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Security updates, business-process improvements, and boosting worker productivity top IT executives' to-do lists this year.

Helen D'Antoni

January 7, 2005

3 Min Read

Security updates, business-process improvements, and boosting worker productivity top IT executives' to-do lists this year. Expect demand for customer-relationship-management software to be strong, too.

Customer Focus, pie chartFour out of five business-technology managers interviewed for InformationWeek Research's Outlook for 2005 survey say providing better customer service is a key business priority for their IT divisions. Asking IT to improve customer service is a universal objective for companies of all sizes, too. Three of four sites with annual revenue of less than $100 million, 84% of midsize firms, and 76% of businesses with revenue of $1 billion or more expect IT to support, implement, and improve existing CRM processes in 2005, according to the study, the cornerstone of our Priorities series, which examines spending plans and objectives of 300 executives responsible for IT budgeting processes or purchases.

Forrester Research predicts that 21% of North American companies will purchase CRM software by year's end. But IT workers won't just roll out new applications to better serve customers. Granting access to CRM systems in this age of identity theft is a sensitive topic. To provide better service while protecting customer information, IT shops will need to upgrade access to CRM data for various stakeholders and constituent groups. To exploit sales opportunities further, IT workers might even go so far as to monitor online traffic, provide real-time response automation, and oversee multisite activity surveillance of existing online components.

IT workers also will have to ready themselves for potential problems, including integrating CRM and legacy systems, centralizing scattered legacy data sources while optimizing system performance, and achieving connectivity across the company and with satellite branches and home offices.

What's your company doing to improve customer service in 2005? Share your strategies with us.

Helen D'Antoni
Senior Editor, Research
[email protected]

Closer Ties, bar chart
Closer Ties
Do your IT group's key business priorities include increased collaboration with customers?

Companies are asking IT to develop procedures that allow more exchange of information with customers. Of the 300 sites surveyed by InformationWeek Research, 73% of small, 68% of midsize, and 59% of large companies report key business priorities for IT include increased collaboration with customers.

Data Sorting, bar chartData Sorting
Will your IT department implement or support the organization and use of customer data in 2005?

IT personnel will delve deeply into data management in 2005. Company tech departments are expected to implement and support the organization and use of customer information, according to the findings in our study. In fact, two-thirds of small companies, three-quarters of midsize sites, and seven in 10 large companies we interviewed expect IT to make it easier for company personnel to access customer records in 2005.

Tech Provisions, bar chartTech Provisions
Which technologies and products are on your IT organization's planned-projects list for 2005?

Devising access controls and classifying customer data aren't the only major CRM initiatives IT shops face in the new year. Project lists include data-analysis tools, content-management systems, knowledge-management software, and data-center-utilization hardware. These are expected to tie up IT shops and third-party service providers that specialize in this type of integration and deployment work.

Sales Help, bar chartSales Help
Is sales-force automation on your IT department's planned-projects list for 2005?

IT is in a position to smooth the flow of data both inside a company and beyond it. Consider IT's role in dealings between sales representatives and business accounts. One way companies seek to solidify these relationships is by automating functions such as inventory replenishment and sales-meeting reminders. Thirty-nine percent of small sites, 31% of midsize businesses, and 43% of large companies say sales-force automation is on their IT organizations' planned-projects lists for 2005.

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