The Middle Market, 50 to 500 employees, and up to 200 'seats', will be the biggest area of prospective growth, and the biggest challenge, for CRM vendors and applications in 2003. A relatively small proportion of these companies have implemented CRM in any form or fashion, and leading the charge to capture this market will be Microsoft using .NET technology. Other vendors will be looking to flank Microsoft with lower prices or other elements of incremental value.
Still, even with developing customer relationship architecture and systems, the central issue within this marketplace will be timely, in-depth, relevant customer data which leads to opportunities for higher levels of customer loyalty behavior. These companies will have the ability to store, mine, and apply customer information; however, so few of them have developed truly applicable data in the first place, allowing them to be intimate with customers and tailor experiences and communication with them on an individual basis, that this will begin to be seen, at last, as the important 'new' priority for business that, in reality, it always has been. Without clean, high quality, leveraged anecdotal and dimensional customer data, the best architecture and systems will be weak foundations for revenue growth, offering relatively little strategic advantage.
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