This past spring, Target Corporation announced plans to roll out a customer relationship management (CRM) system that will combine information from its stores, Web sites, call centers and catalogs. What's remarkable about Target's CRM initiative is that it is a "zero latency" system. This means that information put into the system is available almost immediately across the enterprise.

One of the initiative's goals is for consumer service reps at call centers to be able to find consumers' e-mail messages to Target and respond on the spot to their questions or concerns. That sounds straightforward, but there's more to this capability than meets the eye.

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