Prognostication Scorecard, Part 3

This is the last of a three-part series that looks back at some industry forecasts I made when I started this column back in early 2001, which, in some important ways, seems a million years ago.

In parts one and two, I assessed the accuracy of my first three predictions. Let’s wrap up with prognostications number four and five.

Prediction No. 4: eCRM, like CRM, will begin to be seen as part of the supply chain (now called the demand chain).

Looking back, I can’t believe I wrote this drivel. In all fairness, the software industry clearly did head in this direction. ERP vendors such as SAP, PeopleSoft, JD Edwards, and Oracle now all offer CRM capabilities with prebuilt integration into legacy/back-office applications and data.

The fact remains in most organizations, the worlds of front and back offices operate very independently. What little data is shared is ported between systems and/or batch processed for standalone analytic applications such as financial forecasting and planning.

Someday, business will make the investment and integrate demand forecasting with capacity planning and management. They’ll do this to capitalize on hidden trends in demand as well as to better match extant market demand with production. But they probably won’t do this any time soon.

Prediction No. 5: eCRM, like CRM, will remain extremely challenging to implement.

Of all five of my predictions, this has out to be the most accurate — unfortunately. Although many organizations have implemented CRM software packages (or built their own, homegrown systems), much CRM remains “shelfware” (unused). If it is used, it’s merely a consolidated (as opposed to integrated) repository of customer information.

A few innovative companies have taken the next logical step: undertaking application integration strategies to create new business processes, using this centralized information store to understand what customers value, and mobilizing operations accordingly with loyalty programs, customized products and services, and innovative discount pricing schemes.

My predictions reflect a very different time and mindset, forged in the mistaken belief businesses were really coming to terms with focusing on their customers and sticking only to what they did best to deliver competitive value.

Maybe I’ll work on some new projections. If I do, I’ll try to be a little more objective.

Agree? Don’t agree? Got an interesting insight, opinion, or real-world example to share? What are your thoughts? Write me at Arthur.oconnor@reuters.com.

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