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Data query management (DQM) tools that bypass the data warehousing architecture and provide real-time access and integration in heterogeneous DBMS platform environments have emerged as a technological alternative to DWH for certain applications. This may be ideal for limited volumes and transactions that have many applications, especially when merged with powerful OLAP reporting tools, but this is not the complete answer for CRM. A technology transition in the market merging or replacing the ETL, EAI (enterprise application integration) and DQM tools into flexible, scalable, intelligent information logistics networks (ILNs) that route data to and from information-craving entities based on prescribed business rules may be a solution in the future (Hennig-Thurau & Hansen, 2000, p. 24).
Enterprise portals are becoming a popular vehicle for effectively handling ab information glut and disseminating information to wherever it is needed, enabling a wide array of customer-driven strategies. The enterprise portal involves an Internet framework as a platform for web-based CRM. Enhancements can include personalization, fast and easy product configuration, speedy and secure customer transactions, remote help centers and more. Those organizations that keep their focus firmly on the enterprise and the customer as they evaluate and integrate end-to-end technology solutions will experience lower risk, better results and faster implementation and return on investment (ROI) (Camarata et al., 1998, p. 26).
Web-enabled CRM is fast becoming one of today's most vital e-business applications. These applications have the power to build an enormous amount of value, as they allow collection, organization and dissemination of a wealth of customer information. The ease of ordering via the Internet and the associated reduction in cost-to-purchase improve customer relationships. CRM now relies on a huge range of applications and resources, from customer databases and call centers to online storefronts and enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications, but the greatest strength lies in web-enabled integration. This leads to better decisions and greater efficiencies throughout the supply chain, which benefits every participant (Delio, 2000, p. S22). Leading companies will continue to offer a full range of channel options, buy-direct sales and other high-cost interactions that will be focused on the unique problems of valuable customers. At the same time, the routine, straightforward requirements of all customer segments will gravitate towards the web (Delio, 2000, p. S24). The web's extensive reach and its presentation capabilities help one navigate through an ocean of information, and with web tools true statistical analysis and query reporting can be performed, thereby allowing data manipulation in real time (Dowling & Uncles, 1997, p. 96).
Too often hard data on customers is largely unavailable; obtainable data are fragmented and scattered over multiple computer sites and systems, hidden away in transaction database fields. To a large degree, this scattering of customer data can be blamed on the demise of centralized systems. Over the 1990s, the explosive growth of client-server applications has led to the creation of many independent transaction-oriented databases. Hidden in many of these databases is a wealth of valuable customer data-data that can be used to enhance marketing programs and add value to customer service. To provide an information base to support strategic decision-making, many organizations are now using data mining and DWH applications. Effective distribution of such customer information is one of the major benefits of CRM (Glover, 2000, p. 89). By combining the wealth of the data gathered and the power of predictive modeling, marketers are able to target the right customer, at the right time, in the right place and with the right product.
Many businesses are just not customer-oriented, and installing a CRM system will however provide little or no advantage. One of the key components of CRM is the ability to perform analytics beyond simply "pulling reports out of a data mart." Analysts brand these analytical capabilities as business performance management (BPM). Data warehouses and BPM are basic investments for building and operating a customer-centric business (Day, 1969, p. 2).
There has to be a link between the customer interface with the company and the database system storing incoming information. This also has to work in the opposite direction, i.e., information from operational systems has to be imported into the contact management system. This interactivity can go even further if productivity improvements need to be achieved through technology (Ahlert, Henning, "Enterprise Customer Management: Integrating Corporate and Customer Information") (Jenkins, 1999, p. 264).
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