Can customer relationship management (CRM) really help generate revenue? You bet!
C-level sales executives might disagree and claim, "Sales people drive sales, not IT." In the context of traditional CRM solutions, they are right.
A shift from the past
Before I venture to explain why a next generation CRM solution built for semiconductor and component manufacturers can in fact help drive more designs and revenue into the funnel, we must first take a look at the past.
I wrote an article in 2007 entitled CRM: Vertically Challenged. It outlined the drawbacks of generic CRM solutions in supporting the business needs of semiconductor and component manufacturers. Now the landscape has changed. Today, I could write about "CRM: the Vertical Advantage."
CRM goes vertical
The importance of adapting CRM solutions to vertical industries has grown dramatically during the past few years. An example is the emergence of companies like Veeva Systems that within five years, has achieved dominance in pharmaceuticals, displacing Siebel. Another example is Salesforce.com, which in 2013 aligned its go-to-market organization around six vertical industry business units.
Companies like SAP, Oracle, and Microsoft seem content to rely on the service providers in their eco-system to create customizations that bridge gaps in their solutions. These three legacy companies have not committed their product lines to support specific industries. Therefore customers that purchase from them must accept less relevant function and higher cost of ownership as part of the package —and then customize solutions to meet requirements.
Why semiconductor & component companies are challenged by CRM
Generic CRM fails to meet the basic requirements of semiconductor and component companies. Why? Because semiconductor and component enterprises operate in a multi-tiered value chain.
Between the chip or component maker and its end customer lies a network of manufacturing reps, original design manufacturers (ODMs), distributors, and contract manufacturers (CMs), and electronic manufacturing services (EMS) companies. CRM solutions do not address this fundamental concept. Apple, for example, is an end customer that does not purchase directly, but through a contract manufacturer that buys through a distributor. So the semiconductor or component supplier has a hard time discovering if and when the business was won.
Design registrations generated by the channel are not supported by standard CRM solutions either though these registrations require review and approval. After all, they drive visibility into channel-generated demand, and pricing and incentives to the channel. Industry-automated data exchanges, like RosettaNet, are also unsupported.
As a result most CRM deployments separately manage channel funnel and direct funnel. They rely on business intelligence (BI) tools to approximate a picture of actual demand. Demand signals can be generated around the globe and through multiple entities. So it is very difficult for companies within the industry to identify similar or duplicate opportunities generated through different channels and regions.