Memo to IT professionals: When it comes to CRM, do you want to begin the day troubleshooting your business’s ancient Siebel implementation? Or do you want to gain experience with the latest cloud-based technology, improving not just your morning outlook but also your career prospects?
Cloud jobs are hot. Market researcher IDC says that businesses are embracing the cloud because it lets them dump their legacy systems, and use the cost savings to find new ways of innovating. Plus they plan to hire more bodies — cue 1.1 million new jobs by 2015, says IDC — in no small part because the barriers to adopting cutting-edge new technology will be lower.
That’s because not having to install and run your own software and databases makes it easier to get down to business, University of California at Berkeley computer science professor Ion Stoica tells The Boston Globe. “This level of accessibility would allow a larger number of companies to deploy new technology faster and take advantage of them immediately. In the end, taking advantage of such new technologies is what will generate new jobs,” he says.
Already, many of Cloud Sherpas’ customers are conducting a wholesale review of their IT investments to determine when or if they should move those systems to the cloud. That’s especially true for legacy CRM systems such as Siebel, which many of our customers have replaced, or are planning to replace, with cloud-based CRM software such as Salesforce.com.
What will be the best technology and plan of attack for any given business? Answering that question is what makes CIOs and IT departments essential — think vendor-neutral outlook, technology expertise and manifesting a team-player demeanor (don’t mimic Steve Jobs) — for helping business managers to select the best approach.
4 IT Planning Essentials For Cloud CRM
When assessing or planning for a cloud CRM migration, consider:
Business requirements: The best starting point for any project isn’t to immediately select technology, but first to define requirements, then find the best tools for the job. While many businesses just wait for their current CRM software to break before replacing it, cloud CRM software offers upsides — especially on the social front — that your competitors are already exploiting.
Applications: Which custom applications that tie into CRM would live well in the cloud? Which applications might simply work better as add-ons to CRM? Many Cloud Sherpas clients, as part of their cloud CRM review, study how essential functionality requirements could be met using Salesforce.com AppExchange, or if the right prebuilt application isn’t available, by migrating custom applications to Force.com.
Skills: What new skills will be required to master cloud CRM? Extend this thinking beyond the IT department, to also include users in marketing, sales, service, or any other department that will be required to embrace the new cloud CRM software.
Social: With nearly a billion people using Facebook, what’s your company’s social CRM strategy? Businesses must overlay social CRM capabilities onto their existing marketing, sales, and service processes. Cloud CRM software, notably, already includes built-in capabilities and social media connectors that enable businesses to immediately begin reaching customers and prospects via Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks, as well as to use social media for business intelligence purposes.
Cloud Career Upsides? A Few …
From a business standpoint, embracing the cloud will help your business not just get social as quickly as possible, but also realize all of the cost savings, management efficiency and improved security and reliability that come from no longer having to maintain aging CRM software on the premises.
From a career standpoint, meanwhile, cloud technology is the future. Businesses are demanding it, and technology professionals must embrace it. Why not start with your legacy CRM system? Help your organization select the best technology, then embed IT professionals in business groups to help push cloud adoption farther, faster. The business gets faster innovation, and IT professionals get to master cutting-edge cloud environments. What’s not to like?
Want to succeed with CRM? Start by asking the right questions. To help, we’ve taken our experience of working on over 1,200 projects with more than 500 customers and distilled it into our CRM Excellence Framework.
We’ve also tapped those best practices to create our Cloud Accelerators, which enable businesses to rapidly create a working SFA, service, or marketing automation program, in less than four weeks, and for a fixed price.