IT Articles : Data Integration and Data Management
If your company runs SAP or Oracle, integration with either of the platforms will be vital. This is where careful examination of a vendors credentials are important.
Some vendors in the marketing, notably Nordic based Streamserve have majored upon certified integration, particularly with SAP. Other companies such as Pitney Bowes Group 1 Software and HP Exstream Software have achieved integration.
But be wary of blanket statements of the type ‘yeah, we integrate with SAP and Siebel and Oracle’.
What is important to remember is that Customer Communications management is a multi-point solution. Whilst a company may have experience of integration with SAP, Oracle or Siebel, does this experience cover all aspects of the products?
Data integration and data management is perhaps one of the key components. The ability to extract, manage and transform data from these ERP and CRM systems is vital to the outbound communications process. Being able to easily and seamlessly draw and present data to document composition applications will make life much easier and will allow the development of a standard data model – which will save a great deal of money in terms of future document composition application development costs.
But it is not just the extraction of data that is significant. Proven connectivity for the document archive / vault may be critical in delivering benefits to customers service and finance areas of the business. Being able to link and view document applications within the likes of Siebel, SAP and Oracle will accelerate business processes and drive a strong business case for an investment in Customer Communications Management. Again, check the vendor organisations credentials in this area – much of the hard dollar business case could be lost if this element of the project fails.
Going a step further, the value of the information generated within the Automated Document Factory should be considered. The data generated by Automated Document Factory systems may well be very useful in managing organisational cost and accounting if it is easily made available to SAP, Oracle or other ERP applications. It may speed up the process of cost control, inter-departmental / inter-company accounting, giving the operation visibility and making it easier to understand return on investment from a marketing communications perspective.
In order to serve messages to the customer documents, remember that the Customer Communications Management platform may also benefit from integrating with the ERP/CRM application Enterprise Content Management (ECM) application as well. Check the vendor experience here.
In reality many vendors can probably do much of this but it is the experience that counts in reducing project risk. Make sure that you ask to speak with previous clients regarding the vendors experience and capability in this integration process and check the companies ability to support you should integration issues occur.
Customer Communications Management should not be an isolated business process but, there should be careful evaluation of the merits of integration and the likely benefits of different levels of integration with major line of business applications.
For more information concerning marketing communications and customer communications management, please visit Customer Communications Community.