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CRM integration: Can Web services help?

Hurwitz Group's CRM Midmarket PRO Study revealed telling information about the state of CRM application integration. Web services may offer an interesting solution to the problems companies face.

Market Analysis

CRM integration: Can Web services help?
Hurwitz Group's recent CRM Midmarket PRO Study revealed some interesting data about the state of integration efforts with regard to CRM applications. We surveyed 525 enterprises on their CRM strategies and found that:

  • Multiple CRM applications need to be integrated with each other. Driven by mergers and acquisitions and a fragmented budgeting process that leads companies to buy and implement overlapping solutions, multiple CRM applications and scattered customer databases prevail. Among the 330 firms that have not opted for an integrated suite approach to CRM, 41% need to integrate two CRM applications and another 19% need to integrate three or more.

  • Non-CRM applications are in the mix as well. CRM systems do not live in isolation, and firms are still challenged with integrating these applications with other custom, packaged, and legacy applications. About 40% of all 525 firms had either not integrated their CRM applications with non-CRM applications at all (19%) or were in the very early stages of integration (21%).

THE HURWITZ TAKE: What does this data tell us? Not surprisingly, application-centric stovepipes make it difficult for a firm to tackle integration without investing — as an enterprise — in messaging infrastructure and other middleware solutions. At the same time, application vendors have not made cross-application integration any easier by erecting proprietary walls around their architectures. The solution may well be Web services, and most of the major application vendors are getting behind core Web service standards like SOAP and WSDL. To test their commitment for the long haul, users should closely monitor the application vendors with regard to emerging standards like WS-Interoperability (WS-I) and Business Process Execution Language for Web Services (BPEL4WS).

Copyright 2002 Hurwitz Group Inc. This article is excerpted from TrendWatch, a weekly publication of Hurwitz Group Inc. - an analyst, research, and consulting firm. To register for a free email subscription, click here.

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