The Lexicon of CRM - Part 3: From R to Z

  • Written By: Randy Garland
  • Published: November 2 2001

The Lexicon of CRM

Part 3: From R to Z
R. Garland - November 2, 2001

The Lexicon is divided into three parts, this being the second of three. This third section covers the alphabet from R to Z. For A to I, see Part One. For J to Q, see Part Two.

RDBMS - Relational DataBase Management System. The typical, standard database, with both data models, data definitions, and data storage capabilities. Examples include Oracle's 9i database, Microsoft's SQLServer 2000, and IBM's DB2 and Informix.

RFI - Request For Information. A formal document sent by a customer to a vendor asking for specific information about their product or line of products. It's usually the first salvo in several rounds of information gathering by customers in the vendor selection process.

RFQ - Request For Quote. A formal document sent by a customer to a vendor asking them to put together a product and service package, with prices, for the customer to consider accepting and ultimately buying.

RMA - Returned Materials Authorization. Most companies require that customers contact them before returning previously-purchased product, to receive authorization to return the product. The customer is usually given an RMA number, for tracking purposes.

ROI - A calculation of how much money will be saved or earned as the result of an investment. When evaluating CRM packages, be sure to factor in investments of both time and capital in your ROI analysis.

Rollback Capability - The ability of an RDBMS, in the case of a catastrophic failure, to be able to return to, or roll back to, a set point in time when the database was known to be stable. This is less preferred than the ability for an RDBMS to "fail-over" to a hot spare server, losing no data and suffering no down time in the process.



Sales Pipeline - This is the list of potential customers that the sales department is currently trying to convert into paying customers. Typically, customer deals in the pipeline are assigned dollar values and "percentages likely to convert", and from that, sales forecasts can be approximated.

SFA - Sales Force Automation. One of the lynchpins of CRM. This enables the Sales team to capture and maintain lead and other contact information in one data store, conduct team selling, view pipeline reports, and other tasks. This is still the first objective of most companies implementing CRM solutions.

SLA - Service Level Agreement. This is the agreed-upon level of service that will be provided by the vendor to the customer upon purchase of product. Variables include: channels supported, hours of the day, days of the week, response times, and on-site support.

SMBs - Small to Medium Businesses. A segment of the market in general that tends to be the target of enterprise application and database vendors these days who have "already gone after the big fish," namely, large, Fortune 500 companies, and are trolling the waters for smaller catch. Sometimes called SMEs, or Small to Medium Enterprises, though that could be confused with Subject Matter Expert.

SOAP - Simple Object Access Protocol. SOAP is a lightweight protocol for exchange of information in a decentralized, distributed environment. It is an XML-based protocol that consists of three parts: an envelope that defines a framework for describing what is in a message and how to process it; a set of encoding rules for expressing data types, and; a convention for representing remote procedure calls and responses.

SR - Service Request. The latest term for support case, problem ticket, work order, or other terms previously used. A Service Request is established in CRM software to track a customer contact through to its conclusion. It contains contact information, details about the issue or problem at hand, and usually concludes with a summary of how the problem was solved.

Stinger - Microsoft's code name for its OS that will run on a family of smart phones, which are a class of wireless phones with oversized displays and color screens--designed for wireless Web access and conventional phone calls. The first hardware product is reported to have been in the works for two to three years and will be marketed by Samsung in the United States and Europe.

T & U 

TCO - Total Cost of Ownership. When evaluating software for possible implementation in your company, you can't just consider the costs of the software licenses, on-going maintenance fees, and support costs. You also need to consider how much time, and in turn, how much money, it will cost to own the software over the long term. Is the software very buggy and in need of constant bug updates and enhancements? Is the software difficult to use and therefore requires higher training costs and ramp-up times? TCO considers ALL the costs that might be associated with a piece of software over its lifespan in the company.

TCP/IP - Transmission Control Protocol / Internet Protocol. TCP/IP is the method by which data on the Internet is divided into packets of bytes. Information is divided into packets of information, with each packet delimited with header information that includes the destination address to where the packet is to be routed when it is transmitted over the Internet, and how it is to be re-assembled with the other packets containing the coherent data on the other end. Packets may take very different routes across the Internet, arrive at a destination, be re-assembled in the same order in which they were disassembled, and presented to the user on the other end.

Technically, IP is responsible for moving packets of data from node to node. IP forwards each packet based on a four-byte destination address (the IP number). TCP is responsible for verifying the correct delivery of data from client to server. Data can be lost in the intermediate network. TCP adds support to detect errors or lost data and to trigger retransmission until the data is correctly and completely received.

Thin Client - Another term for web browser. When an application vendor says that they have support for thin client, they mean that the majority of processing happens on back-end servers, and the display mechanism is the web browser, which conducts minimal (though, with Java or ActiveX plug-ins, possibly more substantial) processing of data.

TSBs - Technical Service Bulletins. Information distributed to the customer base of a product to inform them of some technical news bit that would be relevant to their implementation, such as the discovery of a new bug, the availability of a patch, or the availability of a new version of software.

Unicode - A standard for representing characters, such as numbers, letters, and symbols, as integers. Unlike ASCII, which uses 7 bits for each character, Unicode uses 16 bits, which means it can represent more than 65,000 unique characters. This covers the requirements for not only languages such as English and the Western-European languages, but also for other languages, such as Greek, Latin, and Japanese. As the software industry becomes increasingly global, there is a push on for software vendors to enable their software to use the Unicode coding format.

Unified Message Queuing - This represents the ability to take inbound requests from multiple channels (see Multi-Channel Support in Part 2 of this series), funnel them into one logical processing point, and then to be able to send out the requests to user queues for work. It represents the blending of such items as email, phone calls, and faxes, into the same queues.

Up-sell, Cross-sell - The sales practice of analyzing a user purchase, and recommending additional items that the user might be interested in purchasing based on the initial purchase. Up-selling is the process of adding on pieces to the original purchase; Cross-selling is selling similar or similarly appealing items to the customer.

V - Z 

VAR - Value-Added Reseller. This is a company, independent of an OEM, that takes an OEM product, adds some sort of customer-perceived value to it, repackages it, and sells it to customers on its own. The ways in which value might be added include the addition of new product functionality, or the wrapping of implementation services around the original product.

V-Commerce - Voice Commerce, or Voice-enabled Commerce. The ability to use simple voice commands over phone lines to transact business directly between customer and application. V-Commerce is still years away from true value-add for companies, though several companies are playing around with voice commands today.

Vertical Applications - Applications that are tailored to specific industries. For example, Siebel Systems might take their core application and tailor the screens, fields, and database structures to support the automotive industry (both sales and service). Their Siebel Automotive application would be an example of a vertical application.

VoIP - Voice over IP. The ability to carry on a conversation over the Internet, while still browsing the Internet. Typically requires broadband (e.g., DSL, cable, or LAN-based connections), which right now have fairly limited penetration into consumer households. Hence, VoIP is not yet broadly implemented by web sites creators.

WAP/WML - Wireless Application Protocol and Wireless Markup Language. These are syntax used to program content for wireless phones using languages that allow the text portions of Web pages to be presented.

White Paper - A lengthy, often technical, article on a topic that provides background information on corporate products, industries, or industry trends.

WIP bins - Work In Process bins. Can also be thought of as personal To-Do lists. They represent personal queues, to which only one user has access. When an item is in an individuals WIP bin, they "own" that Service Request and are responsible for solving the problem or answering the question, unless they pass the SR to another employee's WIP bin.

XML - eXtensible Markup Language. A superset of the ubiquitous HTML (HyperText Markup Language) that is the common language of the web. HTML is really good at defining how elements should be laid out on a page, but terrible at transmitting data. XML solves the problem, by defining both elements for data, and elements for data about data, or metadata, to explain what kind of data is being passed (see the example provided in Part 2, under the definition for Metadata). It is being heralded as the "EDI of the Internet," and the future of inter-database, inter-application, and inter-company communications.

ZLE - Zero Latency Enterprise. The latest, new-fangled term to come from the consulting world. It represents the Enterprise that is so technologically enabled that information is instantly accessible to anyone who needs it (or has need of it) at any time. Zero latency, or zero slowness, of information flow across an enterprise.

This concludes Part 3, the last part, of the series on the Lexicon of CRM.

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