Customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) software are growing closer together, and respondents to Delta research expect the two to merge into a single solution in the near future.
Both CRM and ERP are designed to increase business profitability: one by fostering customer relationships and the other by improving efficiency and guiding decision-making. Both systems contain customer information, and data often overlaps; multiple records may exist for the same company or individual, affecting business efficiency.
As firms become more comfortable with the idea of data as a valuable resource, the drive to consolidate all databases under a single product is increasing. This avoids effort duplication and enables firms to coordinate resources more efficiently.
In Delta research, only nine per cent of survey respondents thought that CRM and ERP would remain separate platforms in the future.
Do you see ERP and CRM as…
Modern CRM systems now integrate much of the functionality that would previously have been found in ERP, with the common thread being information management: of the customer or the product.
The Head of IT at an NGO said:
"I suppose in our business, and other organisations that have used CRM, they have felt a bit siloed to a degree; obviously the customer is the index, that's the common thread that runs across both systems, but certainly some of the newer ERP and CRM platforms I've seen, there is a bit of a convergence…
"I'd say moving away from the different platforms, the one platform is probably something that everybody aspires to. Whether or not that's something that's going to change markedly or eat into that different platform part of the pie, it will take time, but I think that would certainly be an ambition."
Smaller businesses are most likely to adopt a multi-functional CRM/ERP product today; however, CRM vendors are increasingly pushing into the ERP space for enterprise-scale companies. SAP is one example, with the Global Head of Infrastructure and Operations at a manufacturing firm saying, "We are probably the only multinational that runs a single instance of SAP running all [of our] needs."
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