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As CIO, you’ve said CRM is your differentiator. Now what?

by Michael Maoz  |  January 10, 2009  |  4 Comments

In our latest Executive Programs IT Survey of CIOs, the highest percentage of CIOs (54%) listed customer intimacy as their number one goal in technology and process projects. This was significantly higher than a focus on product excellence, and higher than an emphasis on operational excellence. But the last few months have put this high level sentiment to the test.

I have been away from my blog for several weeks now. Like many of you, I’ve been logging 60 hour weeks. Yet, in the business equivalent of universal expansion, the gap between the effort I put into my job (with the goal of helping clients grow their business) and the evidence I see of client success seems to widen rather than shrink. By the time evening comes and there is time to consider a fitting topic for a blog dedicated to CRM and customer experience, lately I end up with thoughts that are more ontological and axiological than they are about customer processes and technology. Ontological because the very foundations of the software and services business are being tested. The corporate focus on customer experience and responsiveness is in jeopardy. The swiftly unfolding, and seemingly accelerating, downturn will be the litmus test of your commitment to the customer.

Here is good advice: stop just about any initiative that lacks a tie to revenue and cost cutting. But what about CRM projects? Well, they should have been approved based on some notion of creating revenue or lowering cost to begin with. Last I looked, customers were your sole source of revenue. Unless you were cooking the books. Which brings me to the axiological – values and value judgements. Yes, clients know we will trim workforces, impose wage freezes, and delay discretionary spending. Consider, however, an additional dimension: making the wrong cuts, or cuts that are viewed as unjust by employees and customers. Such gaffes will result in lowered morale and higher customer defection. It could take you years to recover, and all for the short term tactic of trimming costs.

So: forge ahead, knowing that your actions will be scrutinized for the values they reflect. Your staff is watching, and so are your customers.

Thank you to the many business leaders who have shared their responses to the economic crisis. Most of you are going ahead with your customer-centric initiatives. I would love to hear from more of you on how your plans and actions are changing.


Michael Maoz
VP Distinguished Analyst
13 years at Gartner
26 years IT industry

Michael Maoz is a research vice president and distinguished analyst in Gartner Research. His research focuses on CRM and customer-centric Web strategies. Mr. Maoz is the research leader for both the customer service and support strategies area and customer-centric Web… Read Full Bio

Thoughts on As CIO, you’ve said CRM is your differentiator. Now what?

  1. Welcome back Michael. A good point to be sure but you have to ask if CRM systems do in fact generate revenue?

    According to CSO Insights’ 2008 Sales Performance Optimization survey, less than 30% of companies have seen an increase in sales, gross margins retained or shorter sales cycles as a result of implementing CRM.

    Correspondingly over 50% indicate their CRM system have increased the accuracy of their forecast and improved internal communications. But its hard to build a credible ROI around better forecasts and improved communication.

    The jury remains out on this one.

  2. Ross Pemberton says:

    I read this article about the real value of CRM to the business with interest.

    My experience with ROI cases is that it depnds on how people term the ROI? I belive there to be 2 ROI options, functional and financial.So to adopt this idea to the post could be to say that the financial ROI is easier to measure, and at the same time easier to fault.

    The second part of the post refers very much to the functional return, customer intamacy, better comms, more acurate forecasting. This should still be viewed as a positive return, as the financial measures are often affected by outside forces such as the economy, ability to execute a sale, poor client management

    So perhaps it can be measured a success? and its a matter of setting expectations with the client in advance to ensure project success and customer value?

  3. […] Maoz of Gartner wrote an excellent blog post recently, “As CIO, you’ve said CRM is your differentiator. Now what?” In it, he cited from a recent Gartner survey that “the highest percentage of CIOs (54%) listed […]

  4. Geoff Major says:

    Agree with the article and would add that CRM & customer ‘intimacy’ (nee focus, nee delight nee experience nee the brand experience) were sadly misunderstood by many CIO’s (and mis-represented by some vendors) when the technology was seen as a panacea and introduced.

    CRM is a way of working (I’ll avoid the temptation to use the word ‘culture’), an end-to-end process and a positive cost/benefit if implemented properly as we know.

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