Business-to-business (B2B), sometimes referred to as e-business, e-commerce or e-biz, is the commercial
exchange of products and services between businesses (rather than between businesses and consumers).
An earlier pre-Internet form of B2B was Electronic Data Interchange (EDI). EDI remains popular today for the
electronic shipment of sales orders, purchase orders, invoices, payments and similar accounting transactions.
CRM relevance: Moderately relevant. As the B2B industry is significantly larger than the B2C industry, most
web-based CRM applications cater to this industry much more so than the B2C industry.
Back Office Software
Back-office software generally includes those business software applications used by "back office" staff, such as accounting and financial software systems, human resource information systems, payroll systems and manufacturing applications. Back office software stands in contrast to front office software which generally includes those software applications which are customer facing such as CRM.
CRM relevance: Moderate at the moment. The online CRM software solutions continue to deepen their SFA (sales force automation), marketing and customer support applications while for the most part ignoring delivery or integration to back-office accounting, financial and ERP software systems. The two web-based CRM exceptions to this rule are NetSuite and Aplicor. Salesforce.com previously made an attempt to deliver an Accounts Receivable module in about 2004 and 2005, which had the opportunity to expand into complete back office accounting, however, that project failed and seems to have motivated Salesforce.com to stay clear of back office software except for third party solutions. The unfortunate side of integrating third party accounting and financial systems to CRM systems is that the two generally use very different user interfaces (which extends learning curves and user adoption), don't upgrade in unison (thereby maintaining an almost permanent out of sync status between the
two products) and frankly never integrate without ongoing problems and required trouble-shooting.
A best practice is a technique or method that through experience and research is proven to achieve a desired result. A few web-based CRM software systems include best practice libraries and adaptive workflow processes to implement and support best practice adoption.
CRM relevance: Moderately relevant. While demand and adoption for best practices implementation and achievement rise, the concept is still relatively unused by the masses of CRM users.
BI (Business Intelligence)
Business intelligence (BI) is a broad category of information analysis generated from software programs which retrieve, consolidate, aggregate, analyze, share and distribute to empower users to make better business decisions. BI software applications often include data marts, data warehouses, online analytical processing (OLAP), statistical analysis, data mining, forecasting, and decision support systems (DSS).
CRM relevance: Highly relevant. The ability to transition data to information and information to analysis is a key success factor for most organizations and provides true competitive advantage for those organizations who can use the information and analysis to make better and more timely management decisions.
BPM (Business Process Management)
Business process management (BPM) is a methodical approach to improving an organization's business processes. BPM activities seek to make business processes more effective, more efficient, and more capable of adapting to a continually changing environment. A business process is a set of sequenced tasks and activities performed by people and/or equipment which will lead to accomplishing a predicted result. The Business Process Management Initiative (BPMI) is a non-profit organization which exists to promote the standardization of common business processes as a means of furthering e-business and business-to-business (B2B) development. The organization has produced the Business Process Modeling Language (BPML), an Extensible Markup Language (XML)-based meta-language for modeling business processes.
CRM relevance: Highly relevant. The lack of documented and understood business processes is a commonly cited factor attributed to failed CRM software implementations. Nearly all practitioners agree that business processes must be well defined before they can be automated in a CRM information system.
BPR (Business Process Reengineering)
Business process reengineering (BPR) is the analysis and redesign of an organization's business processes. BPR reached its heyday in the early 1990's when Michael Hammer and James Champy published their best-selling book, "Reengineering the Corporation". Hammer and Champy believed that information technology was a key enabler for radical change and that the design of workflow in most large corporations was based on assumptions about technology, people, and organizational goals that were no longer valid. The authors identified seven principles of reengineering to streamline the work process and thereby achieve significant levels of improvement in quality, time management, and cost:
- Organize around outcomes, not tasks
- Identify all the processes in an organization and prioritize them in order of redesign urgency
- Integrate information processing work into the real work that produces the information
- Treat geographically dispersed resources as though they were centralized
- Link parallel activities in the workflow instead of just integrating their results
- Put the decision point where the work is performed, and build control into the process
- Capture information once and at the source
CRM relevance: Highly relevant. Taking the time to review and reengineer business processes as a precursor or in conjunction with a CRM implementation project is highly advisable. Several online CRM systems provide workflow tools which can automate business processes with great flexibility.