The xRM concept has evolved over the past ten years from the sales force automation (SFA) and customer relationship management (CRM) applications of the previous decade to the sophisticated everything (x) management solutions of today. xRM allows you to leverage technology to create efficiencies and become more profitable.

Definition of xRM

Software developers and business analysts commonly define xRM in one of two ways.

In the first definition, the "x" in xRM refers to extended relationship management, which represents the extension of CRM platforms far beyond customer relationship management.

In the second definition, the "x" is an algebraic variable that can represent almost any relationship that a business needs to manage. In both definitions, expanding the functionality of the CRM platform is the key. An xRM solution can manage more than relationships with customers; it can manage suppliers, employees, partners, assets, knowledge bases, and just about anything else a company might wish to manage in a relational database.

Evolution of xRM

xRM is a business strategy with a long history. To give you some perspective on the industry changes, which have occurred over time, we've put together a brief overview:

Personal Information Management (PIM): It all began with the introduction of the Rolodex in the late 1950s, which centralized contact information that was used on a frequent basis. PIM, at this time however, was limited to static, discrete records. It didn't offer a lot of related customer information, except for a note or two at the bottom of the card that contained the record. For additional information, businesses often had to resort to unwieldy filing systems.

Contact Management Software (CM): An outgrowth of the concept of PIM, Contact Management software products such as ACT, Maximizer and Outlook made an appearance in the late 1980s and early 1990s. They offered a value-added system of tracking sales process stages. Businesses could add notes, and even link contacts to one another in a rudimentary fashion. These linkages were the first hints of what was to come in CRM.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM): Companies began to truly expand their relationships with customers in the late 1990s. New technologies allowed them to view information three dimensionally and, more importantly to exploit it successfully. CRM was eventually broken down into divisions like Operational CRM, Sales Force Automation and Customer Service CRM. As a result of this segmentation, targeted products were created that dealt with sales, customer service and customer retention. In many cases, companies would end up purchasing either a very expensive suite of applications, that attempted to cover all of these categories, or several different products that needed to be integrated.

And finally, we come to xRM, the natural evolution of CRM. The "X" part of the equation stands for any and all aspects of business, not just relationships with customers. Nowadays, companies need a unified platform that connects every part of their operations so that each piece works together seamlessly. When using business-critical applications like sales, accounting and administration, employees need the ability to easily access data from one place. Most importantly, that data needs to make sense to all departments so that communication can flow in every direction smoothly and quickly. xRM is more than a CRM product or service— it's a strategic approach to understanding what makes a business thrive, what information needs to be tracked, by whom, and how it needs to be displayed and leveraged to facilitate better decisions. The formula for a successful xRM deployment always includes scalable and robust platforms that automate many of the manual processes involved in daily operations.

Because every business is unique and uses different logic to make decisions, flexibility is paramount to success. The chances of one single application meeting all the requirements for a particular business are slim to none. Therefore, it is imperative that you educate yourself on the various software publishers in the marketplace, and select a company that provides products that can meet all your CRM software requirements. (Source:

By Anjum Siddiqi