In 2005, 42 percent of executives surveyed told Forrester Research that they planned to increase their spending on customer information.1 Integrating customer information consistently lands at or near the top of CXOs' priority lists, and the customer relationship management (CRM) tide shows no sign of receding. According to the CDI Institute, Global 2000 companies have substantial plans for integrating customer information in the 2005-2006 timeframe - plans to the tune of approximately $5 million for software and services for a typical organization. Couple this strong demand with the "merger, merger everywhere - and no clear end in sight" condition of the CRM and customer data integration (CDI) marketplace, and trouble surfaces. The Oracle acquisition of JD Edwards, PeopleSoft and Siebel, the IBM acquisition of Ascential and DWL, and the ongoing acquisitions of standalone data quality tools by extract, transform and load (ETL), data augmentation and credit bureau vendors is causing the marketplace to take on an almost surreal "who's next?" quality.
Organizations attempting to use technology to build a sustainable 360-degree view of their customers are suddenly forced to navigate a veritable minefield of what-ifs. What if my CRM or ERP vendor is purchased by a database company and my organization is not on that platform? What if my data quality vendor is purchased by an ETL tool company and we have invested in different ETL technology? Attaining the 360-degree view is difficult enough without the added stress of wondering whether the chosen provider will be gobbled up before the first project is complete.
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