CRM is one of the largest software markets for technology implementation. CRM, a customer-centric function, needs very rapid evolution in line with changing customer behaviors and needs. Unfortunately, the on-premise COTS (commercial off-the-shelf) packaged and bespoke CRM applications cannot offer business owners enough agility and confidence to continuously evolve with the pace needed to remain competitive in the market.

The on-premise CRM implementations have primarily been attributed to involving highly complex architecture and hard-coupled designs. Any change is often time-consuming, difficult, and costly to implement, with a very long gestation period to scale up or down as per business requirements. With on-premise applications, there are often natural entry and exit barriers w.r.t to scaling up or scaling down of infrastructure, vendor lock-in, persistence with legacy technology, and lack of agility to upgrade or modernize. The longer the duration of maintaining on-premise legacy CRM applications, the higher the possibility of accumulated technical debt. Some of the major pain areas associated with legacy CRM applications include:

  • Applications operating on outdated technology stacks in the digital era limit features like mobility, device dependency, and compatibility issues.
  • Abnormally high time to market in case of new product launch.
  • Disintegrated CRM functions with siloed marketing, sales, and service functions.
  • Outdated products and associated redundant business processes – legacy CRM applications often support legacy products that haven’t been rationalized over the years.
  • Not having a unified 360* view of customers.
  • Product technology stack limitations leading to designs that are not user-friendly and cumbersome.
  • Analysis-paralysis – not able to prototype and innovate enough; majority of time is spent on doing additional due diligence given the high costs to implement any change instead of having an option to prototype, innovate and adopt or discard as per prototyping outcomes.
  • Locked-in – can’t get rid of expensive conventional CRM processes and workflows because of consequential upstream/downstream impacts.
  • The cost of change is enormous as the release cycles are long.
  • Effort spent on non-core competencies, e.g., maintaining a captive data center, is not a core competency of many organizations.

Why CRM matters?

CRM is not a system of record for customer information management but a system of engagement that organizations can leverage to truly differentiate the way they engage with customers and generate critical business insights. CRM as a system of engagement is intrinsic to all customer sales, customer services, and customer engagement activities. The diagram provides a view of the critical business capabilities (non-exhaustive) supported by CRM systems across marketing, sales, services, order management, omnichannel enablement, and insights generation.

What are the typical Challenges?

Here are the typical challenges associated with CRM legacy applications:

  • Long lead times to market – generally very high lead times to deliver new enhancements, increments, and changes, thereby delaying business outcomes.
  • Non-modular application architecture – highly obstinate architecture with redundant functions.
  • Heavyweight interfaces with no abstraction – hard mapped traditional web services; any mapping change or an extension results in a full-blown change which takes enormous time and costs to deliver.
  • Hard-coupled systems and dependencies – over a period, legacy CRM systems inherit and develop many system and manual dependencies. However, many band-aid solutions and workarounds are designed to support dated business processes.
  • Inter-operability issues – technologies deployed are generally nearing the end of life or are out of support, having missed one or more upgrade cycles since inception.
  • Commonplace non-intuitive user experience – incredibly dull user interface with little consideration for user interface design and overall user experience.
  • High cost of ownership – hosting applications on-premise in a self-managed captive data center involves a high cost of ownership and substantial exit barriers.
  • Difficult to scale – scaling application and operations warrants meticulous planning, infrastructure sourcing, implementation, testing, and rollout efforts.
  • Low automation quotient – given the traditional technology landscape, there is limited focus on automated solutions and working methods, e.g., manual CI/CD practices, manual testing, etc.

If you can relate to these challenges, there is a strong case for modernizing your CRM system. Our next blog will outline the significant solution considerations that organizations must assess while contemplating a migration to the public cloud and determining the overall modernization approach.

Ashish Sahi

Ashish Sahi


Ashish Sahi is a Principal Consultant in Digital Advisory practice at Infosys Consulting. Ashish brings expertise in business and IT strategy, experience design, operating model design, digital technology advisory, program delivery management, cloud computing, data and product management. Ashish has strong global experience in leading digital transformation engagements. Ashish is an avid learner, firm believer in continuous up-skilling and enjoys problem solving using digital solutions.

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