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Affordable CRM Solutions Reach the Mid-Market

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Posted January 31, 2002 By Staff     Feedback

In the past costly CRM software was exclusively the domain of large affluent corporations -- now all that seems to have changed.

In the past costly customer relationship management (CRM) software was exclusively the domain of large affluent corporations - now all that seems to have changed.

During November 2001, BT and Siebel decided to appeal to the 'sub-corporate' market by offering a jointly hosted CRM service that was priced for medium-sized e-players.

Separately, Siebel decided to adapt its Siebel 7 suite to cut the cost of entry and the suite now comes in 20 different configurations, each tailored to suit the processes of medium sized players within specific business arenas such as media, retail, travel, chemicals, oil, and gas.

Subsequently BT released another 'affordable' CRM product known as Contact Central that claimed to be faster to deploy and far cheaper than its predecessors. "Contact Central pre-integrates all the necessary components of a multimedia contact centre - including telephony, IP switching, hardware and software - to handle all forms of customer enquiries via voice, fax, email and Internet," read a press-release on the topic.

In the past, CRM solutions were situated solely within the price range of large, affluent organizations that could afford the expensive services of specialist IT contractors to help manage complex integration issues and unlock valuable customer data from legacy systems. Recently, however, the whole CRM ballgame seems to have transformed: According to Siemens and BT this change was driven by smaller players who, imperiled by the downturn, began to realize the importance of deploying CRM in fighting mounting online consumer dissatisfaction.

With more and more mid-sized corporations willing to commit themselves to customer-retaining initiatives, the CRM market now seems ripe for affordable solutions.

BT and Siebels are by no means alone in catering to the new 'sub-corporate' CRM scene. Another affordable entry yet into mid-market eCRM was announced last week by Computer Associates' subsidiary Accpac when it released a fully hosted CRM solution that retails for #80 a month in the UK. "For #80 per user per month businesses get to deploy a level of software that was previously reserved for multinationals," remarked Keith Fenner, assistant vice president of e-Business at Accpac.

Tru Spas, a British retailer of Spas, was an instant sign-on to the Accpac CRM solution. "Not too long ago we could never have afforded it - let alone run it ourselves," noted Tru Spas' Stephen Knapp.

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