Bottom line, today the text based notes stored within CRM systems are relatively useless. The time taken to read them during each interaction nullifies much or all of the benefit, depending on the speed reading capabilities of the agent/CSR. I am starting to see the next generation of thinking on this, and its going to be controversial, because of the enormous spend on CRM to date.
Colin's comments come along at the same time as I'm looking at the "Next Generation BPMS" - not BPM 2.0, which when described by Ismael Ghalimi has a central theme of standards based modeling, simulation, analytics and of course process execution. I'm thinking of an all-encompassing business suite that incorporates not just process and all of its supporting capabilities, but also content, integration, collaboration, security, identity, metadata repository and a host of supporting admin and configuration features. Should CRM be a component of a Next Gen BPMS?
James, writing Enterprise Decision Management (EDM) blog often touches on CRM for customer service. A recent post talks about the use of EDM or BPM for call routing in a call center. Both EDM and BPM can make use of customer data or profiles to help decide how to route a call most appropriately. In this environment, the customer data would probably be held in the CRM. It is only the customer data that is used for automated decisions, and many of the facets of CRM including the text-based history of customer interactions are not required. Maybe a relational database schema would have been sufficient to capture this data.
I have tried looking at BPM vendors that have addressed this question in the past. Pega obviously shapes its process offerings around its CRM background. As I understand it they have a strong (although not alway rapid to define) object model that represents the customer data, supported by a process engine. The analysis and definition that is performed is typically approached from this standpoint, rather than the process standpoint that would typically be attacked by other BPM vendors. Activities and display are driven from the data, so this is important, and makes customer data central to their focus.
Way back pre-TIBCO, Staffware acquired a CRM vendor. When I saw it (pre-Vignette, when Tower Technology was a leading Staffware partner in the UK), the CRM component was not really integrated with the workflow and it was hard to visualize how the two were going to work together effectively. Looking at TIBCO's website it is hard to see if the CRM technology exists in any of their offerings. Perhaps some of it was fully embedded into the iProcess engine. If that is the case, it is more of a relational data model that is important, not the full blow CRM capability.
At this stage in my Next Gen BPMS definition CRM is not a component. Instead I'm going with a BPMS that provides flexible case folders supported by definition and access to relational data, internal or external to the system. This BPMS allows me to represent any data I want to within a standard relational DB, or external system, using the data directly for process execution and displaying it seamlessly within a configurable user interface.
I'm open to offers on whether there is any more of CRM than a relational data model that I need. Anyone?