Precision is the business of Nikon, a Japanese technology corporation. Whether dealing with a high-resolution camera or a scientifically precise microscope—the point is to always focus on the details. Before, Nikon GmbH Deutschland had a less detail-oriented approach to customer data. Data was distributed across several systems, which was more of a hindrance than a help to sales. Staff lacked important information during customer visits and found that routine tasks like preparing sales reports were a lot of work. Nikon decided to address these issues with professional CRM software. Nikon now is using Microsoft Dynamics® CRM for quick and simplified collection of data, which has resulted in better quality in the reporting system. Management now has much more sales information available for decision making. Also, more efficient business processes have resulted in additional timesavings.
Anyone evaluating manufacturers before buying a digital camera would find Nikon to be one of the top three choices. The Japanese corporation is known internationally as one of the most respected manufacturers of precision optical technology, which also includes telescopes, microscopes, and film scanners. Nikon cameras cover the entire spectrum, from the compact entry model to the mirror-reflex camera for professional photographers.
When developing technical innovations, such as the vibration reduction method for image stabilization, Nikon also pays attention to long-term investment protection. This applies to lenses, for example, “Those who purchase a digital single-lens-reflex (SLR) camera can be faced with the dilemma of having to replace the lens because the mount has changed. This can be very expensive. Our lenses, on the other hand, remain compatible,” emphasizes Marcus Diepenseifen, Coordinator of Business Information at Nikon GmbH Deutschland.
Nikon has had a sales presence in Düsseldorf since 1971. The 120 German employees were responsible for sales of approximately €220 million (U.S.$343 million) in 2006.
Structures Lacked Transparency
In mid-2005, Nikon GmbH Deutschland analyzed data management in its sales organization and discovered several structural weaknesses. While it stored a portion of its customer-related information in a database that it had developed in house, it used Microsoft® Office for correspondence, e-mail, scheduling, and work planning.
“The essential information needed for customer service was available, but it was distributed among various systems, computers, and locations,” recalls Diepenseifen. This resulted in many manual operating procedures and a relatively high need for communication among employees. There was a lack of transparency because uniform data management was non-existent. Offline synchronization or data alignment between the systems was only partially or not at all possible. Statistical analyses could only be compiled with great difficulty.
Centralized System Needed
“What we were really missing was a central system that could be used to guide sales more efficiently,” says Diepenseifen. In mid-2005, Nikon GmbH Deutschland decided to implement modern customer relationship management (CRM) software.
The top priority was to manage product, customer, and sales information on one platform. “A central data pool was supposed to supply our sales employees with all the information they need for interactions with specialized retailers. At the same time, management expected well-founded sales information to serve as the basis for decision making,” recounts Diepenseifen.
Easy-to-Use Solution Required
Keeping practical aspects in mind, Nikon prioritized factors such as the link to Microsoft Office, contact management, or offline synchronization of data. “We wanted the learning process to be painless. The user interface played an important role,” says Diepenseifen. The project team compiled a decision matrix, which listed all relevant functions by their importance.
Microsoft Dynamics® CRM emerged as the winner with the most points, besting solutions from Siebel and Salesforce.com. Diepenseifen was impressed by its tight integration with Microsoft Office, “Microsoft Dynamics CRM looks like Outlook, acts like Outlook, and is just as easy to use. We were able to keep the learning curve factor to a minimum.” Nikon selected Microsoft partner impello GbR to handle implementation.
The starting bell for implementation was sounded in May 2006. Significant customization was not planned at the outset. “The existing business processes were completely adequate for our purposes. We were able to accommodate the different structures of specialized retailers and electronics markets very precisely,” explains Diepenseifen.
||The acceptance … is clearly noticeable after just three months. … Microsoft Dynamics CRM is really fun.
Coordinator of Business Information, Nikon GmbH Deutschland
Just a few fields were intended to be added so that customer-specific features could be entered. However, the application’s flexible program structure quickly generated its own momentum. Over the course of the project, Nikon added further enhancements, ranging from minor modifications to a complex integration solution. For example, a pop-up menu was added to allow users to quickly note customers’ statements.
The greatest benefit, however, comes from the link to the SAP R/3 corporate software, which supplies Nikon’s Sales department with up-to-date corporate numbers. This makes it possible for sales employees who are preparing for a scheduled meeting to automatically get information about whether there is an order backlog and what the associated numbers may be.
Previously, employees frequently spent up to an hour a day manually verifying this data. “We are now very well prepared for the inevitable questions,” emphasizes Diepenseifen. Sales or current budget capacities are exchanged using this connection. The tight integration between Microsoft Dynamics CRM and SAP R/3 was accomplished using a solution from software vendor Scribe.
Along with the financial aspect, the drafting of contracts plays a central role in relationship management. Using CRM software, staff has access to important details such as the annual sales agreements of individual specialized retailers.
From an operational point of view, Nikon uses Microsoft Dynamics CRM to manage contacts in particular. In this case, users store sales call reports and document important contacts. “However, we don’t require our employees to note every telephone call. Too meticulous an interpretation of CRM is more likely to be counterproductive,” Diepenseifen believes.
Nikon has been using Microsoft Dynamics CRM since February 2007. Its implementation was exceptionally smooth, observes Diepenseifen, “Technical implementation was absolutely without any problems. It boiled down to preparation—by adequately specifying all requirements in advance, we avoided delays during the course of the project.”
Staff Easily Access Data in a Single Location
It was not difficult for sales staff to get comfortable with the software because the situation at the outset was simply “disastrous” to begin with. With access to a well-maintained, central data pool (which is also available to employees away from the office), a less time-consuming coordination process, and quick and simple collection of sales data, Microsoft Dynamics CRM quickly captured first place among the various applications.
High Employee Acceptance
Employees are also pleased with the native integration with Microsoft Office. “The acceptance of Microsoft Dynamics CRM is really noticeable after just three months. The reports are more detailed and are available more quickly. Microsoft Dynamics CRM is really fun,” says Diepenseifen.
Increased Quality of Sales Reports
Management is also benefiting from the new “culture” of report writing. For example, sales managers now have detailed information at their disposal about competition or the market resonance of new products.
However, it is still too early for Diepenseifen to make quantitative statements, “We will closely observe how Microsoft Dynamics CRM is used over the next few months. We will collect proposals and suggestions for improvement and then make a decision about further system expansion.” What has been decided already is the implementation of campaign management, which will start in the near term.
Microsoft Dynamics is a line of integrated, adaptable business management solutions that enables you and your people to make business decisions with greater confidence. Microsoft Dynamics works like familiar Microsoft software such as Microsoft Office, which means less of a learning curve for your people, so they can get up and running quickly and focus on what’s most important. And because it is from Microsoft, it easily works with the systems that your company already has implemented. By automating and streamlining financial, customer relationship, and supply chain processes, Microsoft Dynamics brings together people, processes, and technologies, increasing the productivity and effectiveness of your business, and helping you drive business success.
For more information about Microsoft Dynamics, go to:
For More Information
For more information about Microsoft products and services, call the Microsoft Sales Information Center at (800) 426-9400. In Canada, call the Microsoft Canada Information Centre at (877) 568-2495. Customers who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can reach Microsoft text telephone (TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892-5234 in the United States or (905) 568-9641 in Canada. Outside the 50 United States and Canada, please contact your local Microsoft subsidiary. To access information using the World Wide Web, go to:
For more information about impello GbR products and services, call 0911 2526300 or visit the Web site at:
For more information about Nikon products and services, call or visit the Web site at: