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 Chuck UAE CRM and Customer Experience Management Excels

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 By Alison Diana

UAE Businesses Focus on Customers with Customer Relationship Management Solutions

Businesses in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are using software technology to enhance customer communications and service, investing extensively in customer relationship management (CRM) software solutions designed to squeeze out unnecessary, inefficient or duplicate business processes and expenses, and give them more actionable visibility into company operations and customer opportunities.

In the wake of the global economic crisis, the Middle East region's many thriving industries -- including call centers, hospitality, construction, property management, defense and security, food and drink, freight transport, infrastructure, oil and gas, pharmaceuticals, public sector, and healthcare and IT -- each are looking to cut costs while simultaneously growing market share and revenue, in part by enhanced customer relationships. A key enabler: CRM software technologies from local and international providers.

As a result, Customer Relationship Management software spending in the entire Middle East is expected to grow 30% this year, according to Sage Software. Organizations will make CRM investments for campaign management, call centres, salesforce automation, enhancing the customer experience, and improved sales forecasting, the developer of CRM and enterprise resource planning (ERP) for small and medium businesses said in late 2009.

Further underscoring the importance of CRM in the UAE, on April 10-14, 2011, the nation will host the Customer Service Week Forum, a gathering of customer service thought leaders, opinion formers, academics and business executives.

"As the world economy gradually recovers and pundits predict everything from a total recovery to another dip in consumer and business spending, organisations in the GCC region have now realised that exceptional customer service is the key to retaining and acquiring more customers," said event organizer the Institute for International Research (IIR)." According to customer management trends, one of the most striking aspects is the shift towards individualisation and customer experience management (CEM). Customers now demand a certain level of customisation when it comes to products and services. As anyone in an organisation can attest to, while it is easy to state that one has to be customer-centric, it is another thing to implement and have it reflected in every communication channel and customer touch point.

UAE as Progressive Business Leader

The UAE's economy is expected to reach almost $272.2 billion in 2010 compared with $248.9 billion in 2009, in large part because of higher oil prices, according to a September report by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). And for the second consecutive year, the nation was named an innovation-based economy by the World Economic Forum (WEF), the only Arab nation on a list that included the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Japan.

The UAE was also was ranked 25 worldwide for its competitiveness and has been named amongst the top 10 countries in the world in more than 18 indicators of competitiveness globally, according to the WEF report for 2010-2011. Countries are rated in 12 categories, including: institutions, infrastructure, macroeconomic stability, health and primary education, higher education and training, goods market efficiency, labour market efficiency, financial market sophistication, technological readiness, market size, business sophistication and innovation.

“The UAE’s ability to secure an advanced ranking, regionally and globally, with respect to the quality of infrastructure, the government’s provision of high technology products and other variables, is a result of the UAE government’s commitment to the development of infrastructure and building new economic sectors based on innovation," Abdullah Lootah, secretary general, Emirates Competitiveness Council, told Arabian Business.

Business ROI and CRM Payback

The combination of a growing economy and a history of technology adoption is spurring UAE organisations to invest in IT, including Customer Relationship Management systems.

UAE businesses want real-time accurate, information on the performance of their operations and employees, allowing them to quickly respond to changes in workload or demand, CRM vendor Sage said. CRM solutions let organizations make informed decisions based on real scenarios and real-time performance, without harming the quality of products or services or damaging customer relations, the business software developer said.

"CRM can be extremely useful in campaign management, salesforce automation, and contact centre and call centre operations, but its potential goes so much further beyond these. For instance, core CRM functionality such as opportunity management can improve the effectiveness of the sales team while allowing the marketing department to focus on the most profitable customer segment," said Vikram Suri, M.D., of Sage Software. "Furthermore, customised CRM solutions can ensure a consistently exceptional customer experience and enable the company to nurture long and profitable relationships with every customer."

CRM Across the UAE

The UAE's small and midsize enterprises, as well as few large corporations, are purchasing CRM software solutions, and showing increased customer retention and business competitiveness.

"In today’s developing retail environment, a robust ERP and CRM solution is witnessing a growing popularity as an essential tool to help local companies capitalise on prospects and deal with the challenges of their businesses,” said Suri. "[The UAE] remains a key market for us and our goal is to help more businesses take advantage of efficient management of resources within their internal processes through our solutions.”

Sage, of course, is not alone in its desire to win-over the hearts and budgets of UAE businesses. Microsoft continues to heavily market its Dynamics CRM solution, beating Oracle to win a contract with the UAE consumer banking operation of Barclays Bank, for example.

“Our users were already switching between five screens among our core banking systems,” says Noman Rasheed, deputy head of technology at Barclays Bank LP, UAE. “We needed a solution that was not only very easy to learn and use, but could integrate easily with our systems so that we could consolidate everything onto one screen. And given our small IT staff, we didn’t have an army of resources to support the in-house or Oracle alternatives. By contrast, Microsoft Dynamics CRM met these criteria.”

Last year, UAE's Expresso Telecom Group was one of more than 140 telecommunications worldwide that selected or extended their use of Oracle Communications applications, Oracle said. And Emirates EAB -- which has operations in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Kingdom and the Channel Islands of Jersey -- used Oracle E-Business Suite to automate more than 50 processes such as workforce planning, payroll, training, performance management, and career management.

Software as a Service (SaaS) CRM developers are also making a push into the UAE. Some vendors, such as Salesforce.com and NetSuite, are largely selling direct to customers, while other SaaS CRM vendors such as Microsoft and SAP are more aggressively building business partnerships such as Value Added Resellers (VARs) to penetrate the UAE market and GCC region.

Industry Specific CRM Solutions

In addition to the vast general business opportunity in the UAE, some CRM software providers are focusing on vertical solutions targeted at specific industries and markets.

The retail market is expected to spend heavily on enterprise application software such as CRM and ERP, Sage said. "As local UAE companies concentrate on transitioning from manual environments to full automation of back-office systems with aims to boost efficiencies, our goal is to deliver robust technologies that can accommodate the diversity of all major markets. Through our solutions, organisations can build competitive advantages and increase their profits, which will effectively drive the growth of various markets,” said Suri.

Other CRM suppliers are even more tightly focused. Developer Septech created Marina Management Solutions for marina, dry storage and boat servicing companies. Dubai Festival City Marina and Dubai Marina Yacht Club are among the business software's users.

“Globally marina development has suffered enormously from the economic downturn, but in contrast we’re seeing a marked growth in demand from the Emirate of Abu Dhabi,” said Septech's Bruce Birtwistle. “We estimate that the drop in the global demand has reduced software revenues by 20%; we’re fortunate to be operating in one of the few markets still showing forward progress on marine development.”

Whether they need a general-purpose CRM software solution or a vertically-honed industry application, businesses in the UAE have a plethora of options in their quest to enhance customer relationships and service, while simultaneously cutting overhead, costs and financial fat. End

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Comments (5) — Comments for this page are closed —

Guest VinayR
  It is no surprise that UAE leads the GCC and Arab world in CRM, customer service and technology adoption. The research from Arab Advisors Group's Total Country Connectivity Measure (TCCM) shows UAE is the most connected country in the Arab world, followed by Saudi Arabia and Qatar. It is of course also the most pro-business country and most open to simple travel entry and foreign investment which allows it to compete favorably as the preferred gateway to the GCC and MENA by businesses from the rest of the world.

Guest Abdul Bandari
  How are cloud crm systems being received in the UAE?
  Denise Denise Holland
    Cloud computing and software as a service are frequent topics of conversation among CIOs and business executives throughout the United Arab Emirates. In fact, the GITEX Dubai 2010 conference created a new Cloud Computing Confex to cater to the significant increase in customer demand for cloud education, solutions and services. Having said that, cloud computing and software as a service CRM systems are being implemented in the UAE and GCC much more slowly than other global regions - probably in part due to cultural caution as well as much less promotion from the large SaaS CRM vendors and a less mature cloud and SaaS supplier market. SaaS CRM systems remain in the early adopter phase in the GCC and likely won't advance to the early majority phase before late 2011 or 2012.

Guest Nasser Al Thehiban
  Who are the SaaS customer management software leaders in UAE?
  Denise Denise Holland
    There are no SaaS customer relationship management software leaders in the UAE or the GCC at this point; there are only contenders. Large CRM vendors such as Salesforce.com and Microsoft Dynamics CRM are showing some early but very limited market share success. Oracle On Demand, and SAP with their fairly new Business ByDesign product, are making big attempts to enter and penetrate the small business and middle market but also only have sporadic success. At this point, no single CRM vendor can claim a legitimate leadership position.
 

 

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The UAE’s ability to secure an advanced ranking, regionally and globally, with respect to the quality of infrastructure, the government’s provision of high technology products and other variables, is a result of the UAE government’s commitment to the development of infrastructure and building new economic sectors based on innovation."

Abdullah Lootah, Secretary General, Emirates Competitiveness Council

 

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In today’s developing retail environment, a robust ERP and CRM solution is witnessing a growing popularity as an essential tool to help local UAE companies capitalise on prospects and deal with the challenges of their businesses.”

~ Vikram Suri, M.D., Sage Software

 

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