Companies are failing to get a good return on investment from customer facing technologies because neither marketing departments nor technologists want to take responsibility for them.
A survey conducted on behalf of ebusiness software specialist ATG by online business information site hoovers.co.uk found that the broadening gap between marketing and IT is hampering successful customer relationship management (CRM) and ecommerce implementations.
Although European companies spent more than $1bn on business intelligence applications including CRM and ecommerce last year, figures from analyst Datamonitor suggest that implementations are failing to meet their objectives largely because marketers find technology, and those who implement it, uninspiring.
As a result the broad business benefits of CRM technology are slow to permeate to marketers, with almost a third of respondents saying that technology was unimportant in helping them to better serve customers.
Ray Perry, director of marketing at the Chartered Institute of Marketing, explained that it is an issue which has been around for several years but shows little sign of being resolved.
"Until now CRM has tended to be something that's rolled out by IT without too much involvement from marketing," he said. "Marketing should be heavily involved in the buying decision and IT should be saying there's something on the market to help you achieve your aims but, instead, implementations are totally IT led."
Despite investments in CRM, many companies are suffering from information overload without the means to make good use of the data they have, Perry said. "There's often a reality gap between what control the marketer thinks they're getting and what IT lands on the desk," he pointed out.
And although marketers have to shoulder some of the blame, it is also up to IT to communicate in business terms what they are setting out to achieve.
"For a lot of companies, CRM is just an automated way of doing what they were doing before. But if you want to adopt an online model, for example, you should totally reshape your business around the way the customer thinks. IT is a tool but it's only as good as the business it generates," said Perry.
Ian Davis, product marketing manager at ATG, said that organisations that want to see real return on investment from CRM and ecommerce need to employ marketing technophiles.
"In the present economic environment there is no room for conflict," he explained. "Businesses wanting to keep their competitive edge need an integrated effort to push ahead with developing and implementing the technology projects that can make a real difference to a company's relationship with its customers."
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