Just the Stats: The Sad, Sad State of CRM Integration

Loraine Lawson

So, what about customer relationship management (CRM) integration? How are you doing with that?

Destination CRM recently published a column by Tijl Vuyk outlining all the reasons why companies should focus on integrating CRM with other business processes. Vuyk is the founder and CEO of Redmond Software, which — and I know this will shock you — specializes in business process automation solutions.

Still, it’s hard to disagree with the general sentiment that CRM systems would work better if they were integrated with other enterprise systems. In fact, I don’t think I’d dare after reading research recently released by Scribe Software, which specializes in customer data integration.

Now, I’ll grant you, these are vendor stats, but we all know silos are a fact of life for most applications. So, I lean toward taking them at face value.

The company surveyed 300 IT and business leaders, including systems integrators, VARs and other partners, from a variety of industries and company sizes. In general, it’s clear integration of CRM data hasn’t been a top priority. Here’s a look at some of the key findings:

15 percent. Respondents at end-user organizations who reported full integration among customer-facing systems.

50 percent. Those who claimed partial integration, but, at least there’s this …

35 percent. Respondents who say they’re beginning the “customer data integration journey.” We wish them well.

Not surprisingly, that picture does change a bit when you talk to the systems integrators, VARs and others who bring the integration.

26 percent. Systems integrators who report their customers  are achieving full integration.

62 percent. SIs who report customers have partial integration.

One reason CIOs might want to focus on integrating CRM is so business leaders can draw on better data when making decisions. Alas, it seems that hasn’t been much of a driver to date.

11 percent. CRM systems that are fully integrated with BI applications, according to the responses given by businesses.

8 percent. Those who’ve integrated mobile and CRM.

But how about social data? Everybody’s integrating that, right? While it’s certainly discussed a lot, the survey shows a different story:

6 percent. Those who’ve integrated CRM with social data.

One thing that was interesting about Vuyk’s column is he’s advocating cloud-based integration for CRM. That makes sense. After all, Scribe found 51 percent of end-user companies say they’re using a hybrid approach, with on-premise and cloud-based, customer-facing systems. That number goes up again, to 65-69 percent, when you talk to systems integrators. Heck, 11 percent of business respondents are operating with cloud-only environments.

So you would think cloud-based systems would be better integrated, given how business-critical CRM data is, but Scribe’s survey found that even in the cloud — or, actually, especially in the cloud — CRM remains a silo.

33 percent. Cloud-based CRM systems that are effectively silos, meaning they are not integrated with other systems, compared to …

9 percent. Siloed on-premise CRM systems.

Fortunately, the survey found there’s support for change, since only 4 percent of businesses report being very satisfied with their integration.

40 percent. Businesses that say they will increase investments in customer-facing systems.

84 percent. SIs who say they expect their clients to spend more on customer-facing systems.

So, that could indicate change is afoot when it comes to CRM data.

But here’s the part that just kills me: When asked how they’d handle CRM integration …

45 percent will use third-party integration software. (Good for them.)

59 percent will develop their custom code. (Any guesses on how many times they’ll then redo that code in the next few years?) But even more incredibly …

35 percent will manually enter the data.

Yes. Manually. Re-enter. Data.

It’s kind of depressing to think about it, really. Although, I guess it does mean jobs, so there’s a bit of silver lining. And think of how much they’ll have to spend fixing data quality problems later! That’s good news for somebody, right?

“Despite all the talk about integration, businesses still have a long way to go to implement Customer Relationship Management (CRM) integration in a meaningful way,” Scribe’s report notes.

That’s a bit of an understatement, it seems. CRM is a critical business system, but it’s being ran as a silo. That’s not only limiting for businesses, it’s frustrating for customers.

Maybe it’s time to put the “relationship” back in CRM.

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