Reader’s Digest begins global CRM rollout

Reader’s Digest (Australia) has developed a solution internally to aid customer relations management, with plans to roll out to Reader’s Digest globally as part of a strategy to converge its systems solutions.

The system, dubbed the “Omega Project”, was developed specifically to front-end a core internal mainframe-based fulfilment and 6 ancillary systems, with a single, intuitive, browser-based CRM system.

Development of the portal has taken 13 months under the .NET framework on an Oracle database, by a dedicated team comprising Reader’s Digest staff, external contractors and consultants from Avoga.

Eventually the portal will be deployed across several countries worldwide, replacing a number of disparate systems with a single global solution. Edward Giuffre, IT director for Reader’s Digest Asia Pacific, said the development is primarily to move away from the mainframe and also improve the efficiency of our Customer Service teams by providing richer solutions.

Giuffre said the redesign is part of a global effort by Reader’s Digest. The Canadian office is redesigning the back-end fulfilment functions, with Australia tasked with developing front-end customer service tools.

“Our existing CRM was mainframe based and the platform was becoming too costly to support, as the resources with skills are difficult to get in the marketplace. The Cobol application was developed in-house and we are in the progress of re-platforming the entire back end away from the mainframe,” Giuffre said.

“We are in the release phase at the moment, rolling the system out to Australia in a phased approach. In October, we provided access to a limited set of transactions such as payment processing and customer search, and over the next few weeks we will be opening up more functionality.

“This fiscal year we are scheduled to roll out the solution to New Zealand, Canada, Singapore and Malaysia. In the 2008 fiscal year, Readers Digest will deploy Omega to South Africa, Russia, Mexico, Thailand, Hong Kong and Brazil.”

Guiffre said implementing the system throughout Europe is the next target in the global roll-out. Reader’s Digest will begin the implementation strategy for Europe in FY08 as European countries use a different back-end fulfilment systems.