NEW YORK: Companies such as NBC Universal, Groupon and Verizon are adopting new digital tools to enhance their customer relationship management capabilities.

Speaking to the Financial Times, Bill Ogle, Motorola Mobility's chief marketing officer, suggested the online revolution has undermined previous CRM models, but added that help is at hand.

"Sales and marketing campaigns haven't historically always been that easy to monitor or measure," Ogle stated.

"However, new tools - most noticeably salesforce automation and CRM - as well as search marketing measurement, together with the emergence of social network channels, have had a huge positive impact in terms of campaign return on investment."

Broadcaster NBC Universal is leveraging software from Salesforce that replicates cloud computing principles, delivering a central hub enabling all of its business units to access information.

"The problem with traditional sales and marketing apps was actually getting sales and marketing people to use them," Alex Dayon, Salesforce's executive vice president, CRM, said.

"That's because the apps were cumbersome and didn't always share data across departments, making it difficult for managers to have insight into business performance."

"Traditional sales and marketing apps were also incredibly expensive and difficult to install … With a cloud app, you just open a browser, log in and start using it."

John Sabino, NBC's senior vice president, commercial operations, argued Salesforce's system was received enthusiastically immediately after installation.

"Four weeks later, we had 75% user adoption. That is unheard of," he said. "It gives us a competitive advantage."

Communications giant Verizon's "Computing as a Service" platform has benefitted from similar technology created by SAP, allowing employees to view relevant data via PCs and handheld devices while on the move.

"Enterprises are truly changing the way they do business," said Kerry Bailey, group president, cloud strategy and services for Verizon.

"This is yet another step in our path to deliver 'everything-as-a-service' – a path that offers increased flexibility and better economics for our business and government clients."

Harris Products, the metal working specialist owned by Lincoln Electric, has utilised a further SAP system to establish a structured sales model.

Alongside constructing a database gathering together past and present buyer information, the organisation was able to simplify feedback processes and more rigorously interrogate existing statistics.

"We needed one complete version of the truth about our customers, as we couldn't manage what we couldn't measure," says Greg Langston, Harris Products' vice-president of sales.

"[This] changed the way our sales reps sell and we are collectively now more in control of revenue and forecasts."

"It is also helping us to focus on our customers, and invest in the aspects of the business that directly impact our success … It's all about results and accountability driven by superior information and process."

Groupon, the daily deals website, has adapted its approach upon learning some sales staff were often required to dedicate a quarter of their time to completing agreements.

"The normal process for our sales force across the UK and the world, was to get the Groupon contracts signed in person or follow the tedious process of scanning, mailing or posting the contract," Ash Mahmud, Groupon's UK head of CRM, said.

"It wasn't unusual for a rep to visit a client two or three times to negotiate all the details."

Groupon now deploys "electronic signature application" EchoSign, identified through an exchange containing various cloud computing apps, and currently takes around three hours to finalise the same procedures.

Data sourced from Financial Times; additional content by Warc staff