A New Era of CRM Software: Why It's Time to Modernize
The concept of customer relationship management (CRM) is not a new phenomenon, but with today’s cutting-edge software companies continually raising the bar, it represents an increasingly critical tool for businesses.
CRM is a calculated strategy designed to help businesses improve their sales and marketing capabilities and better understand customers by linking data and tracking customer trends. Through this philosophy, companies aim to foster better business practices that encourage the exchange of information within an organization to support its efforts to nurture existing relationships and promote new ones.
The software side of CRM offers a lucrative path to achieving those goals by enabling businesses to organize and coordinate their sales efforts with the help of user-friendly tools. There are a number of programs available that can help today’s businesses to efficiently foster relationships with their clients, and Sage and NetSuite are two global industry-leaders that offer such invaluable CRM software solutions.
THE IMPORTANCE OF CRM
When implemented properly, CRM software satisfies the need of businesses that rely on efficient systems used to manage their processes effectively.
“Five percent of marketing and sales activities is inspiration, while 95 percent is perspiration. This means that, in order to effectively run a marketing or sales team, 95 percent of the work is spent in managing processes effectively. Having CRM software helps companies to track leads and opportunities, and to minimize the steps that will need to be executed in order to achieve their goals,” says Mike Lorge, Managing Director of Sage Business Solutions in Australia.
In order for companies to be able to make good business decisions, people within the organization need a system that allows the ability to access accurate and up-to-date customer information readily available at their fingertips. “Sage believes that a CRM system in the back office, when properly integrated with an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, allows a salesperson near limitless access to the tools of the trade, from checking the availability of inventory to placing an order,” Lorge asserts.
According to Chris Schafer, NetSuite’s Managing Director for APAC, “In order for a company to have the ability to move, adapt and retain its existing customers, it needs to establish a system of clean, precise and multiple touch-points with its place.”
Redmap uses its CRM software to the fullest extent in marketing to its customers, tracking consumer trends and more. “The CRM module gives Redmap greater insights into its customer interactions. We are doing more communications with our customers. Because NetSuite is “cradle-to-grave,” we can use it to do all of our campaigning and prospecting through to closure, orders, support desk — everything. Once we set up a prospect and give them a number, the system tracks it through the full life of the client,” explains Kurt Carlsen, Redmap Sales Director.
Chinese Firm Taigusys Launches Emotion-Recognition System
In a detailed investigative report, the Guardian reported that Chinese tech company Taigusys can now monitor facial expressions. The company claims that it can track fake smiles, chart genuine emotions, and help police curtail security threats. ‘Ordinary people here in China aren’t happy about this technology, but they have no choice. If the police say there have to be cameras in a community, people will just have to live with it’, said Chen Wei, company founder and chairman. ‘There’s always that demand, and we’re here to fulfil it’.
Who Will Use the Data?
As of right now, the emotion-recognition market is supposed to be worth US$36bn by 2023—which hints at rapid global adoption. Taigusys counts Huawei, China Mobile, China Unicom, and PetroChina among its 36 clients, but none of them has yet revealed if they’ve purchased the new AI. In addition, Taigusys will likely implement the technology in Chinese prisons, schools, and nursing homes.
It’s not likely that emotion-recognition AI will stay within the realm of private enterprise. President Xi Jinping has promoted ‘positive energy’ among citizens and intimated that negative expressions are no good for a healthy society. If the Chinese central government continues to gain control over private companies’ tech data, national officials could use emotional data for ideological purposes—and target ‘unhappy’ or ‘suspicious’ citizens.
How Does It Work?
Taigusys’s AI will track facial muscle movements, body motions, and other biometric data to infer how a person is feeling, collecting massive amounts of personal data for machine learning purposes. If an individual displays too much negative emotion, the platform can recommend him or her for what’s termed ‘emotional support’—and what may end up being much worse.
Can We Really Detect Human Emotions?
This is still up for debate, but many critics say no. Psychologists still debate whether human emotions can be separated into basic emotions such as fear, joy, and surprise across cultures or whether something more complex is at stake. Many claim that AI emotion-reading technology is not only unethical but inaccurate since facial expressions don’t necessarily indicate someone’s true emotional state.
In addition, Taigusys’s facial tracking system could promote racial bias. One of the company’s systems classes faces as ‘yellow, white, or black’; another distinguishes between Uyghur and Han Chinese; and sometimes, the technology picks up certain ethnic features better than others.
Is China the Only One?
Not a chance. Other countries have also tried to decode and use emotions. In 2007, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) launched a heavily contested training programme (SPOT) that taught airport personnel to monitor passengers for signs of stress, deception, and fear. But China as a nation rarely discusses bias, and as a result, its AI-based discrimination could be more dangerous.
‘That Chinese conceptions of race are going to be built into technology and exported to other parts of the world is troubling, particularly since there isn’t the kind of critical discourse [about racism and ethnicity in China] that we’re having in the United States’, said Shazeda Ahmed, an AI researcher at New York University (NYU).
Taigusys’s founder points out, on the other hand, that its system can help prevent tragic violence, citing a 2020 stabbing of 41 people in Guangxi Province. Yet top academics remain unconvinced. As Sandra Wachter, associate professor and senior research fellow at the University of Oxford’s Internet Institute, said: ‘[If this continues], we will see a clash with fundamental human rights, such as free expression and the right to privacy’.