Companies are getting bogged down in the complexity of building customer relationship management (CRM) systems, with the result that many see using a single supplier as their only option.
Analyst firm AMR Research warned firms that integration issues would be key to informing CRM purchase decisions. Integration costs can account for between 30 and 50 per cent of the total cost of a CRM implementation, said Kevin Lucas, senior analyst at AMR.
"It is worth comparing the total cost of implementing a system rather than just relying on the price quoted for a suite," Lucas said.
But by adopting a single vendor, firms ran the risk of being tied too closely to that vendor, added Lucas. "Firms also need to take into account partner readiness, and their ability to link in with CRM systems."
Despite these issues, there is a push for firms to extend the reach of their CRM systems beyond the limits of their enterprise, claimed Nick Rawls, collaborative commerce evangelist at enterprise resource planning (ERP) giant, JD Edwards.
"Old CRM was about call desks, sales force management. Proper CRM is about a whole business strategy, reaching out and touching anywhere in the business process," he said.
Many firms with significant investments in a variety of enterprise applications will struggle to maximise the return on their investment if they are not able to integrate with suppliers, customers and other partners in the extended enterprise, said Phillip Merrick, chairman and chief executive officer of integration software firm, webMethods.
"Any company looking to realise the full power of the investments made in the purchase of enterprise applications must first integrate them on a standard, scalable platform," he added.
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