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To Be or Not to Be (in the system)

I have too much media spread out over too many locations. I can’t fit my 2000+ CDs on my iPod or my laptop. In fact, I can’t even fit them in my CD storage racks any longer. So, my music is spread over three floors of my house, two hard drives, multiple formats, and in some cases, relegated to dusty boxes deep in my basement. I have the same problem with my photos. Thousands are in 35 mm slide trays waiting to be scanned. More recent digital or digitized images are tucked away on CDs or DVDs or on hard drives in slide shows or as unsorted collections. And now I have run out of space on my Flicker account and have had to move over to Shutterfly to continue with image sharing. Finding music and photos has become somewhat of a time consuming endeavor. You would think I would have done better with this given my occupation.

This is self inflicted time wasting, mostly due to the inability to spend the time or money in the needed media organizational tools. But I do at least try to keep this from happening with my clients when it comes to managing their customer data assets.

Choices

For example, There are times when I am working with organizations in the life sciences industries who ponder the idea of excluding KOL management within the CRM system, moving these customers elsewhere. And, there are also times when a similar question arises as to whether the Medical Science Liaisons (and other similarly named roles) should be using the CRM system along with their sales counterparts. It is baffling to me that these questions even arise, but they do. I blame this, at least partially, on the software industry, because KOL management tools and other CRM revisions designed for MSLs are pushed onto unsuspecting medical industry buyers as indispensible solutions.

Here is the problem. Most companies today who adopt CRM also cherish the idea of the 360 degree view of the customer – the holy grail of having all customer interactions captured in one location for the greatest potential to achieve customer intelligence. However, when we push KOLs into another data location or push MSLs into a specialized system, we limit or complicate the whole 360 degree thing. We turn a blind eye to a portion of our customers (really important ones, by the way) or a portion of our customer interactions.

This is a mistake. Sales professionals and MSLs can work side-by-side within the same CRM system productively and in compliance with regulatory requirements. KOL interactions can be managed just as effectively within most CRM systems as they can with the KOL tools being promoted today. Why would you want to intentionally make it hard to foster collaboration and drive analysis? Some think it is required for data security and compliance, but this is a fallacy. Partitioning data, setting appropriate policy on the location of data capture, and using role-based access rights all combine to keep the right data in the right hands.

If you are considering the idea of a special tool for your medical liaisons or for their management of KOL data, I really encourage you to talk to others who have kept this all within the same system, but use appropriate techniques for operating in compliance. They will convince you to keep everything and everyone together.

Take a lesson from the early CRM adopters. Many of these organizations allowed CRM to evolve across the enterprise without a guiding, integrated CRM strategy. Service functions ended up on Siebel or RightNow. Marketing functions ended up on Unica or Eloqua. Sales functions ended up on Salesforce.com or Oracle On Demand. Many of my clients who are in this situation are now spending big bucks to bring all these functions together either through expensive integration programs or the consolidation of all users onto a single platform, which is also mighty expensive. You will join them if you banish your MSLs to a separate tool – eventually wishing you had all users and customer data in one place.

So, follow my advice, but not my behavior, and keep your customer-facing functions and customer data together. Now, does anybody know where my Johnny Mathis Christmas CD is possibly hiding?

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