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Amy Cruz

Amy Cruz

By 2013, there will be well over half a billion Smartphone sales worldwide. It’s estimated that by the end of this year they will make up to a quarter of all mobile device handset sales.

ERP Software

Death of the PC? Get ready for the Mobile Tsunami. (Part 1b)

More People Own a Mobile Devices Than you Think

By 2013, there will be well over half a billion Smartphone sales worldwide. It’s estimated that by the end of this year they will make up to a quarter of all mobile device handset sales.  In the United States alone, there will be by 2015 an estimated 160 million Smartphones in the U.S. alone.

It’ s Not Just About the iPhone

Forget what you might have heard, it’s not just the iPhone. Apple iPhones tend to dominate the U.S. mindshare for mobile devices, but from a market share perspective, the data reveals otherwise. Google leads the way, Apple comes in second, RIM third (but fading) and Microsoft fourth but struggling.

A recent report by Gartner predicted that Google Android will be the most popular operating system by the end of 2012, with 38.5 percent of the market. By 2015, Android will own 48.8 percent.

Do Your Mobile Visitors Hate You?

Companies need to be cognizant of the wide array of potential devices their audiences could be using when they start thinking about their mobile strategy. Mobile users have proven to be less likely to visit a website again if it had poor performance. They are resistant to purchase from a website that’s clunky and aren’t a least bit hesitant about jumping to a competitor’s site.

Not presenting consumers with information via the channel they’re utilizing could potentially have a negative impact on your brand image and sales. Today, it’s necessary that organizations create dynamic and contextual experiences across multiple channels to properly engage with customers no matter how they access a site.

Continued in Part 2

 

The mobile revolution is already pounding on the gates, and it will you think about your entire Internet strategy. By 2013, mobile internet usage will exceed desktop usage. People are accessing websites via their Smartphone or tablet every day. Have you formulated your mobile strategy yet? If you haven’t, now is the time.

ERP Software

Death of the PC? Get ready for the Mobile Tsunami. (Part 1a)

Why Your Company Needs to Go Mobile.

The driving force behind mobile has been the evolution of the Smartphone. And it’s certainly come a long way. Believe it or not, the first Smartphone was invented by IBM and was called the Simon Personal Communicator. Since the Simon’s introduction in 1992 we’ve seen tremendous innovation in the Smartphone market, including game-changing technologies like the release of the iPhone and the Google Android platform over the last few years.

With their ability to display web pages, mobile devices are now being used by your customers to go online wherever they are and whenever they want to. Usability has improved and bandwidth continues to increase. More and more mobile users choose to transition to a Smartphone every year

How Consumers Are Using Mobile

Mobile users access the mobile Internet constantly and increasingly. Overwhelmingly, they send text messages to other phones. They are comfortable using their phone’s browser to surf the Web. They routinely download apps,  access a social networking site or blog, play games or listen to music on their mobile phone. The genie is ouit of the bottle and ain’t going back in any time soon.

Continued in Part 1b

 

SAP has been in the ERP business for a long time and has often been credited with founding the technology. Gartner credits SAP with nearly 40% of the overall $20 billion ERP market.

ERP Software

Course Notes from ERP 101 (Part 3b)

SAP- SAP has been in the ERP business for a long time and has often been credited with founding the technology. Gartner credits SAP with nearly 40% of the overall $20 billion ERP market. SAP offers a suite made up of full financials, HR, operations, procurement, treasury, and other business functions. The software works in real-time, unlike the batch postings required by some of its competitors. The software can be implemented in a simple fashion, and ongoing maintenance can be handled without disruptions to the existing system. The company doesn’t focus on any verticals, playing well in just about all of them. SAP Business ByDemand places the company as a leader in the revolutionary Cloud ERP segment.

Oracle. Oracle’s E-Business Suite offers many ERP options, covering all facets of ERP and all industries. The company also offers it Fusion Applications. These are designed from the ground up using the latest technology advances and incorporating best practices that have been gathered over the years from Oracle customers. At some point in the future, Oracle will forge all of its ERP offerings into Fusion. In the meantime, the company is committed to providing ongoing enhancements to its existing software for as long as its customers want them.

Microsoft Dynamics. Microsoft bought their way into the ERP marketplace with a series of acquisitions. Redmond has four main products that it has divided its Dynamics software into: AX, GP, NAV, and SL. The focus of the company is in several areas. First, it focuses on its largest customers. The second is to focus on those customers who desire an ERP solution for improved financials and operations, or who need an ERP that has been tailored to a specific market. The vision of Microsoft is to provide an ERP solution that is an enabler, facilitating decisions and proactively driving change into practice.

Continued in Part 4

 

Before there was ERP there was MRP, manufacturing resource planning. Keeping inventories low and using just-in-time production techniques requires precise planning and execution on the supply side of a manufacturing business.

ERP Software

Course Notes from ERP 101 (Part 3a)

Supply Chain Management. Before there was ERP there was MRP, manufacturing resource planning. Keeping inventories low and using just-in-time production techniques requires precise planning and execution on the supply side of a manufacturing business. Supply chain management in ERP automates many of the tasks involved in ordering supply and maintaining inventories. For today's manufacturing business, supply chain management is a critical ERP feature. When considering an ERP package, it is important to focus on the features that are most important for your type of manufacturing. There are a wide variety of SCM options, and more than one, quite likely, perfectly suited to your industry and way of doing business. Make a detailed list of your requirements and compare that list to what your vendor can provide. Keeping in mind that each feature contributes to an overall integrated system, you can maximize the benefit of your ERP purchase.

For large enterprises, the ERP marketplace is currently dominated by three companies – SAP, Oracle, and Microsoft. Rivals in this tier have either been acquired by one of the Big 3, gone out of business entirely, or settled back into a lower tier serving smaller companies. Since this marketplace is saturated (every large company already on their second, third or fourth iteration of ERP), don’t expect much change is this vendor tier.

Continued in Part 3b

 

This is a huge undertaking. If you compare two departments within ta typical organization, HR and Finance, you’ll find that pre-ERP they have their own standalone computer system optimized for their specific tasks. ERP takes these distinctly different tools and combines them together into a single database.

ERP Software

Course Notes from ERP 101 (Part 1b)

The end result is that the various departments can more easily share information and communicate better with one another. One hand can finally see what the other hand is doing, and pitch in, in a sense. If the ERP software is installed correctly, this integrated approach can have huge and transformative payback.

Here is an example of how ERP can create significant efficiencies and productivity increases. Suppose a customer places an order with a company that hasn’t yet adopted ERP software. The order will most likely come in on paper, and be keyed in over and over again as it makes its rounds through the department. Every department in the company will have the order in its system, but no department will be able to tell the status of the order at any single time. Enter ERP. By integrating the systems, the various departments in the company can now track the status of the order whenever they need to.

As with buying any piece of software, especially one as all-encompassing as ERP, the best place to start the buying process is by taking a look at your business and determining if ERP will be of benefit. If your company is like the one described above, taking in orders on paper and having the information on the order processed by each individual one at a time, with no communication between the groups, then ERP is definitely for you.  Tip: There are plenty of independent ERP consultants you can bring in to help with this evaluation; yes, they are biased towards ERP almost always being a good idea, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing as long as you know it going in. As long as they are vendor agnostic, they can provide an essential perspective that can inspire your ERP search and point you in the right direction.

Continued in Part 2

 

This five-part article is certainly not going to tell you everything you need to know about Enterprise Resource Planning software, often referred to by its ERP acronym.

ERP Software

Course Notes from ERP 101 (Part 1a)

But it will prepare you to ask the right sort of questions and spend hours surfing around ERP.com looking for more info. In the back half we’ll provide a current snapshot of the major players and what their product offerings look like today. Before we do, however, like any good survey coursed, let’s start at the beginning.

The primary objective of an ERP implementation is to integrate all departments and functions from across a enterprise into a single computer system. ERP is a software solution that provides individual applications to meet the different needs of every particular department in the company. Behind the scenes, however, the system is wired to automatically share data created by one department—sales, for example—with all the other departments that could benefit from seeing that data—finance, production, purchasing and shipping, for example. This is a huge undertaking. If you compare two departments within ta typical organization, HR and Finance, you’ll find that pre-ERP they have their own standalone computer system optimized for their specific tasks. ERP takes these distinctly different tools and combines them together into a single database. The end result is that the various departments can more easily share information and communicate better with one another. One hand can finally see what the other hand is doing, and pitch in, in a sense. If the ERP software is installed correctly, this integrated approach can have huge and transformative payback.

Continued in Part 1b

 

Tighten the focus on enhancing the customer experience for business and consumer customers alike, as opposed to continually trying to attract new customers. That includes examining and, if need be, upgrading contact center and self-service tools including IVR and Web sites.

CRM Software

Can Your CRM Evolve as Fast as Your Customers? (Part 10b)

Also consider adding automated outbound notifications. This may also mean connecting existing on-premise ERP applications such as financials, purchasing and supply chain. This will further tighten    integration and expand access to available customer and operations data.

Mobile is becoming the customers’ preferred communications means for multiple channels. Mobile-enable CRM applications and external and internal Web sites to serve customers and workforces using these devices, ensuring that mobile applications are connected into the contact center for seamless transition from channel to channel.

Build in and integrate with CRM real-time social media tracking, analysis    and reporting. Add to this collaboration (contact management, surveys and activity charts) and marketing tools such as e-mail, profiles and mobile applications.  Turbocharge customer referral value by accounting for customers’ influence with others via social media, and give this metric greater weight in assessing customers’ total lifetime value.

Applying BI and predictive analytics to data in real time is important to    knowledge discovery about the customer while supporting marketing, sales and customer service operations. Mining data provided by analytics, applying mathematical models to it, and building targeted marketing initiatives with it helps connect the business manager to the needs of their customer. The benefit for the marketer is to see response rates climb as a   result of marketing initiatives and to help validate the ROI from the CRM system in the process.

The challenge to midsize businesses is clear: you need to adjust your CRM strategy to market, sell to and service customers on their terms, consistently, across all channels. But how? Every company will be different, but there is a set of critical points you must consider when evaluating a new approach to your CRM planning:

CRM Software

Can Your CRM Evolve as Fast as Your Customers? (Part 10a)

The challenge to midsize businesses is clear: you need to adjust your CRM strategy to market, sell to and service customers on their terms, consistently, across all channels. But how? Every company will be different, but there is a set of critical points you must consider when evaluating a new approach to your CRM planning:

Examine the goals you are trying to reach. Understand what CRM is and the business functions this software and others that support it, including analytics, data integration and collaboration are intended to enable. See what specific objectives these tools can meet, how long they will take to get there and at what costs, and determine the returns.

Seek out and get buy-in from the very outset with all stakeholders: senior    management, marketing, sales, customer service/contact center and IT. Find out their pain points with the firm’s existing sales and customer care processes. Discover their thoughts and suggestions for solutions: what they want to see and avoid. Ask their opinions of and uncover any    reservations they have about CRM and other related tools in order to deal head-on with any strongly held views they may have on this technology— traditional CRM has earned a bad reputation.  The IT department can be an important ally during this process. They can help senior leadership to better understand the technology requirements on the infrastructure in order to deploy and maintain a CRM platform such as modularity and open-sourced software.


Marketing automation. The ability to segment based on specific consumer behaviors, such as purchasing history, dollar amount spent and type of product or service acquired, is critical to a successful campaign. Companies are employing marketing automation tools to cost-effectively gain deeper understanding of customer behaviors and preferences in real time.

ERP Software

Can Your CRM Evolve as Fast as Your Customers? (Part 6b)

Marketing automation. The ability to segment based on specific consumer behaviors, such as purchasing history, dollar amount spent and type of product or service acquired, is critical to a successful campaign. Companies are employing marketing automation tools to cost-effectively gain deeper understanding of customer behaviors and preferences in real time. Marketers can then use these insights to create more effective and relevant marketing communications and customer experiences. Ultimately, this can translate to future incremental sales at low cost when implementing digital tactics enabled by the CRM platform, such as e-mail, to reach customers.

Social channels. Knowing that the relationship with customers is vital, midsize companies are growing their participation in social channel conversations. As such, they are adopting CRM solutions that connect into social platforms, including Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, and into sites such as Hoovers and Jigsaw. They are adding social value into customer referral value (CRV) calculations. This information can provide actionable market data for customer service and sales teams to proactively respond to customer issues, defuse them, and protect the customer’s brand.

Collaboration. Collaboration via CRM solutions between employees and customers is also growing in midsize firms. Many of these companies’ executives currently have, or are planning to integrate, unified communications and collaboration solutions into their business processes soon.  The key benefit of collaboration is that marketing, sales and customer service folks are able to exchange information through the CRM tool. This provides each with the opportunity to follow up on specific issues or requirements of any given customer to create additional revenue opportunities or to promote customer satisfaction.

Continued in Part 7


Business leaders prefer new Cloud-based CRM because it makes it easier for remote and mobile workforces to access data, providing business continuity. It can be argued that hosting has “saved” CRM by making the technology affordable and practical.

ERP Software

Can Your CRM Evolve as Fast as Your Customers? (Part 6a)

Mobile Applications. As customers go mobile and sales teams strive to meet customers’ needs, midsize companies are enabling mobile CRM. They are optimizing Web sites for wireless devices and deploying mobile apps directly linked into the contact centers. They are purchasing apps for particular devices and are buying solutions that store CRM data on them when offline, and update the information when Internet access is restored. This enables sales teams to quickly acquire customer history and respond with offerings tailored to their desires.

Self-service tools. Smarter self-service tools are a critical trend in CRM development. This includes the use of easy-to-navigate Web sites and web self-service functions, kiosks, chat, intuitive interactive voice response (IVR) menus, speech recognition and proactive purchase recommendations. The most important element that a midsize company must get right is tight integration between all these channels and business processes like billing, fulfillment and shipping. This integration directly affects the customer experience: if it is not there, that experience may be negative.

Intelligence and analytics. Midsize companies are facing fierce competition and are under pressure to increase productivity while reducing budgets. They are relying on analytics to extract the insights from their CRM system to enable better decision making by deploying business intelligence tools, integrated with their CRM solutions. These tools include predictive analytics, query, reporting and dashboarding. They are breaking into and tearing down the data silos to get access to that information. They are employing data warehouses to integrate, normalize and store data for reporting and analysis. And they are taking steps to make the data accurate, up-to-date, and more secure in compliance with customers’ and regulatory requirements.

Continued in Part 6b

 

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