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Enterprise application integration (EAI) and enter­prise portals may also play pivotal roles in e-business implementation projects. EAI can take the form of a product (middleware on steroids) or a service (e-busi­ness system integration) or a combination of both. En­terprise portals, Web sites acting as focal points for consolidating all varieties of enterprise system access, are likely to become a de facto standard across most in­dustries. Rather than requiring system users to physi­cally organize individual sets of access points (internal system menus, e-business partner connectivity, fre­quently accessed external URLs, etc.), the enterprise por­tal provides a logical and efficient navigational center. However, while the linking of disparate applications via a portal may give the appearance of system integration, actual cross-application integration is achievable through some sort of EAI.

Another factor affecting customer-facing application requirements is the new class of sales and marketing in­termediaries, the e-commerce market makers. Largely deployed through marketplace portals on the Internet, these companies represent new business opportunities in that their core competence sits on an e-commerce foun­dation. Without robust systems and networks, they can­not enter the market. For others—manufacturers and wholesalers—they may represent a lessened need for cus­tomer-centric e-business systems since they may envision these market makers as outsourced sales and marketing departments. Such companies still have a need for e-busi­ness enablement since their ERP systems must commu­nicate with the new marketplace portals electronically, but their systems requirements are more likely to be of a supply chain nature. Keep in mind that this does not have to be an either/or situation; a company can also opt to view these external marketplace portals as simply another sales channel.

Here are some of the more significant customer-fac­ing application areas:

e-Selling

 

A solution that enables companies to sell their prod­ucts and services over the Internet. To establish an In­ternet selling presence, the first step is setting up a virtual storefront and the company's product catalog on a Web site. Typical transactional features include quoting stan­dard prices, showing product availability information, providing self-service order entry, authorizing credit, presenting invoices, processing payments, and provid­ing order status information. Advanced features may include automated knowledge-based sales assistance, product substitution advice, up-sell and cross-sell prompting, shipping option alternatives, catalog person­alization, digital promotions, product configuration for complex products, and support for buying groups. Ease of use is the single biggest factor in providing the cus­tomer with an enjoyable shopping experience—an essen­tial for earning repeat business.

Customer Relationship Management—CRM

 

The objective of CRM is to create a more effective mar­keting relationship between the company and its cus­tomers. It is based on bi-directional communication facilitating proactive opportunity management, market­ing strategy, and customer care. Customer-specified pref-erences and feedback exchanges are used in the deployment of sales programs and marketing cam­paigns. CRM solutions often include formal call center management modules. Establishing a more formal link between company and customer, CRM readily supports trading partner agreements such as vendor managed in­ventory and collaborative planning, forecasting, and replenishment programs.

e-Sales Force Automation (e-SFA)

 

As a logical successor to SPA, E-SFA provides the tools and processes to optimize the efficiency and effective­ness of a company's direct sales force through Internet-enabled (also intranet and extranet) cross-functional communication and system integration. Typical features include calendar management, lead generation and tracking, sales prospect and customer contact manage­ment, sales effectiveness tracking, sales team coordina­tion, and telemarketing program support.

e-Customer Service

Web-enabled customer service applications greatly in­crease a company's ability to respond to customer in­quiries, complaints, and requests with higher efficiency and effectiveness than with traditional customer ser­vice departments that are 100 percent people-based. Customer interactions are integrated across multiple business functions and communication channels. Typi­cal features include customer complaint handling, problem resolution tracking, corrective action report­ing, self-service help desk inquiries (including an FAQ feature), and call center management. The more sophis­ticated systems provide the ability to define and moni­tor service-level agreements providing constructive relationship enhancing feedback. Many call center ap­plications support a blending of multiple communi­cation modes (such as voice, fax, e-mail, and Web site transactions) through a single mechanism.

Customer Predictive Modeling

 

Through the use of highly detailed data gathering coupled with concepts such as business intelligence and knowledge management, customer predictive modeling allows marketers to analyze customer behavior and pref­erences with far greater speed and accuracy than ever before. Profiling and personalization capabilities cap­ture and analyze buying patterns and automatically cus­tomize marketing content presentation by individual customer or market segment. Click stream analysis, a key component of such modeling, uses individual user site navigational movement to track and predict buyer characteristics for actions such as highly targeted pro­motional offerings and direct e-mail marketing cam­paigns. Far beyond basic demographic analysis, predictive modeling is one of the most powerful aspects of marketing automation.

e-Campaign Management

 

Electronic approach to the creation, rollout, and moni­toring of marketing campaigns. CRM and marketing automation applications, which include campaign man­agement modules, alleviate much of the laborious ef­fort required to establish marketing campaigns and track results. These systems provide the tools to admin­ister all campaign activities from identification of the targeted audiences through the return on investment analysis. Advertising, event scheduling and tracking, lit­erature distribution, follow-up administration, and the presentation of analysis reports and graphs are typical components. For maximum effectiveness, campaign management should be tightly integrated with SFA.

To Be Continued

For balance of this article, click on the below link:

Lean Manufacturing Articles and click on Series 12


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