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Wednesday 25 March 2009

Leveraging core CRM with mashups

Interesting comments from Michael Maoz at Gartner who points out that for many organizations there isn’t much choice in their core CRM provider, and that this isn’t going to change any time soon…
…. We are going to see a lot more business settling on one core platform vendor, and then wrapping around that vendor offering the best of breed components that fit into a service-orientated ecosystem. Much of that ecosystem will be Cloud-based, and many of the participants will be short-lived companies and applications, but they might just be your shortcut to market advantage.
It seems to me that this type of “wrapping” is being increasingly sought as customer service organizations are (1) struggling to drive out the efficiencies demanded by the current business climate by innovating with their existing applications and (2) figuring out how to capitalize on the opportunities from “CRM2.0”

However, depending on the path taken to incorporate that extra functionality, it might not be easy. During our 5+ years of dealing with customer service and support organizations, we’ve seen that companies often implement a core CRM platform but then hit a dead end when they try to drive efficiencies and adapt to new ways of working. Customizing and extending CRM applications can be difficult, risky, and expensive.
This is where enterprise mashups come into play, providing a low risk and innovative way to wrap components around a core platform.  At Corizon we call it “integration without customization” a lightweight and rapid way to extend major applications such as Siebel or SAP to streamline core processes.  The result is just the sort of service oriented approach that Michael calls for, allowing organizations to cope with participants being short lived, as organizations and the market experiment and evolve.  
As organizations seek to make existing processes more efficient, enterprise mashups are taking off. Where customization created new dependencies, mashups are creating new freedoms: the freedom to modify complex business processes, and the freedom to choose the best application for every task. Businesses might have a limited menu of CRM platforms to choose from, but they have unlimited choice in how they deploy and manage them. 

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Friday 13 March 2009

Enterprise Mashup as a Capability

Why do we need Enterprise Mashups as a capability of IT? As Dion Hinchcliffe explains in this post, there is a lot unmet software demand due to small projects not being economically viable:
... almost any IT system is going cost in the hundreds of thousands or low millions even to get off the ground. This means that many smaller, niche demands, which statistically, are very likely to be larger than the demand for big IT systems in an organization (The Long Tail), are actually continuing to go dramatically underserved ...
As he further explains, Enterprise Mashups are in a perfect position to enable the business to fulfill this demand. What is not talked about, are the different deployment options of these mashups. Depending on the context of the functionality it delivers and the type of user it delivers it to, the deployment pattern of the mashup should change. For an "ad-hoc" pattern, you might want to deploy the mashup as a gadget on the desktop. For a "project" pattern you will want to deploy it inside a project portal, while for a "process" pattern you will want the mashup to be deployed as an extension to an Enterprise Application.

Choosing the wrong deployment pattern of a Enterprise Mashup could restrict its benefit and in some case dramatically increase the number of applications on the desktop. Especially when deploying an "ad-hoc" pattern where a "process" pattern would have been more appropriate, the user will suddenly need to become aware of what mashup are relevant to which task and where to find it. He or she will have to copy data to and from an Enterprise Application and mashups. The ultimate swivel chair nightmare!

So what does it mean to extend Enterprise Applications with mashup capabilities? It means facilitating the embedding of mashups inside these applications so that the business is able to add functionality to them for their specific "long tail" needs, e.g. extending a CRM application with a Network Diagnostics Mashup for the customer's region to enable the agent to anticipate and analyse possible causes of connectivity problems. By providing this capability the short lived, specific requirements of a business division can become part of the same application that is serving the long term requirements of an entire enterprise. But this time, it can deliver this to a specific user groups and for a specific process only, without requiring changes to the underlying application. This is what we at Corizon call "Integration without Customisation".

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Wednesday 11 March 2009

Looking for hundreds of small things with Uncle Sam

During World War II the American government faced an unprecedented challenge: the need to increase industrial output while its workforce was depleted by troops away fighting in Europe.

To overcome the problem, the government published a guide to improving efficiency for its employees and departments. Some sentences caught my eye:

“Look for hundreds of small things you can improve. There isn’t time for major items. Look for improvements on existing jobs with present equipment.”

Sound familiar? Do you need to make changes to your business: to maintain momentum, manage through the downturn, or exploit new opportunities? How can you accomplish these goals when resources such as your workforce, sales revenues and operational cashflow are under pressure?

As the Dow hovers below 7,000 points, once-steadfast blue-chip shares trade below a dollar and every economist’s crystal ball has gone suddenly cloudy, this is not the time to throw away what you have and buy new.

Instead, any change should be incremental and designed to protect and maximize every valuable asset within your business: people, knowledge, technology infrastructure, software and successful processes.

This philosophy - to do things faster with fewer resources at lower risk - is at the heart of what Corizon does. We help businesses deliver faster, more cost effectively through an approach of incremental change: review existing processes; adapt existing applications (even eliminate redundant applications); drive user efficiency, through a succession of short, low risk projects - and by extension protect and increase revenues, profitability and customer satisfaction.

Today’s businesses and government departments would do well to leaf through some old government handbooks. There’s a lot to be learned from history.

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