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The IT and Marketing industries are good at riding waves of hype: Customer Relationship Management (a.k.a CRM) has been making a few firms some mega-bucks in the last few years.

Have you ever tried to phone a company to make a complaint; when you ring them you get through to the wrong department - they ask you to ring somebody else, and she tells you to email somebody else. A simple complaint can take hours because each department is a kingdom unto itself - the company can not co-ordinate itself.

Dealing with most big companies can be a real nightmare. That's bad for companies as well as you because keeping all those call-center people jabbering costs money.

The idea of CRM is simple: Companies might be more profitable if all the contacts a customer can have with the company are co-ordinated. If technology or common-sense marketing thinking could make big companies a little less insane then surely that would be a Good Thing?

The implementation tends to be complicated - all corporate systems that have anything vaguely to do with the customer user must be linked together.

Everything means: Call-centres, Finance Departments, Mail Rooms, Web Systems... whatever you can think of, if it affects customers then it's got to be connected into the CRM system.

Ironically, the companies that have benefited most from the installation of CRM systems are not the companies that use them: CRM usually means huge databases, vast layers of middleware. CRM is a goldmine for IT and Marketing consultancy firms.

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