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August 21, 2014

Proof of Concept - Crossing the point of Go-No-Go

In my last blog "Proof of Concept" - A key to Customer Relationship", I had discussed about the PoC that Infosys did for a European Telecom service provider and the various learning's and important take-away's from it.

For a quick recap, these are some of the key factors which should be considered for approaching a Proof of Concept in CRM space.    

1)     Approach - Defining the scope baseline.

2)     Scope - Implementing a strategic and robust solution at a very generic level.

3)     Solution - A "Proof of Concept" model to essentially possess following capabilities:

o    Robust Architecture

o    Adaptability  

o    Scalability

o    Added Benefits

4)     Ownership - Individual component experts, to be proactive in suggesting the right solution approach for the requirements that impacts their component.

5)     Delivery - To manage both "Deliverable" items and "Assessment" items.

6)     Resource skill sets - Benefit to have resources, having technical awareness on multiple applications.

7)     Estimation and Staffing plan - To account for adequate contingency efforts.

The detailed blog can be found at this location: 

Title: "Proof of Concept" - A key to Customer Relationship"


With this blog, I have tried highlighting some of the crucial parameters related to customer demo, documenting the artifacts and Infosys's PoC outcome.

1.     Customer Demo - Customer demo serves as a clearance window, the point of go-no go. All the aspects covered in the PoC, including, supporting business roadmap, factors that impacts managing customer relationship, system architecture planning, design, implementation and the solution outcome converges on to this particular point, called customer demo. These are some important points that needs to be taken care for a customer demo:

a)     Audience centric: Customer demo can happen more than once, attended by different type of audience, including, group of architects, sales team or business stakeholders. Different audience have different approach and expectations from the demo. Operation teams will approach a PoC demo from a process-impacts points of view, on the existing CRM or any other applications, while business stakeholders would be more interested in cost of actual implementation, future road-map of the products involved and business benefits that the new solution brings along. Hence, the demo content, approach, schedule and demo-length should be planned according to the audience attending it.

b)    Setting the context right: Always set the context first. A PoC is usually done to enhance or replicate existing systems, hence business teams already have a specific understanding of the existing business processes, customer data, in-life use cases etc. A demo is about showcasing specific set of functionality that may not utilize the complete set of existing processes or all the customer data. Hence, audience attending the demo should be aware of the approach and type of data that has been used in the solution. This helps in avoiding confusion and reduce the number of queries.

c)     Running the show smoothly: Customer demo should be in a smooth flow, to keep the audience engaged for the complete length of the demo. Any logistic issues needs to be taken care beforehand. Also give adequate time for the audience to understand the solution.

d)    Have backup plan ready: Always keep the backups ready. Screenshots, web recordings of the use-case solution or alternate test data should be in place, which can be used in case of some network or data issue encountered.

e)     Managing the issues: If a functionality does not work, the presenter or the team shouldn't panic. One should be able to explain the cause of issue and try to provide a point of view on the use case that was being showcased. This helps making customer and other audience comfortable. For ex. there can be an integration failure between a cloud CRM and an On-Premise application, due to network issues. Such situation can be handled by showcasing some flow or data representation on individual systems (a mock representation of the actual scenario).  

f)     Business specific queries: In every demo, one should be ready on business specific questions like future road-map of the products involved, overall solution fitting in customer's future business goals, what kind of best practices the new solution brings or what better one can suggest in the existing system/operational processes etc., apart from what has already been covered in the demo.

2.     Feedback - Take feedback from the customer but ensure asking only what customer can answer at that point. It's good to ask if everything what customer was expecting has been covered and if there is anything more which they would like to see or if they have any specific queries that has not been answered. The official and detailed feedback from the customer may come up after sometime via proper communication channel. It's always good to have a one to one casual note of thanks to specific business representatives, apart from collective thanks, at the end of the session. It helps, to a great extent, in building one-to-one professional relationship.

3.     Artifacts - Have a good documentation on the deliverable. It helps serving as a guide for others and can be referenced in future. Preserve the deliverable/code artifacts etc. so they can also be reused when the PoC transforms into a real project, at a later stage. Processes and solutions associated with Sales cycle, Customer Data management, Billing, Fulfillment, Inventory management etc. are more or less, similar across CRM space, irrespective of technologies on which they have been modeled. Hence, storing the solution model artifacts also helps in projecting them as a ready-made available solutions, by Infosys, for addressing similar business problems for different customers.

4.     PoC Outcome - For the PoC that was delivered, customer was impressed with the approach, planning and execution strategy of Infosys. The specific success criteria's that customer was looking for, were met. The most important use case that involved developing a flexible solution which encompasses integrated mechanism between Cloud and On-premise applications and exchanging of the customer data, between them, was achieved. This helped in building customer confidence and take the engagement to the next stage.

The key parameters, as explained in these blogs, played important role and helped meeting customer expectations by delivering a successful Proof-of-Concept solution.

Hence, with these two series of blogs we have seen different points which are key for approaching and delivering a successful "Proof of Concept". It's not the destination but a crucial stepping stone to take the client engagement to the next level.

I would like to end it with the same quote: "A small step of PoC, a giant leap for the Customer Relationship".



August 8, 2014

Integrated CPQ - Must have for your sales team

In my journey of work in CRM space for the past few days, I had opportunity to participate and learn about relatively new area commonly referred to as CPQ i.e. (Configuration, Pricing & Quote). It's not that these functional areas was not present earlier or not known to the world, all the leading CRM packages used to offer these functions inbuilt in some form or the other. Of course each CRM package had its own strength and weakness in these areas and their offering, which probably gave opportunity to specialized tools like Big Machines, Apttus, Selectica,cameleon among other to gain momentum and redefine this space. 

Continue reading "Integrated CPQ - Must have for your sales team" »

June 18, 2014

"Proof of Concept" - A key to Customer Relationship

A Proof of concept is used in order to demonstrate the feasibility of a certain idea or a method. It's a demonstration, the purpose of which is to verify that certain concepts or theories have the potential to transform or evolve into a real-world application. Hence, PoC is a prototype that is designed to determine feasibility, but not the deliverable. A Proof of concept is also known as proof of principle.

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June 11, 2014

Can Analytics add substance to marketing reports? - Part 2

Read Part 1 here.

In the previous blog, we have discussed about the common examples to show how use of advanced analytics help create marketing reports and provide better forecast and trends to customers. In this part, we will discuss in detail about the three key areas which we have identified as primary areas of innovation by use of analytics tools.

1. Industry trends and financials: An effective report must capture the industry trends and growth potentials. Analyst reports and predictions from Gartner, Forrester, IDC, and Reuters should be used to derive trend charts, analytics charts, visuals and dashboards. These can give a subject oriented dimensional model to the predictions, and can reflect a 360 degree-view of portfolio, performance and risk in business opportunities.

Continue reading "Can Analytics add substance to marketing reports? - Part 2" »

Can Analytics add substance to marketing reports? - Part 1

We are in an age where social media captures humongous data about the probable customer base for any product or service. Look at Facebook for example. You post a photo and mention where it is taken, say "at Burj Khalifa, Dubai", the Facebook page for that place will immediately increase the count of visitors for that place (e.g. the "Burj Khalifa" place will show "200209 people have been here" instead of previous "200208 people have been here").

Continue reading "Can Analytics add substance to marketing reports? - Part 1" »

May 29, 2014

Salesforce1 Service Cloud SOS

Last week I was preparing for my Service Cloud certification and came across a new feature which once again takes Salesforce suite, up and right on the Gartner's Magic Quadrant for the CRM Customer Engagement Center. It is called Salesforce1 Service Cloud SOS or Service SOS in short.

Some of us would know what a rage, a similar offering from Amazon called Mayday had created when it was launched for Kindle Fire. Imagine a service which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year for free. Throughout the session, you are be able to see your Amazon Technical support agent live on your screen, but they won't be able to see you. They can guide you through any feature on your Kindle Fire by drawing on your screen, walking you through how to do something for yourself, or doing it for you. That's service at its best.

Reading further on it, I realized a few other applications have a similar feature. Like Showkit on iOS device which has the same functionality of contacting the service agents but by scheduling a call and not available all the time. The biggest challenge however, for any company is not the use of this technology but the operational setup required. Availability of such a feature in today's highly responsive business environment is definitely a plus but evaluating the need and justifying the cost involved would be the key criteria. Response time to connect, peak/non-peak hours, holiday season, training, workforce management etc. are a just a few amongst the many aspects which needs to be considered.

Salesforce names several companies that were already using its Service Cloud products, such as Cars.com, Inspirato with American Express, Philips and Stanley Black & Decker, who are testing out the SOS button now. Pricing for SOS has not been finalized. A beta is planned for June with a general availability launch early next year.

Although this topic was not covered in the CertificationJ, with every release Salesforce comes up with new features and add-ons and hence we as consultants need to constantly read and update ourselves for offering the best solution to the customer.

May 1, 2014

Spear Phishing - BYOD at Risk

 By Alpesh Chauhan, CRM Lead Consultant, Oracle Practice, Manufacturing Unit, Infosys


I received an email on my official id from a colleague's id, asking me to check details in the attachment to find useful information related to the solution that I have been working recently. I was bit surprised as my colleague was no longer working on that solution. Email appeared to be from company's official id but something was wrong. I called him and was surprised to find that he didn't send that email. I have been target of Spear Phishing attack!!!


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April 21, 2014

Impact of MPOS on CRM

Last month group of my friends visited a rain forest themed store. They were greeted by a store rep who was apparently well equipped to answer all their queries - merchandise pricing, recommending best buy, invoicing, well almost everything! My friends purchased goods while enjoying experience of a life time - not being forced to stand in long queues, wait for the cashier or carry goods back and forth for price checks, comparisons etc. The question which perplexed everyone was how could the store rep quickly respond with pricing updates, recommend add-ons which suited the group and suggest customer centric promotions and offers?

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Advantages of a Catalog driven architecture for Telcos

The acquisitions and consolidation in the Telecom industry have left the CSP's with fragmented systems resulting in lower enterprise agility, poor operational efficiency and customer experience. One of the impacts of the consolidation is the number of variations of products that the Telco ends up with. These product definitions are normally static, siloed and duplicated in various systems. As a result, the sales, marketing and service processes that consume these products end up being confusing and inefficient resulting in overall competitive disadvantage. In this blog, I will talk about how a 'Catalog driven' approach to product management can help address this issue.

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April 12, 2014

"AIM" for successful Cloud CRM implementations...

The CRM space has been undergoing major transformation through more and more customers moving towards cloud based CRM. Some of the cloud CRM players like Salesforce.com are constantly innovating and improving their features through three releases in one year. We should be open to explore and build a robust delivery methodology which should be Scrum based (agile), iterative and focus on speed of delivery without compromising the quality. This is not only an operational change, but should be a cultural change in how we would be executing projects going forward. AIM can be used for Salesforce.com, MSCRM and other CRM packages where the customer experience and time to market is the key for the success of the engagement.





Continue reading ""AIM" for successful Cloud CRM implementations..." »