Surf’s up for CRM

Today, KPMG will announce a European alliance with US software vendor E.piphany, but faces mid-tier competition in the growing customer relationship management market.

The E.piphany deal follows KPMG’s link with networking giant Cisco Systems last month. Cisco took a 20% stake in KPMG Management Consulting with a pledge to invest more than $1bn in the firm’s Internet services businesses.

Later this month Cisco will announce whether KPMG’s UK consulting wing has won the race to host a European centre to support Cisco customers.

CRM has been widely tipped as the next area of explosive growth in the financial software market. In the UK, E.piphany’s product, E.4 system, will be targeted at small and large companies in the financial services and hi-tech industries.

Graham Oates, KPMG consulting executive partner said: ‘People talk about consultants losing their objectivity but our clients want us to put our money where our mouth is’.

The KPMG-E.piphany tie-up followed the unveiling last week of Great Plains’ eEnterprise strategy, which will be brought to the UK mid-market by accountant-consultants Deloitte & Touche Management Solutions, Windsor-based Williams Allen and Mazars Neville Russell offshoot Advantage Business Systems.

The eEnterprise brand encompasses a new version, 5.5, of the Dynamics C/S+ Financials package, existing distribution and e-commerce modules and new manufacturing, service management and customer relationship management applications.

The software should be available in the UK from October.

The Great Plains CRM offering comes from Siebel, which will bundle its software with the Dynamics C/S range. The precise front office functions that would be included in the bundle was not yet settled, but should represent around 80% of the full blown Siebel suite.

Tony Compton, head of Deloittes’ Great Plains group greeted the CRM announcement enthusiastically: ‘The return on investment for CRM is very fast – three, six or nine months is not uncommon.’

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