"Accounts Receivable is the Key to CRM"
SAN MATEO, CA. — November 12, 2003 — In his keynote address at this week's salesforce.com user conference, the company's CEO Marc Benioff told the audience what NetSuite users have known for years: "Accounts Receivable is the Key to CRM," (Source: InfoWorld website, Nov. 10). This revelation is old news to NetSuite and Oracle Small Business Suite users, who have had integrated CRM and ERP functionality for well over two years. The Oracle Small Business Suite name is used under license from Oracle Corp. (NASDAQ: ORCL).
Unfortunately for salesforce.com users, it appears they won't get the accounts receivable, order management, and invoicing features highlighted in the keynote address anytime soon. According to InfoWorld, Mr. Benioff indicated that such features will not be available until 2004, marking the third major date slip of these "key" features. In September 2002, Mr. Benioff promised the features before the end of 2002 (http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,3959,522384,00.asp). When that date was missed, Mr. Benioff said customers would be live on such features in March 2003 (http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,3959,922986,00.asp). Finally, in May 2003, Mr. Benioff indicated such capabilities would be available by the end of 2003 (http://www.infoworld.com/article/03/05/05/HNsalesforceerp_1.html).
"Customers' actual purchases define their relationship with your company, so if your CRM system doesn't track orders, you aren't going to be very effective at customer relationship management," said Zach Nelson, CEO of NetSuite. "Complex features like order management are much easier to talk about than they are to build and make work for customers."
Even if the fourth release date is the charm for salesforce.com, accounts receivable and order management modules don't begin to cover what is needed to support customer relationship management. Without significant additional ERP functionality in salesforce.com, many CRM questions will remain difficult to answer. How much is my sales team costing me? What commissions am I paying my sales people? How profitable is this customer? When can I deliver goods to a customer? What is the shipping number of my customer's package? What items are back-ordered and what stock do I want to move? What are the most profitable items I sell? Without an intelligent CRM/ERP system, these and many more crucial CRM questions remain unanswered.
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