To Cloud or Not To Cloud: The Competitive Storm Brewing Over CRM
Recently there has been a barrage of cloud customer relationship management(CRM) services introduced by technology giants and relative unknowns alike. With the surge of “cloud”-hawking industrialists vying for CRM dominance, a battle of dimensions, of sort, has commenced, and the question posed now in cross-department meetings, “Should we cloud compute or rollout an onsite CRM solution?”
At the root of inquiry are more pertinent questions, such as; “Is cloud computing safe”? Can we trust it to be as reliable and secure as on premise solutions? Will the VPN become overloaded with the constant over-the-air stream of dynamic, day-to-day interfacing? Is the cloud solution less expensive than the desktop version – less upfront, in the end, or both? If it is the less expensive option, is it less because it is of inferior quality and capabilities? These are all valid questions that come up in day-to-day operations in any organization, and their answers are found within the root of this solution.
While these concerns are legitimate they are steeped in the same fear that motivates most innovative trepidation, and must be rooted out similarly as we did with the introduction of the internet, the word processor and other office applications, the business intelligence tools, the CRM solution itself, and all other business tools we now enjoy (and frankly, can’t live without): We must ask how will this innovation supplement current analytics applications? If the platform is superior to the current solutions in use, how can we position the sell to our end-users to ensure broad use and a smooth transition? And finally, we should venture further to ask, who is the best solution provider and the best partner firm capable of delivering a nearly hiccup-free implementation?
Major players from Salesforce, SAP, Oracle, and Microsoft to open source architects such as Sugar are making inroads in cloud CRM.
While I won’t offer my opinion via blog regarding the best CRM retailer, as each case will prove different requirements, I will state with certainty (and, admittedly, a little bias), that cloud computing is a valuable alternative to the on premise CRM solution. This is because most of the burden of maintenance is removed when a cloud computing solution is installed, users can get on with their work with little interruption or continued financial outlay.
Yes, the upfront costs associated with customization, i.e., implementation, training, ramp-up, etc., remain a factor, as there are no one-size-fits-all solutions – even box solutions require some customization to achieve its full potential. And while the cloud solution will deliver more bang for the buck of mid-size companies, where on premise solutions with similar features may be cost prohibitive, the real benefit is, when properly installed, its comparable data quality and data management potential to that of the on premise solution.