24
Mon, Jun
3 New Articles

Put Your IBM i to Work in the Front Office as Well as the Back

Customer Relationship Management
Typography
  • Smaller Small Medium Big Bigger
  • Default Helvetica Segoe Georgia Times

With Infor's New CRM i Edition, users can have an integrated view of both customer and financial data, all from a Web browser.

 

While it seems that doubt about the IBM i platform permeates every conversation regarding the future of the IBM midrange platform, there is one company that continues to believe in the platform from both a technical as well as a business standpoint, and I'm not referring to IBM.

 

One could argue that with its roots in the MAPICS ERP package, Infor Global Solutions may be more concerned about IBM i midrange customers than is IBM itself. IBM i customers may represent a larger percentage of Infor's total customer base than they do for IBM. Infor has about 70,000 customers worldwide and, a couple years ago, reported its IBM i customers represented about 25 percent of that, or better than 17,000. Today, that number is reportedly around 14,000, which would represent about 20 percent of its customer base. Rumor has it that IBM's i customers have declined as well but are still substantially well above 100,000 (perhaps as high as 200,000). But who knows how many customers IBM has? In any case, while some people feel that IBM is scaling back its support of the i community, it's clear that Infor is working hard to retain its customers on i and might be viewed as a leader in pushing the platform forward technically.

 

The company recently announced the availability of a CRM solution specifically for companies on the i platform: Infor CRM i Edition. The Infor CRM solution is no bush-league product, having been a leader among the ISM, Inc. Top 15 CRM Enterprise Software Award recipients for the past few years running. The solution is at the edge of a trend toward integrating marketing and sales across all inbound and outbound channels. Using technology to leverage marketing, sales, and service to increase revenues is seen as a way to offset the squeeze in the economy as well as stay ahead of the competition. Since the technology exists to streamline the sales process and enhance opportunity capabilities, if your competition is going there, you pretty much have to be there too.

 

CRM today is a rapidly evolving field where the trends seem to include a greater integration with social media applications, increased availability of social-media-type functionality, an increased use of business intelligence tools within CRM solutions, an increased number of mobile CRM offerings, and a greater reliance on the SaaS model for on-demand CRM solutions.

 

Infor CRM i Edition is a new solution that provides enhanced customer relationship management for users of Infor's ERP products. It provides users with a single, integrated view of customer-related information such as credit limits, financial transactions, orders, quotes, shipments, and more, according to the company.

 

"Infor CRM i Edition helps our System i customers leverage their ERP data with new capabilities that will help them increase sales revenue, reduce sales costs, expand data visibility, enhance forecast accuracy, and improve customer service," says Kevin Piotrowski, director of System i solution marketing at Infor.

 

Infor is so committed to the i community that it recently established a business unit dedicated to its worldwide base of IBM i customers. It used its Infor Development Framework (IDF) for System i to help develop Infor CRM i Edition. The IDF is a development tool and series of design blueprints for building IBM i applications. Accessible via a Web browser interface, the CRM i Edition can be easily configured to provide the type of information that supports a company's individual business and to allow data access to different levels of users based on roles.

 

One of the most common uses of CRM software is campaign management, in which users leverage CRM and ERP data to target subsets of a company's customers with offers that are tailored to specific wants and needs. The solution supports the use of mass email, telesales call lists, and mail merge. It also supports managing marketing events, such as invitations, response tracking, and post-event surveys. Other uses for CRM software include opportunity management, useful for, say, complex sales cycles or situations in which a company sells a broad range of products and has thousands of customers. Other uses are in sales process management, quotation management, and order management.

 

The software offers users a single place to access all information about customers, prospects, and contacts through a "customer information portal" that is not for customers but rather about customers. The portal provides a single point for information typically found in both a CRM solution as well as that typically retrieved from an ERP solution, such as credit limits, financial transactions, orders, quotes, and shipments.

 

In a challenging economy, users are looking for CRM software to increase sales revenue by helping their staffs close more sales, increase the conversion rate of quote-to-orders, and reduce the occurrence of discounts while at the same time increasing repeat business. If identifying those less likely to buy in order to direct your attention more toward those who are ready prospects translates into a way to reduce costs, then CRM software can pay for itself in a relatively short period of time. Now your IBM i is not only handling the backend of the business but helping out at the front as well.

Chris Smith

Chris Smith was the Senior News Editor at MC Press Online from 2007 to 2012 and was responsible for the news content on the company's Web site. Chris has been writing about the IBM midrange industry since 1992 when he signed on with Duke Communications as West Coast Editor of News 3X/400. With a bachelor's from the University of California at Berkeley, where he majored in English and minored in Journalism, and a master's in Journalism from the University of Colorado, Boulder, Chris later studied computer programming and AS/400 operations at Long Beach City College. An award-winning writer with two Maggie Awards, four business books, and a collection of poetry to his credit, Chris began his newspaper career as a reporter in northern California, later worked as night city editor for the Rocky Mountain News in Denver, and went on to edit a national cable television trade magazine. He was Communications Manager for McDonnell Douglas Corp. in Long Beach, Calif., before it merged with Boeing, and oversaw implementation of the company's first IBM desktop publishing system there. An editor for MC Press Online since 2007, Chris has authored some 300 articles on a broad range of topics surrounding the IBM midrange platform that have appeared in the company's eight industry-leading newsletters. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

BLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS

LATEST COMMENTS

Support MC Press Online

$0.00 Raised:
$

Book Reviews

Resource Center

  • SB Profound WC 5536 Have you been wondering about Node.js? Our free Node.js Webinar Series takes you from total beginner to creating a fully-functional IBM i Node.js business application. You can find Part 1 here. In Part 2 of our free Node.js Webinar Series, Brian May teaches you the different tooling options available for writing code, debugging, and using Git for version control. Brian will briefly discuss the different tools available, and demonstrate his preferred setup for Node development on IBM i or any platform. Attend this webinar to learn:

  • SB Profound WP 5539More than ever, there is a demand for IT to deliver innovation. Your IBM i has been an essential part of your business operations for years. However, your organization may struggle to maintain the current system and implement new projects. The thousands of customers we've worked with and surveyed state that expectations regarding the digital footprint and vision of the company are not aligned with the current IT environment.

  • SB HelpSystems ROBOT Generic IBM announced the E1080 servers using the latest Power10 processor in September 2021. The most powerful processor from IBM to date, Power10 is designed to handle the demands of doing business in today’s high-tech atmosphere, including running cloud applications, supporting big data, and managing AI workloads. But what does Power10 mean for your data center? In this recorded webinar, IBMers Dan Sundt and Dylan Boday join IBM Power Champion Tom Huntington for a discussion on why Power10 technology is the right strategic investment if you run IBM i, AIX, or Linux. In this action-packed hour, Tom will share trends from the IBM i and AIX user communities while Dan and Dylan dive into the tech specs for key hardware, including:

  • Magic MarkTRY the one package that solves all your document design and printing challenges on all your platforms. Produce bar code labels, electronic forms, ad hoc reports, and RFID tags – without programming! MarkMagic is the only document design and print solution that combines report writing, WYSIWYG label and forms design, and conditional printing in one integrated product. Make sure your data survives when catastrophe hits. Request your trial now!  Request Now.

  • SB HelpSystems ROBOT GenericForms of ransomware has been around for over 30 years, and with more and more organizations suffering attacks each year, it continues to endure. What has made ransomware such a durable threat and what is the best way to combat it? In order to prevent ransomware, organizations must first understand how it works.

  • SB HelpSystems ROBOT GenericIT security is a top priority for businesses around the world, but most IBM i pros don’t know where to begin—and most cybersecurity experts don’t know IBM i. In this session, Robin Tatam explores the business impact of lax IBM i security, the top vulnerabilities putting IBM i at risk, and the steps you can take to protect your organization. If you’re looking to avoid unexpected downtime or corrupted data, you don’t want to miss this session.

  • SB HelpSystems ROBOT GenericCan you trust all of your users all of the time? A typical end user receives 16 malicious emails each month, but only 17 percent of these phishing campaigns are reported to IT. Once an attack is underway, most organizations won’t discover the breach until six months later. A staggering amount of damage can occur in that time. Despite these risks, 93 percent of organizations are leaving their IBM i systems vulnerable to cybercrime. In this on-demand webinar, IBM i security experts Robin Tatam and Sandi Moore will reveal:

  • FORTRA Disaster protection is vital to every business. Yet, it often consists of patched together procedures that are prone to error. From automatic backups to data encryption to media management, Robot automates the routine (yet often complex) tasks of iSeries backup and recovery, saving you time and money and making the process safer and more reliable. Automate your backups with the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution. Key features include:

  • FORTRAManaging messages on your IBM i can be more than a full-time job if you have to do it manually. Messages need a response and resources must be monitored—often over multiple systems and across platforms. How can you be sure you won’t miss important system events? Automate your message center with the Robot Message Management Solution. Key features include:

  • FORTRAThe thought of printing, distributing, and storing iSeries reports manually may reduce you to tears. Paper and labor costs associated with report generation can spiral out of control. Mountains of paper threaten to swamp your files. Robot automates report bursting, distribution, bundling, and archiving, and offers secure, selective online report viewing. Manage your reports with the Robot Report Management Solution. Key features include:

  • FORTRAFor over 30 years, Robot has been a leader in systems management for IBM i. With batch job creation and scheduling at its core, the Robot Job Scheduling Solution reduces the opportunity for human error and helps you maintain service levels, automating even the biggest, most complex runbooks. Manage your job schedule with the Robot Job Scheduling Solution. Key features include:

  • LANSA Business users want new applications now. Market and regulatory pressures require faster application updates and delivery into production. Your IBM i developers may be approaching retirement, and you see no sure way to fill their positions with experienced developers. In addition, you may be caught between maintaining your existing applications and the uncertainty of moving to something new.

  • LANSAWhen it comes to creating your business applications, there are hundreds of coding platforms and programming languages to choose from. These options range from very complex traditional programming languages to Low-Code platforms where sometimes no traditional coding experience is needed. Download our whitepaper, The Power of Writing Code in a Low-Code Solution, and:

  • LANSASupply Chain is becoming increasingly complex and unpredictable. From raw materials for manufacturing to food supply chains, the journey from source to production to delivery to consumers is marred with inefficiencies, manual processes, shortages, recalls, counterfeits, and scandals. In this webinar, we discuss how:

  • The MC Resource Centers bring you the widest selection of white papers, trial software, and on-demand webcasts for you to choose from. >> Review the list of White Papers, Trial Software or On-Demand Webcast at the MC Press Resource Center. >> Add the items to yru Cart and complet he checkout process and submit

  • Profound Logic Have you been wondering about Node.js? Our free Node.js Webinar Series takes you from total beginner to creating a fully-functional IBM i Node.js business application.

  • SB Profound WC 5536Join us for this hour-long webcast that will explore:

  • Fortra IT managers hoping to find new IBM i talent are discovering that the pool of experienced RPG programmers and operators or administrators with intimate knowledge of the operating system and the applications that run on it is small. This begs the question: How will you manage the platform that supports such a big part of your business? This guide offers strategies and software suggestions to help you plan IT staffing and resources and smooth the transition after your AS/400 talent retires. Read on to learn: