Companies continue to deploy customer relationship management (CRM) solutions, but many of these organizations still can't decide how to use them. In fact, 40 percent of enterprises that have already installed CRM solutions will rethink them, with an emphasis on balancing privacy with increasing pressure to support personalization, says a new research note from Gartner.

"Adequately addressing privacy concerns will be a top business priority. This is going to require rethinking of how information is gathered, how customers can access and control that data and how enterprises can safeguard it from parties that might want it but shouldn't have it. Legislation will force this anyway, but in 2002, customers are increasingly going to be demanding it," says Scott Nelson, vice president and research area director for Gartner.

Privacy concerns will also drive personalization and real-time analytics to the fore-front in 2002. "Enterprises will find that customers want to see why all this data is being gathered, and they will expect the CRM experience to reflect intelligent use of personal data," said Nelson. "Otherwise, enterprises will not be in a position to ask for the data at all. In addition, many enterprises have been working to put the basic infrastructure in place, and now they are ready to build on it."

The economic slowdown caused enterprises to scale back their CRM initiatives and shift their CRM projects' goals from revenue enhancement to cost reduction. Through 2002, there will be a return to tactical projects that will hurt the large suite vendors and breathe new life into the best-of-breed players, but only temporarily. In the end, enterprises will gravitate to the large suite solutions.

"One change in 2002 is that much-needed large-scale CRM successes will begin to emerge. Many enterprises have very quietly overhauled their dealings with their customers, and in 2002, we will see their case studies come to market. This will provide the validation this space requires, and in the end, may be the most important event in CRM this year. As the big 'wins' emerge, the rest of the industry will gain the justification they need to sell this business strategy to skeptical management," says Nelson.

Even though enterprises have focused mainly on the technology aspects of CRM, , enterprises will worry more about how to ensure that the entire workforce can use these tools effectively, how to institutionalize best practices, and how to export high levels of customer support to their extended enterprise, including partners and affiliates.

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