March 12th, 2012 by Forrester Research

The following post is written by Kyle McNabb, a vice president and practice leader at Forrester Research, where he leads Forrester’s Application Development and Delivery practice.

We spend a good deal of our time at Forrester helping folks bust myths and misconceptions about technologies and trends. I’d like to share a few myths I’ve heard of late while on the road with clients, speaking with the media, and meeting with teams trying to deliver improved CRM support.

1)  We just need to arm our “tech-challenged” marketers with easy-to-use technology.
In my experience, nothing frustrates today’s marketers more than being referred to as “tech-challenged” by their technologist counterparts. Marketers aren’t “tech challenged” because they don’t understand technology. They’re tech challenged because in today’s world of constant software-fueled technology disruption, what your customers use changes at a rate that they, and you, can’t keep up with. Only when this consumer-led tech innovation stops will marketers, and you, have a chance to catch up. Until then, you and your marketing peers are in perpetual catch-up mode.

2)  No software, and “You won’t need developers.”
This often comes up in the context of moving to the cloud, with the assumption being you don’t need a lot of IT support. I suggest looking at it differently: Move to the cloud so you can free up your developers to deliver what matters most–engagement.

Today’s mobile- and social-empowered population demands engagement, not just information and transaction support. Delivering engagement requires you to deliver information and functionality you have in multiple systems of record in context, across multiple channels, and on multiple devices. You need developers now more than ever to help you deliver that engagement. In fact you need to start looking at software development as a competency to help you thrive in this age of constant software-fueled tech disruption.

Our research highlights how many firms believe software is their business. These aren’t software vendors or tech firms, but financial services firms, media companies, utilities, retailers, and government agencies that have come to understand they need to develop better software to meet the demands of an empowered population.

Many of these firms have started learning from the open Web development community and culture, staffing their software development teams with developers competent in a number of development languages. Their objective? Build Web platforms upon CRM systems that deliver engagement, use the right tools for the job, and design with mobile and multi-channel from the start.

3)  Agile is just for development.
Many organizations assume Agile methodologies are strictly for custom development. Agile and other highly iterative delivery approaches work well when your business stakeholders want something fast, and no one is quite sure of specific requirements. That sounds like many of today’s CRM initiatives—your stakeholders want something now, but because no one is quite sure of your customer’s needs, you’re not quite sure what you specifically need to implement.

We see Agile methodologies being used successfully in CRM initiatives, and it’s not just focused on custom development. CRM business process re-engineering initiatives using BPMS tools lend themselves well to iterative delivery approaches. A key to success is ensuring your stakeholders fully buy into an iterative delivery approach, which might not be too hard considering no one wants to wait six to nine months—even longer—to tackle today’s customer challenges.

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