Enterprise, Channel technologies, Sales and marketing

How to Evolve from Departmental to Unified CRM

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CRM is widely used by companies both big and small. Gone are the days when it was purchased as a monolithic on-premises application. Today, it’s almost exclusively deployed in the cloud.

How to Evolve from Departmental CRM to Unified CRM

As CRM moved to the cloud, business leaders in charge of sales, service, and marketing drove the purchase. Sales leaders only cared about how CRM could make them better sellers; customer service leaders only cared about how CRM could make their operations more effective and efficient. Now, CRM vendors fragmented their CRM suites into sales, marketing, commerce, and customer service applications to make them more attractive to these departmental buyers.

This approach enables companies to use smaller pieces of CRM and assemble apps based on their unique needs. While this approach has merit at the user level, it also fragments data and siloed processes within organizations, making it hard to get a single view of the customer.

Three Stages of CRM Evolution

Kate Leggett, vice president & principal analyst, Forrester Research
Kate Leggett, vice president & principal analyst, Forrester Research

CRM users who have deployed CRM for several years, typically move through three maturity stages:

Departmental CRM:

These deployments are optimized to support business processes confined to a single department, such as lead management or inquiry management. The core CRM deployment is often complemented by apps from the vendor’s application exchange that extend and enhance capabilities, such as e-signature capture, data capture, dialers, and schedulers.

Integrated CRM:

These deployments optimize interconnected business processes that cross departments, such as lead to order or order to cash. They deeply integrate departmental CRMs; yet business and system administration is separate for each application, and data must be rationalized.

Unified CRM:

These deployments offer tailored, role-based experiences from a unified CRM that spans all front-office departments and are tightly coupled to back-office applications. The CRM has singular business and system administration and offers a unified, consistent way to manage content and data across the application. These deployments typically use platform services to build custom extensions to differentiate their offering.

This evolution to “Unified CRM” is the next chapter in customer engagement.

Author Kate Leggett is vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research. Read more from Forrester here.