Does Underlying Technology Matter?
This begins a series on down-to-earth criteria for selecting a CRM solution.
For any company, selecting a CRM solution for a company is a major undertaking. Gartner has just provided an in-depth guide for doing so entitled “Select the Best-Suited CRM Solution with Gartner’s Evaluation Model”.
Gartner’s guide is meant as a highly technical guide for an analyst, and we’ll be using it as a reference for this series of articles. But a point I made recently is that many times the wrong people—often a combination of executive and IT personnel—make decisions for which CRM system a company should adopt. This decision leaves out the people who will actually use it: salespeople. Using another field as an example, an architect would never be allowed to choose the tools that the builders are going to use to construct a house—that decision would be strictly up to the builders themselves. Similarly, I think salespeople should at least be included in the CRM selection process.
Hence, this series of articles is meant for the potential user and is a more down-to-earth guide for selecting a CRM solution.
The first category important for selection is Product. This category would include subcategories of Technology, Functionality, Usability, and Speed, which together would make up 55 percent of the decision-making process.
Let’s take up the first of these.
Many would say that the most important criterion for CRM selection is Functionality—and there I would disagree, and begin instead with Technology. Why? Because you can have great functionality, but if the underlying technology is not right, you can end up having to rebuild the whole app, and the functionality won’t make a bit of difference.
So let’s begin with technology, and place Architecture as the most important aspect of technology. This is very important because to take an example from another endeavor, you can only build the Burj Khalifa—the tallest building in the world, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates—once. It’s a massive undertaking, requiring digging deep into the ground just to sink the foundation. You can’t “remodel” it once it’s up,
We even changed the underlying database, moving from MySQL (which a lot of companies still use because it’s cheap and easy) to a more relational database structure.
Because we moved completely into the Cloud, we had to take into account customers who access Pipeliner from anywhere on the planet. We utilize Amazon Web Services and have 5 data centers throughout the world.
For over 30 years I’ve been a proponent of open source technology, even participating in a study on it for the Austrian Government when it was highly unpopular with the rest of the technical world. Today all that has changed—witness Microsoft’s purchase of open-source software development platform GitHub for $7.5 billion, and GitHub’s over 37 million users. We’re running an open-source operating system, Unbuntu, in the Cloud for Pipeliner CRM. Technology-based in open source makes the most of innovation. The open-source community is constantly programming different kinds of components. When you have the right architecture, you can take a component and embed it right into your application.
In my opinion, we have made some very smart decisions about the technology we are using, and are now truly poised to move into the future.
The next aspect of technology would be the Development Environment. If you don’t have the development environment totally right, you cannot scale, you cannot build the team, create the architecture and innovate new features.
Another vital consideration is Security and Privacy. We have all important security protocols in place, and in fact, are already (ahead of the US) GDPR-compliant. Any company using Pipeliner has no worries about security.
As you can see, technology has a significant impact on your CRM solution decision. Here are some important questions you should ask any vendor of any CRM solution you are considering:
1. If you have a small company with 50 users, and you’re looking to subscribe to a SaaS CRM application, you probably won’t care about the technology. It runs, so that’s good!
But if you’re a larger company, looking out over the longer term, you’re going to want to know that the technology being used in your CRM solution is sustainable. What is the technology underlying the CRM solution? Will it be around in the coming years? Or is it something that will become obsolete and have to completely remodeled?
2. What operating system is your possible CRM choice running on?
3. What Cloud service is your potential CRM solution provider using? (AWS, Microsoft, etc.)
4. What database systems are your possible CRM solution provider using?
5. What kind of APIs will they be providing you, so you can easily integrate your existing technology?
Make sure you take underlying technology into account as part of your CRM decision-making process.
We’ll be taking up the remaining important criteria as we move through this series of articles. Stay with us!