We are pleased to feature our 2000 World Class Solution Award winners in this issue. A panel of industry experts selected the eight companies featured on pages 56 and 57 for their world class implementations. These extraordinary solutions exemplify the innovative and effective use of technology that deliver true business value. Congratulations to all of the winners.

The Infancy of CRM

Corporations today are all looking at the new wave of technology for managing their customers. One of the hottest new sectors is customer relationship management (CRM) and the benefits that can be obtained by creating a total view of the customer. Although CRM is a hot topic, it is apparent that the CRM market is in its infancy. At the National Center for Database Marketing (NCDM) Conference in Las Vegas, the vendors and attendees expressed diverse, often contradictory, opinions about customer-centric solutions. Successful CRM often requires a major cultural shift within an organization. Company-wide adoption of a customer-centric attitude should be the first step. Requirements for and expectations of a CRM solution need to be defined and strategized. This involves reevaluating how all processes within the company interface with the customer and frequently requires extensive change within each department. The personnel within the departments also need to be evaluated since the shift from product focus to customer focus requires extensive customer service skills which were not as critical when the major emphasis was on product. These are the challenging issues that need to be addressed prior to the selection of a technology solution.

Unfortunately, many corporations often invest in new technologies prior to conducting a detailed evaluation of their needs and expectations. After they purchase the new technology, they try to retrofit the solution to meet their requirements. If you are looking at CRM solutions, take the time to perform the initial evaluation and engage experts, if necessary. I would highly recommend an NCDM conference as a great place to start.

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