CRM cannot stand on its own

CRM – as the tech industry knows it – is dead, according to Steve Kostysher.

Kostysher, CEO of Mississauga, Ont.-based e-business firm Red Celsius, told a group at the recent CRM Power 2000 show in Toronto that traditional CRM has not survived and it now has to become Internet enabled.

He used Encyclopedia Britannica as an example.

“It’s a well-respected name. A lot of people own a set,” Kostysher said. “They owned the market. Then along came the Internet and new technology.”

He added that this is when Microsoft decided it would like a piece of the encyclopedia business and purchased Funk and Wagnall’s information, in order to put it on the Web.

“Encyclopedia Britannica sales dropped,” he said, noting that now the company has been purchased and rebranded as an Internet portal, it has started to re-emerge as a viable business again. “The Internet changed their business. They tried to fight it in traditional ways and they got their heads handed to them on a plate.”

He stressed that if a company cannot take advantage of the Web, it is dead, and noted that a company’s use of the Web must be seamless.

“There were many companies who were market leaders and were resistant to change, and now they are floundering.”

Another trend pointing to the demise of non-Web integrated CRM is that product lifecycles are shortening and products are not looking very different from the competition, according to Kostysher.

“Companies are trying to differentiate themselves with add-ons. We’re dealing with more products with shorter lifecycles, with more reach that are micro-targeted to segments,” he said. “The Internet has become an e-business catalyst, feeding on itself.”

He predicted that personalization on Web sites will go through enormous changes in two years. His next prediction was that the major change will be to join CRM ideas and software with personalization tools.

“You have to link the two,’ Kostysher said. “If someone wants to buy from you, it doesn’t matter which channel they use, it’s the same process.”

He stated that the Internet is becoming the driver of CRM decisions – “of all decisions, in fact.”

The days of many different sales force automation tools are over, Kostysher said, because there is only one Web site.

He next stressed the importance of Java in the future.

“We’re already seeing companies throwing out applications that are not Java enabled,” he said, adding that he thinks Java will have a greater impact than the relational database.

“Java is about data sharing and process sharing,” he said. “Driving that is wireless. If you have client/server technology underlying your system, your Web portal – you’re dead in the water.”

He amended that CRM may not be entirely dead, but that the CRM programmers are dead, working in an old environment.

“Now people are trying to build data sharing into the Web. The Web doesn’t need to do that. If someone tells you they have an integrated client/server application, don’t believe them. They have four copies of an application working on the same database,” he said.

Kostysher advised the group to look at their technology platform.

“Your features set will change continuously, but that platform will not.”