CRM growing at exponential rate

The market for customer relationship management (CRM) solutions in Canada is growing rapidly, according to research collected and published by International Data Corporation (Canada). And just as notable as the rate of adoption is just who is championing these solutions: business...

The market for customer relationship management (CRM) solutions in Canada is growing rapidly, according to research collected and published by International Data Corporation (Canada).

And just as notable as the rate of adoption is just who is championing these solutions: business and marketing managers, as opposed to the information systems crowd who frequently drive the adoption of IT solutions.

‘The decision to deploy a CRM solution is being spearheaded by business-side managers and executives,’ says Cameron Dow, manager of Canadian software research with Toronto-based IDC Canada. ‘The key players are sales and marketing managers, senior executives and senior business directors and managers.’

How fast is it growing? According to Dow’s numbers, CRM applications – primarily in the area of salesforce automation, marketing and customer support – will represent a $1-billion dollar market by 2003.

‘It’s the fastest-growing market, increasing at a rate of more than 60% annually,’ said Dow at a recent presentation hosted by IBM Canada and Siebel Systems Canada. ‘We estimate that in 1999, companies invested $200 million in CRM projects.’

Impressive numbers, but what does it all mean? Well, for one thing, it can mean a rapid return on investment. According to Rob Douglas, vice-president and general manager of Toronto-based Siebel Systems – a company specializing in sales, marketing and customer service software – companies implementing Web-based CRM solutions can see a return on investment in less than a year.

‘There is very quick payback,’ he continues, ‘but the integration of this sort of digital strategy must be part of the traditional channels of customer interaction. That’s why Amazon.com has a 1-800 tele-centre, and (brokerage firm) Charles Schwab is building bricks-and-mortar operations.’

But it also illustrates how the power in today’s economy has shifted from the supply side to the demand side, which means the customer is now fully in control. Traditional business models are no longer equipped to cope, says Douglas, adding all customer-contact channels – including call centres, field sales agents and the Web – must be integrated if companies are to maintain and improve customer retention and loyalty. He identifies financial services providers, telecommunications companies, high-tech firms and, potentially, governments as prime candidates for CRM services.

One company that appears to have benefited from a customer relationship management strategy is Winnipeg-based Ceridian Canada. The company provides payroll and human resources services to 37,000 Canadian companies of various size across Canada. With nearly two dozen offices across the country, Ceridian Canada president Jim Jarvis says the company’s old phone-based model wasn’t working when it came to dealing with its customer base. It was too labour-intensive and unwieldy, and hampered its fight for market share, he says. Working with IBM Canada and Siebel Systems, Ceridian implemented a multi-channel CRM software application.

The result was a Web-based payroll product with a data warehouse component that Ceridian uses to capture information used during each encounter with a customer.

‘We are now building a database of our history with each customer,’ says Jarvis. ‘Our whole business is based on transactions, so the retention aspect is important.’

Vancouver-based online coupon dispenser SUMmedia.com (see ‘SUMmedia turns coupon clippers into coupon clickers,’ Strategy DirectResponse, Nov. 8, 1999) has also recently implemented a CRM application – in its case, from Mississauga, Ont.-based Oracle Canada, running on Hewlett-Packard servers. According to David Noble, SUMmedia’s CIO, the solution allows the company to better respond to the evolving needs of its customers.

‘This CRM technology enables us to dynamically manage customer knowledge across the organization,’ he says. ‘This ensures vital information is both accessible and available to all our people at all times. As a customer ourselves, we want an integrated, Internet-based, information-management solution that can be implemented and integrated with our existing systems at Internet speed.’

Canadian CRM Facts

- CRM applications will represent a billion-dollar market by 2003

- Nearly one-third of the top investment opportunities in Canada this year will be CRM applications – more than e-commerce

- Customer support and salesforce automation is driving demand

- Source: IDC Canada

From Karen Howe’s dining table: Creativity, COVID and Cannes

ICYMI, The Township's founder gathers the best of the best campaigns and trends so far.

Cannes Base Camp

By Karen Howe

I’m attending Cannes from the glory of my dining room table. There’s not a palm tree in sight, yet inspiration and intel are present in abundance.

Cannes Lions is a global cultural pulse check. The social course correction in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and BLM has delivered far greater diversity in the judging panels as well as the work. And we are all better for it.

I’m proud to say that creativity defeated COVID, which speaks to its power. Great work and big ideas flourished, despite unimaginable odds.

The work from the past two years spans a vast emotional range. From the profundity of Dove’s “Courage is Beautiful” to the hyper exuberance of Burberry’s “Festive,” they are opposite ends of the spectrum, but each answered a need in us.

Take note, the ascendency of gaming cannot be understated. Smart brands have embraced the channel. It makes sense, because gamers participate to meet others around the world, not just to play. And they represent a huge and powerful community. That’s why QSR Wendy’s gamified their iconic gal in RPG’s Feast of Legends.

Burger King sponsored the unknown Stevenage Football Club, transforming the team into online heroes and vaulting BK into the fray at the same time. Once again, the brand embedded itself in culture.

The birth of gaming tourism arrived when Xbox snuggled up to travel guides and created a brilliant baby: a travel guide for gaming worlds. It, too, embedded itself in culture.

From the standpoint of social good, Reporter Without Borders showed how it worked with Mindcraft for its “Uncensored Library” to bypass press censorship, with Minecraft providing a loophole to a space where young people could be educated. It provided youth with a powerful tool to fight oppression: truth.

COVID changed us in unexpected ways. We learned how to pay attention again and there was a notable lack of 30-second commercials. Instead, longer format content thrived. Apple’s WFH was seven minutes long. Entertainment reigned king, so we find ourselves returning to our advertising roots.

Seeing competitive brands form partnerships was one of this year’s other great surprises. The brilliantly simple “Beer Cap Project” by Aguila to reduce binge-drinking saw the brand reach out to competitive beers to join in. Aguila put incentivizing (keyword: free) reminders to drink water, eat food and get home safely on its bottle caps from all sorts of fast food chains, ride-share co’s and H2O brands.

On a personal level, I’m so proud of Canada again this year. Given that it was two years of work from all over the world being judged, even making the Cannes shortlist was an accomplishment. Canada is herding in the Lions in tremendous numbers – and it’s not even over. Fingers are crossed.

KAREN-HOWE-PIC-higher-rez-300x263Karen Howe is a Canadian Cannes Advisory Board Member and founder of The Township Group