Customer Needs Management (CNM) - An Introduction

Last week, AMR Research's Jeffrey Hojlo released a report about how Oracle is addressing the "front of innovation" with the Customer Needs Management (CNM) product.

Customer Needs Management, as such, means different things to different customers. For many, such as large Industrial manufacturing companies operating in an Engineer, Build or Configure to Order (ETO, BTO or CTO) mode, it involves detailed understanding of a single customer's requirements so they can provide an accurate quote that beats the competitors' in understanding and meeting the customer's requirements, not to mention price. For those at the other end of the spectrum, such as Build to Stock Consumer Goods companies, customer needs are more like the needs of a huge market comprising of thousands or millions of customers. Perhaps that's why the front-end of innovation is so fuzzy. Despite the stark contrast, however, there are striking similarities among all verticals in the task of managing customer needs.We spoke to a number of our customers across various industries about how they manage their customers' requirements. As expected, everybody had a different answer, including different levels of investment, different sets of tools, and even different set of people involved in the process. However, some things stood out rather distinctly:
• The process varies between teams and between products/projects
• Tools like email and spreadsheets are relied on at some or the other part of the process
• The ability to organize, index and integrate information from various sources is one of the foremost pain points

In providing a solution that optimally addresses these pain points, therefore, we determined that it needs to have the following set of features:
• Flexibility of process
• Ease of collaboration
• Ease of Integration
• Simplicity of Use

The significance of the last one cannot be overemphasized. Time and again our customers have recited stories of IT solutions that were abandoned because they were very complex, and could not be used by those in direct touch with the customer. To that end, we're trying to leverage a number of features of Enterprise 2.0 applications to help users lost in a sea of emails and spreadsheets bring some method to the madness. This is not to say that emails and spreadsheets will go away - they still remain unreplaceable tools for some parts of the process. However, the ability to integrate with and search on such tools as well as with enterprise applications helps a Sales Engineer or Product Manager tap into the wealth of information that may otherwise be lost forever.

How does your company go about the very important business of innovation? I'd love to hear your comments on this blog. As with any post about a future product, the following disclaimer applies:
The above is intended to outline our general product direction. It is intended for information purposes only, and may not be incorporated into any contract. It is not a commitment to deliver any material, code, or functionality, and should not be relied upon in making purchasing decision. The development, release, and timing of any features or functionality described for Oracle's products remains at the sole discretion of Oracle.

Comments:

Hi, I am curious to know when Agile going to have CNM, as there is no literature on Oracle Site that talks about CNM, except this blog. Majority of Firms use Engineering configurator, normally the sales/dealers efficiently freeze the customer requirement by coming up with the configurations. Normally, Engineering and Sales configurator rules are combined. To generate ATP date (available to Promise). EEE companies, Furniture manufacturing companies uses this approach. I guess, you would have come across some. Also, when it comes to integration, these engineering and sales configurator works offline and online. Due to mobility factor. It helps dealers to update data after business hours. I have come across this scenario on CNM. Regards, Paritosh

Posted by Paritosh Deshmukh on January 12, 2010 at 07:13 PM PST #

Hi, there is actually a short introduction to CNM in Oracle Partner portal. looks quite "simple " to use, would be interested to see if there's any advanced functionality beneath.

Posted by Matti Puhakka on June 08, 2010 at 02:46 PM PDT #

We just released the first version of Customer Needs Management (CNM). Here's my blog post announcing that release http://blogs.oracle.com/PLM/2010/05/innovating_with_customer_needs_1.html

Posted by Anurag Batra on June 08, 2010 at 03:21 PM PDT #

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