Singapore catching the CRM bug


Singapore catching the CRM bug

Oliver Spalding

Oliver Spalding on how businesses in Singapore and across Asia might be missing a trick in how they invest in and operate customer-centric technologie
The potential is clear, but there are still barriers. Many of of them come down to organisational readiness for change and technology hype. 

Retail is transforming with ecommerce share forecast to grow from 2.1% in 2015 to 6.7% by 2025 (US$5.4 billion). Ecommerce and CRM work perfectly together to create an exceptional retail and clienteling experience. 

Singapore is betting big on big data and IOT. The government boosting spending to $500m in 2017 and P&G’s opened a $100m new digital innovation centre. Data produced, collected and analysed by IoT can transform organizations in how they interact with customers. 

Ad spend is finally pivoting away from traditional media. Digital will account for 23.8% of media spending or SG$376.5 million, an increase of 18% (eMarketer and IAB). Programmatic media effectiveness is driven by access to rich customer data.

The potential is clear, but there are still barriers. Many of of them come down to organisational readiness for change and technology hype. 

The CMO and the CIO are not always on the same page. Anyone that has seen the latest Marketing Technology Landscape (now at 5,381 solutions) understands that the CMO needs to make technology decisions in partnership with the expertise of the CIO, not in place of them. The CIO needs staff with deep marketing technology knowledge. The CMO needs to be involved in technology decisions from beginning to end, not in handing over requirements. Sharing revenue-based outcomes helps to focus this process, but too often marketing department metrics are not built on company performance or customer impact.

Data processing and data activation. According to Oracle, Analytics capability is now a sweet spot for Singapore. Not only can the analytics team be at the forefront of building models to attribute revenue-based performance and customer impact, they also need to be at the forefront of decisions on how to activate data across touchpoints.

Over emphasis on quick wins over strategic bets. If ever there was a signal of the jarring disconnect between capital expenditure and operational planning it’s the term ‘quick win’. There’s nothing wrong with the term itself, new technology should improve the speed of processes and speed to market, but there should be a systematic testing plan in place well in advance of a new system becoming operational. Nothing risks the customer relationship more than a sudden sales push. The testing methodology should calculate benefit or risk to the customer relationship equally to the business opportunity.

The lights are on, but no one is home. Who is going to run and operate all this shiny new tech? Do you plan to entice marketing technologists, who are notoriously hard to find in Asia Pacific, or will you upskill the marketing department, and if so, over what time-period? Gartner proposes that Marketing Operations should represent 10% of staff in a tech company. The function typically manages dashboards, assets and automation, but is becoming increasingly strategic. I propose that Marketing Operations should represent 10% of staff in the marketing department.

Do not discount the ‘soft power’ of Change Management. No matter what CRM system you’re using, driving a culture of CRM usage is key to success. Software should be mostly benefits, but there are always compromises. It’s the culture and organizational behavior that makes it stick. This comes down to stakeholder-led change and planning for change management over a 3-4 year horizon. Tech vendors could do with being a bit more zen too. Nothing sells better than the dream of technology, but people and their contributions are just as much part of the business case.

CRM is at the heart of a new technology eco-system that can help businesses to become more customer-centric in a connected world, with three things to keep at the forefront of the process. 

1)      Instil a CRM culture so that the principles of customer-centricity and customer impact permeate through the business

2)    Develop a roadmap for CRM & Marketing Operations maturity and a resourcing plan

3)    Implement a KPI testing plan and methodology during the set-up phase not after go-live. Find the low hanging fruit but also make some bigger strategic bets with higher reward.