The Promise of Productivity

By David Strom Print this article Print

Wikis, hosted CRM tools, and Web-based discussion forums and messaging products enable better cross-pollination of ideas and boost sales with improved customer support.

The Promise of Productivity

The fourth step involves integrating with legacy contact management and e-mail systems. This is critical for achieving the productivity gains promised by many cloud-based collaborative tools.

Don Montgomery is the former vice president of marketing for a Malvern, Pa., company that developed its own customized version of customer-tracking software. It was based on Salesforce.com and included heavy integration with Microsoft’s Exchange, so the company could send e-mails to clients from within Salesforce.com. “As a result of our ability to keep track of prospects and clients, we were able to boost our customer renewal rate from 80 percent to over 95 percent,” he recalls.

This level of integration is lacking at ZATZ Publishing in Palm Bay, Fla., which uses Zoho CRM software. The major drawback is the lack of integration with the company’s Outlook and e-mail systems. “A lot of CRM systems are notoriously unreliable when they try to sync with Outlook,” says David Gewirtz, editor in chief at ZATZ. “Ideally, I’d like to be able to correspond either in Outlook or the CRM system and have information recording and filing happen automatically. We’d like more transparent integration with Outlook.”

Jon Whitlock, the vice president of market development at Managed Technology Partners in Boston, agrees that integration is important. The company uses both 37signals’ Basecamp and Salesforce.com tools. The former is used to handle Managed Technology’s client projects as a common place to share files and provide updated status reports.

“More integration with e-mail and contacts will be a critical component going forward, as well as the major limiting factor in our use of cloud computing,” Whitlock says. “Salesforce has great integration, but you have to live within its boundaries.”

This article was originally published on 2009-08-03
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