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We are involved with a DW strategy and planning a CRM strategy.

  • Sid Adelman, Chuck Kelley, Clay Rehm, Nancy Williams
  • February 03 2003, 1:00am EST


We are involved with a DW strategy and planning a CRM strategy. The company needs information now, and we can't wait for the CRM implementation. What can we do to integrate the two strategies? Finally, we have to consider the actual information requirements that we must satisfy with the actual operational systems and the CRM strategy to be implemented in 2004.


Sid Adelman’s Answer: The DW strategy should include the CRM. You will be creating customer information in your data warehouse that will feed the CRM, but it’s clear that you need an overall architecture that includes your operational systems as part of the source for the data warehouse and for the CRM system. Be sure that the infrastructure you build for the data warehouse is robust enough to handle the volume required by the CRM system. The infrastructure should include the hardware, the data warehouse specific software, the network, the organization (people, skills, responsibilities, etc.), and the meta data repository that will serve the data warehouse and the CRM system. Build the data warehouse infrastructure, deliver the information the organization needs now with the data warehouse but have a path to include the CRM. Be sure to let management know your plans and the timeframes for delivering each of the phases.

Chuck Kelley’s Answer: It is my belief that you can not have a CRM system (or at least an integrated one) without an enterprise data warehouse. Therefore you should build the complete the data warehouse strategy and start the implementation and then when the CRM is ready, grow the data warehouse (if needed) to include CRM information.

Clay Rehm’s Answer: Unless you spend the time with each strategy identifying the benefits, risks and requirements for each, integrating them on a later date will be very difficult if not impossible. They may not even have any common threads between them. Why not dedicate at least one person’s time to bridge the strategies?

Nancy Williams’ Answer: There are many differing and conflicting points of view on the definition of CRM and the roles that data warehousing and CRM play in an organization. I believe that the best way to ensure that your CRM and DW strategies are integrated is to review your organization’s business strategy and to discuss the role that CRM and the data warehouse are envisioned to play in supporting that strategy. The integration of your CRM and DW strategies will naturally occur through this process and will ensure that your technical strategies align with your organization’s business strategy.

I also believe that it is important to formulate your CRM strategy independent of vendor software. For example, your CRM strategy should identify the way in which business processes will be changed to better support customer-centric management of the organization. Unfortunately, some organizations never articulate a clear CRM strategy, but rather purchase a CRM software application that determines their CRM strategy, by default. Some CRM vendors go so far as to argue against the need for a data warehouse, since their CRM applications come bundled with customer analytics. Needless to say, the vendor has never considered other information needs that may not be fully supported by the CRM application.

It is also important to tie your DW strategy directly back to how it will support your organization’s business goals. Because of timing differences, your DW strategy may also consider how the data warehouse can play a role in supporting your CRM strategy. The DW strategy could include short-term objectives for delivering customer information while the CRM strategy is under development and should also outline if and how the DW role may change once the CRM strategy is fully implemented. Finally, an analysis of how operational systems will play a role in providing information needed to support your organization’s business strategy will also need to be considered.

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