It’s not just the agent at the field level or team leader who benefits from flexibility and ease of cross-enterprise integration in the software developed by CRM and Customer Service and Support (CS&S) vendors. Executives require data to perform well, and software that locks the enterprise into certain ways of operating also lock the enterprise out of up-to-the-minute analysis and report capability.
With today’s great emphasis on analysis of corporate data, and current enterprise planning to leverage existing CRM technology (over the next five years, organizations will be looking to capitalize on the investments they’ve already made in CRM), executives are now calling for greater integration and customization. One of the more complex areas to do this is in the supply chain of the enterprise, especially as a result of the great percentage of the process nowadays given to outsourcing.
It has never been simple to manage the information that flows through a product supply chain. Companies must work closely with suppliers, logistics providers, distributors and retailers to collect and manage information about customer demand, sales orders, distribution schedules, production planning, manufacturing, sourcing and product design…But this task has become even more complex because outsourcing has stretched supply chains around the globe.
...executives have given up something valuable: easy access to critical data—such as details about quality, supplies on hand and manufacturing capacity—that could help raise productivity. – McKinsey & Company – Understanding supply chain risk
McKinsey gives the example of a computer hardware company’s supply planner, trying to meet a spike in demand for certain products, and needing capacity and inventory information from several components suppliers and several contract manufacturers. However, at the time of most critical need for information, the data may be locked up in the IT systems or spreadsheets of a dozen or more companies.
Similarly, they add, a manufacturer seeking to reduce warranty costs may want to connect data at the far ends of its supply chain, from field service technicians making repairs to components suppliers trying to keep their costs low. McKinsey points out that “reconnecting the dots isn’t easy, given the widening range of players in the supply chain and their divergent interests and incentives”.
Our own case studies at Dovetail Software, in the world of Andocs Clarify™ systems and databases, reflect this same critical need for enterprise-wide integration.
One of our customers produces machinery used in manufacturing, and deployed throughout the world. The customer was using the Clarify ClearSupport module to handle service calls and manage their staff of Field Service Engineers who install, maintain, and repair this machinery. They used ClearLogistics to track their inventory of spare parts across inventory locations around the world. This operation embraced thousands of machines and spanned a dozen countries.
As modern management became more time-critical and complex, and pressures increased systemically, our customer was running into Clarify fat-client limitations. They determined that the application was slow and difficult to use over long distances, such as between North America and their branches in Japan, Korea, and Taiwan: users there experienced frequent loss of connection.
Our customer’s predicament was that their non-US offices couldn’t use locally purchased machines to run the Clarify fat client, because the foreign operating system was causing data corruption. The only solution before the Dovetail, web-based thin client was to install and configure US machines and ship them to the Asian offices.
The simple answer was deploying Dovetail CRM thin client, and being web-based this immediately cured the problem of remote access to centralized data. This was only the beginning, however. The company discovered, during this whole process of painlessly enhancing the reach and utility of their Clarify database, that they had a development path again. Using Dovetail Web Services on the .NET platform, the customer went on to integrate other, non-Clarify logistics applications to add to their ability to provide field engineering support.