ASP.NET: Embrace New Technology Without Overhauling Your IT Department
Just recently, we were approached by a regional marketing firm in New England with a rather unique, but solvable problem for one of their clients, a global manufacturer of high-end, specialized technology components. The manufacturing firm is a very successful, multi-million dollar company with a huge marketing budget and a rather aggressive sales team. The problem, however, is that they have a hard time tying return on investment (ROI) to any specific efforts, though they all seem to be fruitful.
Sounds like a marketing-metrics problem, right? Well, maybe. As the marketing firm peeled back the layers of this manufacturing onion, they quickly realized that there were problems with process and technology. The marketing team does a very good job generating leads that go into their Cutomer Retention Management (CRM) system and the sales team does a good job of contacting the leads and processing them through to sales orders. The challenge lies in their ability to communicate with leads outside of the sales funnel.
They studied the CRM and found some woefully inadequate technology that was not capable of following a lead through the sales cycle, let alone provide actionable reports. Because their CRM is a desktop application, and the data is stored on-site, their outside sales force, working remotely, is not even able to access it. So, why not just replace their CRM with an off-the-shelf cloud computing system like SalesForce or Zoho? That would solve the problem, right? Well, not quite. The existing CRM is a home-grown, desktop application that is intented to integrate with the manufacturing company's Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software. This is the software that the production team, accounting team, and others use to manage the manufacturing process.
Actually, it goes deeper. When the original ERP license expired many years ago, the company realized that they could build their own system that would tie into the Sequel (SQL) database that the original ERP was built on. So, they constructed their own, and now use a combination of all 3 systems to manage their sales, marketing, and operations processes. So, they are stuck right?
Why not just ask the IT department to rebuild the CRM to meet the current needs of the sales and marketing program? I'll let you answer that obvious question on your own. What about having an outside firm build another desktop application that would meet those needs? Lets explore that for a second.
The manufacturing company may have stumbled onto a possible solution, back when they built their replacement ERP. They realized that they could tap into the same SQL data using a new desktop application. Great idea. But, they did not consider using a web application to do it. Using a web application would allow the data to be accessed from any browser, anywhere in the world (great for those external sales folks), and would allow for software updates to be controlled in one place.
Using ASP.net, a specialty of ours, they could develop a new CRM web application (or any part of their software for that matter) that would be engineered specifically to meet the needs of the marketing and sales teams, but would utilize the existing data in their SQL database. In fact, it could be built in tandem with the existing software, so there is no downtime for anyone. Training could take place using simulated data, processes could be sharpened, and the technology itself would be scaleable and upgradable forever.
Using ASP.net we solve business processes like these every day. Does your overworked, understaffed IT department have the capacity for a solution like this? Ask yourself that question, then give us a call.