Domino developers looking for new opportunities should take a serious look at customer relationship management (CRM).
CRM isn't new; it's as basic as the local grocer remembering that the Smith family always eats lamb chops on Saturday night. But today, driven by the capabilities afforded by e-business, large corporations can theoretically achieve the same personal touch with global customers as the local grocer can with its neighborhood clientele.
Technology enables companies to capture customer data at myriad points of contact, spurring IT shops to take a highly integrated approach to CRM. It involves sales-force automation, complaints tracking, customer self-service, call center services, purchasing award systems, customer messaging systems and more.
Domino and Notes provide an ideal platform for CRM applications because "the communication and collaboration occurring under the hood of Notes and Domino make it fairly easy to gather and collect correspondence with customers," says John Carini, vice president of technology at iEnterpises Inc., Berkeley Heights, N.J., a Lotus Business Partner specializing in CRM implementations.
"Once you've gathered all that correspondence and associated it with a customer, the information can be shared across the organization and mined so you can give the customer what they want and service them in a timely fashion," Carini explains. "You have everything you need to know about the entire relationship with the customer."
IEnterprises ( www.ienterprises.com ) is one of more than 95 Lotus Business Partners lining up to grab a share of the CRM market. The major IT market research firms are making big projections for IT spending on CRM. Forrester Research Inc., Cambridge, Mass., values the current CRM market at between $3 billion and $4 billion; AMR Research estimates that annual CRM spending will reach $11.5 billion by 2002; and the Gartner Group, Stamford, Conn., expects it to reach $40 billion in 2004.
If the market comes even remotely close to any of those ambitious projections, it should create plenty of lucrative opportunities for Domino developers. Demand for CRM software and consulting is high enough that Lotus Business Partners can charge $150 to $250 an hour for services related to their products, and independent contractors can charge hourly rates of $100 to $200, Carini notes.
He recommends that developers target sales-force automation as an entry point into the CRM market. "That's where most of the CRM activity is now, and it's the easiest [application] to justify because it goes straight to the bottom line," Carini says.
CRM Resources on the Web:
Lotus CRM Home Page
Lotus' news and views on CRM, including case studies, white papers, product demos, an events calendar and more.
News and features on CRM trends and projects.
Top 10 Strategic Initiatives in e-CRM
A March 2000 report by Meridien Research (requires Adobe Acrobat).
CRM Glossary of Terms
A guide to the most common acronyms related to CRM.
"Quickstudy: Customer Relationship Management"
A tutorial on CRM basics published by Computerworld in February, 2000.
"Know Your Customer"
This article from CIO magazine' (CIO 100 issue, Aug. 15, 1999) shows how leading companies use CRM to give customers what they want, when they want it. Also includes a glossary of terms.
A CRM community site based in Edinburgh, Scotland.
SearchDomino Editor's Picks
A CRM-specific search engine brought to you by TechTarget.
Written by Leslie Goff, a contributing editor based in New York.