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Acer America
Acer America Corp. is a computer manufacturer of business and consumer PCs, notebooks, ultrabooks, projectors, servers, and storage products.


333 West San Carlos Street
San Jose, California 95110
United States


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News & Articles

January 8, 2010 |

Do You Provide the Means for Innovation?

SMBs will need to remain innovative as economic challenges persist. CRM solutions and other technology offerings can help them. By Jason Rushforth

Do You Provide the Means for Innovation?

SMBs will need to remain innovative as economic challenges persist. CRM solutions and other technology offerings can help them.

By Jason Rushforth

As SMBs struggle to do more with less, innovation has become a critical factor in business success. Organizations must innovate not only to improve efficiency and productivity, but also to differentiate their company and create a competitive advantage.

Do You Provide the Means for Innovation?

A company’s technology tools and systems can become either great facilitators of innovation–or great impediments. It is thus important for companies that want to be ongoing innovators to recognize several key attributes that make technologies and applications more amenable to supporting innovation:

  • Quick Implementation–No matter how impressive a technology pro mises to be, years spent implementing it will rob an organization of the opportunity to innovate.
  • Customizability and Flexibility–Cookie-cutter applications that force a business to conform to the application’s specifications, rather than the other way around, can foil a company’s attempts to innovate and differentiate, because they may constrain or dictate the manner in which data or business processes can be managed.
  • Interoperability and Ease of Integration–For technology to promote innovation, it needs to integrate easily with other technologies and build upon them. Proprietary languages and impediments to integration stifle the creative process and detract from innovation.
  • Adaptability–Technology that enables innovation must be able to change and evolve. Truly innovative technologies support an iterative approach to problem-solving.

Customer-Centric Technology
Innovation and differentiation can take place on many different fronts within an organization, and there are thus many different approaches to fostering innovation.† Do You Provide the Means for Innovation?

In recent years, the idea of a customer-centric approach to innovation has gained many proponents. By developing a strong focus on customers, companies can gain insight into the needs and preferences of their valued customers and find innovative ways to serve them better.

As the technology that supports these organizational functions, a customer relationship management (CRM) solution can play an important role in helping an organization create and implement customer-centric innovations.

Indeed, Customer relationship management software is one of the most valuable technologies to effect business change and spur innovation. In addition to helping organizations more effectively identify and meet the needs of their customers, CRM directly impacts business results by increasing efficiency, improving focus, and streamlining customer-facing operations.

Not all CRM systems are created equal when it comes to supporting innovation. There are two major interrelated focal points for innovation with CRM:

  • Innovation and the Customer Experience–Organizations that concentrate on the customer experience offer special value to customers and deliver a hard-to-imitate advantage over competitors. This is especially true in industries where commoditization has become a major issue, such as in the financial services arena.
    If an industry is well established and customers view the products or services as too similar, differentiation becomes a challenge. Innovative companies realize that CRM can help add that “something more” that attracts new customers and keeps older customers satisfied and loyal-perhaps with a new method of delivery, a more personalized service, or more tailored product features.
  • Innovation and the User Experience–CRM systems that are too cumbersome or laborious to use are frequently abandoned before they can show a return on investment. In contrast, innovative CRM systems allow companies to deliver not just the unique customer experience they desire, but the unique user experience required to deliver it as well.
    As companies devise innovative new products and ways of serving customers, these advances must be reflected in and supported by the CRM system. Highly flexible and customizable CRM workflow capabilities offer a tremendous advantage in this area. The right CRM tool will enable a company to model any new business process or need within the application, no matter how complex or innovative.

Innovation has become a business imperative. It’s a necessity for today’s organizations to differentiate and compete. But innovation can be a tall order, requiring both a culture of innovation and the technology to support it.

As the technology systems most fundamentally involved in customer-facing functions, customer relationship management solutions can make or break a company’s efforts to introduce innovation. The right CRM system for a company that strives to be a true innovator must embody the key attributes of innovation-friendly technology: the ability to be implemented, customized, integrated, and adapted quickly and easily, and the fundamental flexibility to support unique and new approaches to the customer and user experience.

JASON RUSHFORTH is senior vice president of CDC Software. This story is an edited exerpt of his white paper, The Technology of Innovation: Using CRM to Enable Customer-Centric Innovation.

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