Required: Independent discipline in CRM

Emerging as an essential asset for an organization, Customer Relationship management (CRM) needs for a company’s executives today is being fulfilled through their in-house CRM courses or from outside institutes. Baring a few, no institute offers significant courses in CRM and therefore, the need for CRM still remains unfulfilled.

CRM training and courses available today are of short duration. On the need of the subject, there is unanimous consensus. While Professor Abdul Aziz Ansari, Head, Department of Commerce and Business studies, Jamia Milia Islamia, Delhi, says that today’s market scenario demands that CRM be introduced as an independent course, Professor S.K.Chadda, University Business School, Panjab University, says, “The concept of CRM is not a new concept. Its relevance is increasing day by day. CRM has already evolved into CEM (Customer Experience Management).”

In spite of its great demand, the subject is still taught as a subsidiary subject. In the universities, CRM forms just a part of syllabi of full-fledged courses like MBA. Though MBA can be specialised in different streams like marketing, finance and HR, specialisation in CRM sounds absurd as hardly any university has taken initiative to design and conduct till date, any course in this context. The scenario is certainly different in foreign countries where, realising the importance, universities like Baylor University and New York University are already launching full courses in CRM. Indian universities produce every year several thousand MBA graduates who have a little or no knowledge about CRM. Surely, some of these business graduates step into the world of business without adequate knowledge about CRM.


Much pronounced need

CRM is central to business for the simple reason that any business has to deal with customers and no business works without customers. ‘Acquisition, sustaining and motivating customers’ can be one of the best definitions of business. In this context, you can easily see and appreciate the importance of CRM to the fullest. Observing the increasing relevance of CRM in retail and others sectors, Professor Ansari says, “Yes, there is a need to develop the subject into a full-fledged subject and offer graduates and masters courses in CRM.” He further adds, “The challenge that has to be met includes designing the course, UGC approval, faculty and finance. So, it will take time.”

CRM is a cross-functional business discipline. It sits nowhere, but it belongs everywhere. It can be claimed by marketing, I-T, operations or strategy subject-matter experts, but it is generally owned by no one.  Prof. Chadda, says, “CRM or CEM comes in many sectors due to its wide application.” Due to its multifaceted nature, the discipline has multi-role resulting in wide application spectrum in various aspects, which can be made to fall into three broad categories (technological, operational and HR aspects). Increasing application of CRM that we see today in retail sector and others is proof of the increasing value of the subject. Professor Raghbir Singh, Department of Commerce, Guru Nanak Dev University, says, “In today’s scenario, especially in the service sectors like banking, insurance and I-T, there is need for individuals specialised in CRM. The situation demands that CRM be developed into a full fledged subject.” As for challenges to be met, he feels, “Starting full-fledged programmes in CRM, there are certain problems like faculty and designing.”  On the other hand, Professor Satish Kapoor, Dean, Management and Commerce Faculty, Panjab University believes, “There is a need to develop CRM into a full-fledged subject but there is no need of conducting CRM into a full-fledged course. The university is considering this (developing into full subject) and it will take some time to achieve this target.”

On the feasibility of developing the subject into a major, Prof. Chadda observes, “The subject of CRM is taught in main management programmes like MBA and MIB. The relevance of CRM is increasing day by day. In another two to three years, its relevance may increase enough and the need for designing and offering long-term or full-term course may be pronounced more.”


Present scenario

If CRM is essential to the industry, then how are we fulfilling this need presently? As we know already, the subject forms a part of university management courses like MBA and MIB. Besides this, a considerable number of institutes and websites offer specifically CRM courses and many students including business executives are taking these classes. But these courses are of short durations and are designed to equip students with the fundamentals of CRM and their applications. Some courses, considered advanced, teach not only an in-depth knowledge of the discipline but also orientation towards both CRM processes and technology. These courses enable them to understand the importance of CRM and the issues involved in developing, implementing and operating the CRM system in an organisation. These courses also aim at developing the decision-making capabilities in the area of CRM. Courses in CRM apprise the participants of the various schools of thought on CRM and help them understand the impact of CRM on the economic growth of an organisation.
Whatever it is, the problem comes up when a career aspirant in CRM wants to do a full-time course. Because, these courses are yet to be developed by our premier institutes and universities. There are two reasons, which are hindering presently the development of CRM as a full-fledged subject. There is paucity of experts in the field and so the problem of ‘who will teach’ exists. Another reason lies in the lack of initiatives. Even if the need is felt, lack of initiative towards creativity and innovations make repeating the old courses for years. It is high time that industrialists and academics join hands in levelling up the present status of this important subject to a full-fledged discipline status.

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