In my on-line columns, I’m going to be covering a subject that is on everyone’s mind: customer relationship management (CRM) applications. The great thing about CRM applications is that their benefits immediately affect a company’s profits and revenues. Firms receive information they’ve never had before - and it’s actionable. In traditional data warehousing, reports become a work of art: they are fun to look at and admire, but something concrete does not always result. CRM, performed correctly, will allow creative marketing people to gain insights from information for new product ideas or new promotional campaigns and turn them into profits.

Most importantly, CRM is clearly the new foundation for competitive success. As companies go global, whether with a worldwide network of manufacturing facilities or a Web-based distribution center from a hub in Kansas City, they are seeing competitors they’ve never seen before. Likewise, the Web has made it easier than ever for a customer to price competitors and switch vendors before you even knew you were in danger of losing them.

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