The epiphany of better managing customer information has already happened for services firms.
The local arm of research company IDC has crunched some numbers on uptake of CRM (customer relationship management) "solutions" -- comprising software and hardware. The results suggest finance (banks, insurance firms) and services companies, both professional (real estate, accounting) and personal (hotels, vehicle firms) have seized the early advantage in analysing customer behaviour, IDC's Mark Cribbens says.
Likewise in America: nearly half of all financial and business services companies in North America have deployed or are rolling out applications that help better manage the web of interactions they have with their customers, says Forrester Research.
The laggards, often in areas like manufacturing, see more advantage in developing their ERP and supply chain applications, says Cribbens.
But the small size of corporate New Zealand might be slightly mixing results. According to Helen Robinson, New Zealand and Australian head of CRM software vendor Pivotal, those sectors quickly and enthusiastically adopting CRM are not-for-profit and service-based organisations, government, specialty financial services companies, technology companies and pharmaceutical outfits.
The slowest include manufacturing, she says ("still thinking that what they make is most important, not what is it that the customer wants"), but also large insurance companies and large banks. The latter two, she thinks, might be struggling to get their collective heads around the benefits and challenges. Others, such as utilities, freight and real estate, are somewhere in the middle, Robinson says. They may be aided by moves by many vendors to cater better for mid-sized customers.
In the US, utilities sit at the bottom of Forrester's CRM implementation chart, along with chemical and oil companies (nearly 27% have no plans to do so, just in front of primary production and supply organisations) and intermediate manufacturing. Financial service firms are convinced: only 11.7% of those surveyed had no CRM plans. However, the majority of even the slowest movers are considering or piloting CRM projects.
Forrester also cross-pollinated CRM uptake with implementation of other technology, and found universally that firms keen on CRM were also keen on cleverness such as content management, data mining and supply chain software.
CRM lovers and phobics can email Broatch.