Analytical CRM gaining gravity globally

Von Computing SA

A report by independent market analyst, Datamonitor, reveals that analytical customer relationship management (aCRM) technology, considered the logical evolution of the CRM lifecycle, is being adopted by enterprises on a broader global scale.

The report, "Analytical CRM", forecasts that global enterprise investment in aCRM will grow from an estimated US$2.3 billion today to over $3 billion in 2009. aCRM (a sub-section of the wider BI market), whilst complex, is a compelling technology. By employing aCRM analytics, businesses stand to gain a fuller understanding of the customer in order to serve them better, thus increasing customer longevity and generating more profit.

"The aCRM, and wider CRM market is going through a period of exciting change," says Tom Pringle, technology analyst at Datamonitor and author of the study. "High and stable growth reflects the value businesses place on understanding more about their customers. However, vendors will need to make every effort to educate enterprises. Many are still confused by the concept and technologies that constitute BI."

Datamonitor"s report considers the role of the technology, the uses of customer analysis, and the ways in which it is currently being deployed.

aCRM is the active collection, concentration and analysis of data gathered about the customer and his interactions with the business. It is said to represent the next, logical step in this development path, through utilization of customer data held within the enterprise. This analysis is then used to generate value, both for the enterprise and the enterprise"s customers. It is claimed to encompass cultural change at every level as part of the wider CRM project: the creation of a customer-focused business.

Datamonitor considers there to be six key user groups in aCRM output:

- Power users - Usually the smallest group, and by far the most advanced. They require the full flexibility that BI tools can supply, and often provide other areas of the business with information from their own analysis.

- Senior executives - Interest in aCRM is often limited to dashboards detailing performance against key performance indicators (KPIs). The breadth of this information, however, can be significant, with executives across different parts of the business having different priorities. While appearing simple, often the technology behind the dashboard is complex.

- Marketing organizations - One of the larger groups, and potentially one of the most advanced. They are in a position to become advanced users of aCRM, a process only just getting under way in most adopting businesses.

- Sales organizations - A potentially significant user group. Their needs are often found in the output of other area"s analysis. For example, the use of leads generated through marketing campaigns, timely information delivery, especially during closing periods when targets are either hit, or missed.

- Customer-facing organizations - Predominately the call center, but also retail environments. These users are dependent on timely and accurate delivery of information relating to the customers with whom they are dealing.

- Customers - Offering customers intelligence about the way in which they use products purchased from that company can be a competitive differentiator. Simple, predefined queries and easy to understand delivery is key.

The report reveals the clear lead adopters are to be found in the financial services, retail, manufacturing and communications industries around the globe. However, with confusion and lack of understanding among end users regarding aCRM and its uses, it will be imperative for vendors to educate enterprises across all verticals as to the aCRM function, its working, uses and benefits.

"Vendors in this space need to tread carefully to exploit the opportunities which exist. Market education is a clear requirement, with many potential users confused by the range of technological options available to them, and a lack of understanding around the uses of aCRM. There are clear signs marking the appropriateness of aCRM for different enterprises, and vendors will do well targeting those that display them," the report says.