Functionality and Delivery of CRM essay

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The one redeeming factor of these systems that comprise the Siebel CRM platform is the data portability and opportunity to move the data into a SaaS-based platform.

2. Microsoft CRM and Sales Force Automation - the consumer business is running the latest edition of Microsoft Dynamics CRM. The problem with this CRM system is the lack of mobility options as Microsoft lags behind SaaS-based CRM system providers with support for the Apple iPad and other tablet and smartphone devices.

3. SAP -- the procurement and supply chain management system in use by Verizon today, in addition to their centralized Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, is an SAP R/3 instance located in their corporate headquarters in New York, New York. Verizon designed the system to be multi-instance so each operating division would have the opportunity to customize procurement, supply chain and pricing to their specific needs. The problem is that the Siebel CRM and Microsoft CRM systems can't integrate to the R/3 system reliably. The it team at Verizon is resorting to the use of shell scripts written in the PERL programming language to ensure reliable communicate between systems. This is incredibly time consuming and error-prone, and a primary reason why the company can't produce accurate bids and quotes for enterprise-class systems quickly enough. The SAP system of record for products and transactions is also in ABAP format, a highly proprietary data structure which has been problematic for the Siebel system to even understand. SAP and Oracle, now the owner of the Siebel applications, have an adversarial relationship which further makes this integration difficult for Verizon to achieve.

4. Network and infrastructure -- Verizon relies on a network infrastructure that is based a series of T1 lines from their network headquarters to each regional procurement and supply chain center, followed by leased lines to its top 15% of suppliers across each region they source from. The company has created fault redundant data centers throughout North America and Europe, and has two in Asia. These data centers are unified through the use of Cisco All-in-One Routing Systems, in addition to the customized platforms for managing large-scale cellular and telecommunications switching platforms. Verizon also relies heavily on the Sun Solaris operating system to support the fault tolerant nature of its data centers, within Microsoft Windows Server 2008 running on the servers supporting the front-office functions.

5. Website -- Verizon has a highly complex series of websites and supporting servers, with the majority used for automated customer service and Web-based self-service. One of the factors that have led to Verizon being so successful with its consumer business, despite the high churn rate, is the ease of online payment and contract renewal. Verizon uses a series of advanced e-commerce systems and platforms to streamline online payment processing. There are also customized websites for the enterprise customers and government accounts, which are today not linked to the procurement and supply chain management systems. This is a major problem for sales teams calling on these account, as they must manually log into the SAP ERP system to complete bids and quotes where competitors can do this in real-time.

Detailed Options/Solutions

Verizon's greatest strategic weakness today is the lack of a single customer-based system of record across their entire business. The options for solving this problem range from creating a Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) strategy, defining a multi-tier ERP strategy, or creating globally Cloud platform strategy that will provide the integration support across all applications.

The major questions to be answered in determining which of the following options to accept are:

1. What are the costs of integration for the SOA, multi-tier ERP and global Cloud alternatives?

2. How will each of the three alternatives either contribute to or detract from the overall level of adoption for CRM today and in the future?

3. Which of the three alternatives most closely align with the specific needs and expectations of the customer? More specifically, which of these three options will be most effective in meeting and exceeding customers' expectations in terms of accuracy, speed and quality of service?

4. Which of these alternatives is most adaptable and scalable to the unique needs of a given market or region of the world?

5. Which has the least risk in terms of technology obsolescence and which the greatest?

A brief description of each of the alternatives is provided below, defining the customer-driven advantages of the SOA architecture strategy, multi-tier ERP strategy and global Cloud platform strategy:

SOA Architecture Strategy -- Starting with a comprehensive Web Service that scales across the 150 nations that Verizon competes in, this alternative is the riskiest in terms of adoption s it require entirely new CRM applications and systems. The Oracle CRM system in its present state is costly to maintain and also to customize. The SOA architecture that would work for Verizon would need to be based on the Oracle Fusion architecture, which itself is still nascent and now being called computing by Larry Ellison, the CEO of that company. The SOA architecture will also require the Verizon sales teams in the consumer markets to drastically change; which will be extremely difficult as this sales group typically churns the fastest. Verizon will end up with a massive re-education issue on their hands if they choose an SOA architecture as a result.

Multi-tier ERP Strategy -- Placing ERP systems in the most strategically important areas of the company's operations globally will provide the Verizon Wireless and Wireline divisions with much greater levels of control over their production processes and costing. It will also make it possible to create a more effective bidding and quoting system globally for the enterprise and government markets. The multi-tier ERP strategy will also lead to a much greater level of integration at the supplier level of the company globally. It will also quadruple the annual maintenance fees to SAP, drive up the costs of services to implement the systems, and also completely change how the Siebel system interacts on complex orders at a global level. So while there is the benefit of having a decentralized data structure for each region and better bidding and quoting workflows, it comes with a very high price paid to SAP and its system integration partners.

Global Cloud Platform Strategy -- the basis of this strategy is predicated on created a single, global customer system of record that is managed as a virtual resource throughout the entire architecture is the Force.com architecture from Salesforce.com. Using the integration adapters and customizable Application Programmer Interfaces (APIs) that Salesforce.com offers with its products and its partner ecosystem has, the existing ERP system could be easily integrated into this option. In addition, the export of Siebel data to Salesforce.com has been completed in the past with a comparable number of seats that Verizon has (Wang, Feng, 2012). Finally the Salesforce.com partner community has several bidding and quoting applications that can be easily customized to the specific needs of enterprise and government accounts. All of these factors are unified in a streamline, easily-used interface that can be customized to match how sales teams work today. The analytics in this application will also ma it much easier to measure customer satisfaction and focus on hwo to better strengthen key relationships, which is completely lacking in the existing CRM systems that Verizon is using today (Adalikwu, 2012).

High-level Implementation Plan

For Verizon to effectively implement a global Cloud-based CRM system, they will need to balance significant changes in technology with a comprehensive change management program. Both are defined below.

Changes in Technology

Beginning with their most expensive systems, which are the 10,000 seats of Siebel CRM they have running today, Verizon will need to define a sequenced migration, department by department, to Salesforce.com. The underlying databases that are running the Siebel CRM systems are running Sun Solaris, with Oracle 9i being the most recent database in operation today. The transition to Salesforce.com's CRM systems will begin with an integration to the Oracle 9i databases and a series of pilots completed first in North America and then across each of the consumer, business and government segments of Verizon's business. Following this integration will be the development of the Cloud-based integration to procurement and ERP systems, and the roll-out globally of a distributing bidding and quoting system. These systems will be tested across the Verizon Wireless and Wireline businesses followed by the development of tablet-based clients that all sales representatives can use globally. One of the greatest advantages of having a Cloud-based system is the ability to deliver a mobility-based strategy across all sales forces at the same time (Limbasan, Rusu, 2011). Verizon will be able to do this across all sales teams, giving enterprise and government sales representatives the opportunity to complete bids and quotes in real-time from anywhere eat any time via 3G and 4G support back to…[continue]

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