Happy Daylight Savings

With the rollover to daylight savings, I plan on taking advantage of the extra daylight to work on my photography. My portfolio site and this Google Gadget can be found at http://www.salmonbay.net.

Snow is forecast for the weekend which normally means rain. This winter has been a much different story. Still this weather has been a far cry from the Chicago winters I knew growing up.

Recent Reads

Three recent business books that I have read, enjoyed and recommend.

The Big Switch: Rewiring the World, from Edison to Google by Nicholas Carr
Summary: Carr argues that computing, no longer personal, is going the way of a power utility.

Why I liked it: The historical perspective matches the current cloud computing trend. Nice parallels, but later chapters are lacking in determine what is next.

Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool’s Guide to Surviving with Grace by Gordon MacKenzie
Summary: Useful anecdotes about creativity and the creative process in a corporate setting.

Why I liked it: Great stories and vignettes. Enjoyed the pyramids and plum tree organizational structure idea.

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t by Jim Collins
Summary: Offers a well-reasoned road map to excellence through examples of 11 companies that made the transition.

Why I liked it: Preaches simplicity and discipline for a corporate vision (or hedgehog concept).

Read on.

Thoughts on Project Success

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?

Enterprise computing channels

The reality of enterprise computing today is not just the migration to the cloud. Rather, it is a range of IT options: First is within the enterprise’s data center, second is in a partner hosting data center, and third is in the cloud. What option is best? Not to sound like a consultant (again), but it truly depends. Ask is this core to our business? If the answer is no, it does not and likely should not live in your data center. If the answer is yes, detail the costs and the cost of control. Chances are there is a cloud-based vendor out there. Do your homework first, then take that sales call.

In the end, it will be about cost and control. Doesn’t it always come down to return on investment?

Integration requirements for CRM, Challenges and opportunities

Challenges and opportunities
Integration outside the enterprise firewall needs to encompass the capabilities of the organization. Larger enterprises have investments in SOA and ESB providing them with new capabilities that can be utilized. Many organizations without these capabilities will find that standard point to point integration will more than meet the requirements for most of the integration challenges outside the firewall to a “cloud computing” CRM solution. Integration within the enterprise is complex and often layered from ERP to CRM. Middleware services, such as Tibco and WebMethods, Service Oriented Architectures (SOA) and Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) infrastructures are common and present their own challenges such as process, configuration and technical.

Ask your organization, “Are we leveraging our SOA and ESB infrastructures to their full potential?”

Do not be surprised if the answer is “no”.

Integration requirements for CRM, CRM to BI

From CRM to Business Intelligence/Analytics
While the two previous requirements focused on the sales force automation areas of CRM, integration with business intelligence and analytics tools could and often cover the spectrum of CRM applications: Sales, marketing, customer service, etc. Each department has their own tools and key performance indicators.

Functional requirements arise from leveraging the right data to enhance the customer relationship. Three areas of concentration are data mining, decision support and analytical tools. These integrations often are “nightly data dumps” from the CRM system into the business intelligence tool.

Integration requirements for CRM, ERP to CRM

From ERP to CRM
Product and Price List data from ERP to CRM is always a complex integration. Technical configurations can be complex. The volume and frequency of updated data can also be complex.

Most large contracts are negotiated with customer specific pricing, terms and conditions. For many organizations negotiated contracts are the norm and the lifeblood of the company. As a result there are typically no set of constants or rules across all negotiated customer specific prices lists. Individual negotiated contracts for all large customers would create a scenario of hundreds or thousands of unique price lists. This creates tremendous complexity for technical configuration as well as the volume and frequency of updated price list data.

Integration requirements for CRM, CRM to ERP

From CRM to ERP
Pipeline and Forecast data are the most common and most important data from CRM into an ERP system. Business process determines the complexity of the integration.

Examples of complex integration requirements can be found with just in time manufacturers (e.g., Dell). These organizations will integrate forecast data into their supply chain for competitive advantage. More common CRM to ERP integration is less complex. Generally and regardless of complexity, this integration occurs on set schedules (e.g., Weekly) as part of the sales process. True real-time capabilities are not required or necessary. Real-time availability by a vendor (product, SaaS, or ISP) will be of more concern.

Some Sales organizations have a culture of frequently adjusting pipeline and forecast requirements. This is often seen with changes in Sales and Executive management. Ideally, the change in business process would not impact the data integration; however, the technical configuration may need adjusting as well.