The 4 P’s (Product, Price, Place and Promotion) are the standard Marketing Mix. This is not just MBA “marketing fluff”, the P’s are where the rubber meets the road in CRM, namely quote generation. There is a bigger but untalked about 5th P (Problems) that haunts pricing and quotes.

Product and pricing data are integrated with ERP systems. This data is updated on a variable frequency rate. I have seen a range from quarterly to every 2 days. More frequently is not necessary better in my experience. Place in the CRM parlance is the here and now. Sales is looking to book revenue today. The revenue pipeline needs to flow so that the company can grow. It is amazing to me that 5th P (problems) still exist with product and pricing. Often the integration does not handle changes in frequency well. A pricing update may run well over a weekend, but not complete overnight. How are customer price lists generated? Most are a combination of fixed pricing and percentage. How do you validate that these are correct? These problems existed in CRM a decade ago and are still around today. They are process problems and involve people. No amount of technology will fix people. Companies have this problem and no one really solves it. Why? Likely the P (price) to fix the P (problem) is way to high and no P (product) or P (promotion) have incentives to fix it in the P (place).

The amazing Kiva Systems robots are now part of Amazon.com. Kiva System’s robots already have a place at Amazon’s Zappos. Now Amazon looks to likely take this technology forward in the operations and logistics side of the house. Toys-R-us is a Kiva Systems customer. Maybe this can help the Amazon and Toys-R-Us relationship.

Here are some interesting and relevant Kiva Systems articles from 2009:
Amazon’s Acquisition of Zappos Is “A Good Thing for Kiva,” Says Robot Company’s CEO.

Also check Forbes, “Bot-In-Time Delivery” for more about Kiva.

Amazon’s press release:
Amazon.com to Acquire Kiva Systems, Inc.

Disclosure: My wife is employed by Amazon by does not read my blog.

Remember when Bill Gates openly mocked IBM for sponsoring the “OS/2 Bowl”?

Engadget: Microsoft to spend one billion dollars

Great post from Microsoft Staffing Manager and Employee Evangelist Heather Hamilton for those 4 of you looking for a job these days…

One Louder: Finding recruiters and stalking them like a pro

Last week @ Cloudforce Seattle, Salesforce.com demonstrated some impressive Twitter integration into their Service application. From a CRM perspective, you want to know what your customers are saying whether in sales or service. For Sales, it helps get you to personal faster. For service, it helps you show the love. In researching similar and related technologies, TwInbox for Outlook looks promising.

Check this Microsoft Showcase video about TwInbox: Office Casual: How to Twitter in Outlook (with TwInbox).

The Email Standards Project has started a proverbial avalanche for Microsoft via Twitter. Check TechCrunch: Microsoft, Outlook Is Broken, Says 6,000 Tweets (And Growing). Fix It.

Also check Microsoft to ignore web standards in Outlook 2010 – enough is enough at Email Standards Project.

To get in include the http://fixoutlook.org/ URL somewhere in your tweet.

CTI integration with CRM systems is typically limited to Sales and Support offerings. Since phone systems change less often than other pieces of technology, these integrations have been “set and forget” when properly scoped. I have clients that have not touched the CTI integrations of deployments ever. These integrations are usually pretty simple in size and scope. anywhere from 3-10 fields are identified and passed from system to system. Call durations are typically returned at the end of the call for the all important “Cost per Call” and “Contact Reduction” metrics.

With more systems moving to Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics Live platforms some vendors are now offering out of the box solutions. Just one more vendor…

My current thinking is that this is a piece that could and should stay in-house, just like the phones.

I had a conversation recently with a friend and former colleague on the state of IT. A common theme was that for all the advances in technology, projects still fail at an alarming rate. This got me to think about two clients of mine. Both were large enterprise software companies and were both partners and competitors in given spaces. Both were deploying the same CRM product to increase efficiencies in their customer service centers. The situation was a perfect example of how to make a project a success and how to make a project fail.

The first company had ambitious plans to deploy across multiple product lines, across multiple service teams and integrate with multiple CRM systems. The plans were big and bold. “We will be your most successful and reference-able customer,” the executive sponsor boasted in the kickoff meeting.

The second company had calculated and negotiated their purchase price based on a cost per call metric. They had a simple goal. We have 18 months to get to positive ROI.

Which company succeeded?