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The IT community clearly realises the bottom-line benefits of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) but lacks the necessary “know-how” to take the first steps.

This is the message in a BT survey that reveals how more than a third of those IT directors with a CRM strategy highlighted a lack of understanding and systems integration concerns as key inhibitors to implementation.

However, 76 per cent of IT managers are aware of the benefits of CRM, with those companies who have implemented a strategy citing increased customer satisfaction (74 per cent), increased profits (42 per cent) and increased knowledge management within their organisation (71 per cent) as key benefits.

Surprisingly though, two thirds of companies do not have a CRM strategy at all, and more than half of respondents stated they have no plans to implement one.

“It is encouraging that UK businesses are recognising the bottom-line value of CRM, said Clare Arnold, head of Customer Relationship Management, at BT Major Business. “What is alarming, however, is that companies are falling short at the ‘how to’ stage, which clearly is hindering CRM adoption and highlights the education still needed in the marketplace.”

Companies were also asked how far they had progressed with the development of their CRM strategy. While more than three-quarters of respondents were in the planning or initial steps of implementation, only 12 per cent had integrated their CRM strategy with legacy systems and a mere 7 per cent had a completely integrated strategy, with all departments being able to access all relevant data.

Other highlights from the research:

- Company culture was cited in 46 per cent of cases as the main barrier to adopting a Customer Relationship Management strategy.

- 89 per cent of IT directors recognise CRM as a management issue, while only 8 per cent still believe it’s a technology issue. This is a clear sign that CRM is making its way up the value-chain of management priorities. However, with the ‘lack of understanding’ and systems integration issues cited as barriers to CRM adoption by IT directors, this would also suggest that IT departments should be involved right from the outset in the planning stages of a CRM strategy.

- 76 per cent of IT directors highlighted CRM as the way forward.

- 62 per cent of respondent believe that companies that don’t adopt CRM practices will be competitively disadvantaged.

Editors Notes:

The research conducted by The Practice and commissioned by BT was carried out in November-December 2000. 207 companies were interviewed across the following sectors: Finance, Education, Business Services, IT/Telecomms, Wholesale and Retail, Utilities, Travel and Leisure, Healthcare, Legal, Transport, Manufacturing, Construction and Agriculture.

For more information please contact:

Faith Wootton/Valerie Weisenreder

Band & Brown Communications

020 7419 7000

faith@bbpr.com/valerie@bbpr.com


About BT

British Telecommunications plc is one of the world's leading providers of telecommunications services and one of the largest private sector companies in Europe. Its principal activities include local, long distance and international telecommunications services, mobile communications, Internet services and IT solutions. In the UK, BT serves 28 million exchange lines and more than seven million mobile customers, as well as providing network services to other licensed operators.

BT has operations worldwide, with ventures, for example, in the Republic of Ireland, France, Spain, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, New Zealand, Japan, Latin America and India.
In April, 2000, the company announced a re-grouping of its activities into new, self-contained business units. These are:

- BT Ignite, an international broadband network business, focussed primarily on corporate and wholesale markets;

- BTopenworld, an international, mass-market Internet business;

- BT Wireless, an international mobile business, with a particular emphasis on mobile data;

- Yell, an international directories and associated e-commerce business;

- BT Retail, serving end-business and residential customers; and

- BT Wholesale, selling network capacity and call terminations to other carriers.

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