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Avid Technology's SAP CRM success

Avid Technology, an Academy Award-winning software company based in the U.S., upgraded mySAP CRM from 2.0C to 3.0 with customized options that help them close deals.

How do you know when a big CRM implementation is a success? When everything gets very, very quiet. At least that's how Trish Conley, director of applications information systems at Tewksbury, Mass.-based Avid Technology Inc. judged the success of a recent SAP CRM implementation and upgrade. Following the go-live, there were no complaints from end users, and that silence was precisely what Conley wanted to hear.

Avid, an SAP ERP R/3 customer since 1996, upgraded from SAP CRM 2.0C to 3.0 in recent months so that the company could take advantage of marketing modules with SAP's Market Planner and Segment Builder options. While no Avid professional was assigned to the project full-time, the company was able to hire a Rapidigm consultant, Srinivasa Katta, and Conley said that Avid would recommend Rapidigm to other SAP shops.

Despite the project's success, though, Avid's IT team did learn some disquieting lessons during the implementation process.

There was a six-week interruption due to data migration headaches caused by the creation and population of business partner queues. When the SAP Java connectivity objects (JCO) code was invoked, "it turned on all these queues," explained Chad Wright, Avid's applications manager.

"I think the roughest going was during the data loading,'' Conley recalled. "At some point, that was just taking much longer than we expected."

Avid Technology is a manufacturer of nonlinear editing equipment for the video and film industry, a company that won an Academy Award for its technological contributions to filmmaking. Its technical support center handles approximately 8,300 contacts per month.

Complicating the upgrade was the fact that Avid was one of the few, if not only, Informix database shops to upgrade to SAP CRM 3.0. For that reason, Avid was dealing with what was likely some alpha code. In the end, Avid received the support it needed from SAP, but the company did have to make some noise.

Finally, there was the telephony integration piece of the project. Avid needed a computer telephony integration (CTI) product that could provide a screen pop, allow for integration to Avid's SAP R/3 back-office system, and then route calls based on pre-defined business rules and scenarios.

When it began its recent SAP CRM upgrade, Avid had the benefit of having a legacy CRM system provided by Onyx.

One of the ways Avid wanted to customize its SAP CRM application was so that the system would recognize customers by the identification numbers assigned them. Most CRM implementations identify customers by their telephone numbers, and that didn't make sense at Avid, where plenty of customers have more than one product.

Avid also built into its new system a feature that automatically identifies the reseller who would benefit the most from a possible lead.

"One of the challenges we had in Onyx was the ability to send leads on to resellers," Wright said. Avid built into its CRM system a process that allows the company's director of inside sales to send select batches of leads to resellers.

"It's saving him hours and hours of work," Wright said.

Before making decisions surrounding the telephony integration project, Avid sent project manager Jonathan Thomas to SAP's annual U.S. user conference, Sapphire Orlando '02.

Based on the reconnaissance trip, Thomas chose AMC's Intelligent Routing offering because it allowed Avid the flexibility to write business rules to clearly define the routing of incoming calls.

The company installed AMC's Telephony Connector to integrate its Definity G3 phone switch and Avaya CentreVu CT with the SAP system.

"So a customer's system identification number comes through the 1-800 technician number," Thomas said. "It travels through Avaya and AMC. The call is routed back into SAP, where the number can be checked against a customer's service history, the details of their last call, a list of products they have purchased. Then the system routes the customer back to the first person who took the call, who has a pop-up screen with the information in front of them."

Although Thomas was well-versed in what he called "SAP-isms," the world of CTI has its own language and can be treacherous territory.

"Our main goal was to have technology we could wrap our arms around," Thomas said. "And we got it. It works for us."

Avid does not yet have a 360-degree view of its customers, something that some IT managers mistakenly assume is going to be provided after a CRM implementation.

Currently, the back-end R/3 system handles the transaction and fulfillment of customer orders. That means Avid field service representatives are not yet able to create a quote, or order, for the customer using a mobile sales laptop while they have the customer in front of them, or on the telephone. In order to provide that capability, SAP CRM Sales, which includes online and mobile capabilities, would need to be installed. Eventually, Conley said, the company hopes to implement that application


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To provide your feedback on this article, contact Ellen O'Brien.

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