CC Image courtesy Pop Culture Geek on FlickrI’ve always had questionable taste in heroes. As a five-year old, I idolized Darth Vader, cheering madly for him to crush those long-haired, scofflaw, pot-smoking Jedi hippies. As an adult, I found a new hero: Lance Armstrong, a man who rose from the ashes of cancer and went on to win the most grueling sporting event in the world – seven consecutive times!

However, both of my life-long heroes are now shrouded in disgrace. Darth Vader, in the end, turned all soft and gooey – renouncing the Dark Side and returning to a life of macaroni salad, rainbows, and unicorns. Lance Armstrong, if we are to believe the growing body of critics, consumed more drugs than John Belushi, Jim Morrison, and Jerry Garcia combined – and apparently kept a refrigerator stocked with kegs of his own blood for late-night snacking and pre-race blood transfusions.

Nobody’s perfect. Hell, we aren’t so naïve as to expect that. But we do expect our heroes – whether they be in sports, politics, or business – to live up to a slightly higher standard. Perhaps no one was surprised when Marion Jones, Jose Canseco, and Barry Bonds were busted for steroids (come on, have you seen the size of their biceps, not to mention the size of their foreheads). And yes, we’re all accustomed to politicians lying to us about anything and everything, whether it is Al Gore suggesting that he invented the Internet, or Paul Ryan claiming to have run a sub-3 hour marathon. But I think many of us were surprised when Scott Thompson, the former CEO of Yahoo was fired for lying on his resume. And who among us would have ever guessed that sweet-little Martha Stewart would go to prison for insider trading?

In a world of falsified resumes, insider trading, broken campaign promises, Ponzi schemes, and performance-enhancing drugs, it hard not to get frustrated. We’ve all gotten accustomed to coming home and turning on the television or computer to read about the latest disgraced hero who has failed us. We’ve been let down enough in our personal lives. The last thing we want is to go into work in the morning and find out that our CRM systems have failed us as well. But for millions of business users across the globe, this is an all too painful reality. It’s called, Your-Standalone-CRM-System-Sucks-Syndrome.

You receive a phone call or email from a customer, but your CRM system doesn’t recognize the telephone number or email address; apparently your SaaS-based CRM isn’t connected to your on-premise CTI software. So you manually go into the CRM system to pull up a customer’s account, but instead of one consolidated customer record you find three different records for the same customer, each with different contact information and order history. Once you manage to find the right account and the correct order, the shipping details and invoice information are stored in a completely different billing and fulfillment system that’s not connected to the CRM system. Later, when the customer complains about your product or service on Facebook, Twitter, and other online communities, you’re completely unaware of the fact that anything is wrong!

It’s easy to forgive celebrities like Elvis, Michael Jackson, and Amy Winehouse for their penchant for cocktails of exotic prescription painkillers. Few people raise their eyebrows these days when politicians (French or otherwise) are caught having extramarital affairs. And no one is surprised anymore when world-class athletes are busted for steroids and stripped of their titles. But for goodness sake, we still expect our CRM systems to work. After all, is nothing sacred!

Here’s the thing about CRM. Whether it runs in the server room or in the stratosphere… whether it’s single-tenant, duplex, or high-density residential… whether you rent it by the hour (in a seedy motel) or are married to it for life … whether you call it CRM or something completely corny like CX… whatever. To get real value out if it, your CRM has to be integrated with your other IT services including your telephony software, inventory management software, pricing software, billing system, order management system, and back-end fulfillment system, as well as your social media monitoring software. It doesn’t necessarily have to all be from one vendor; but it sure as hell better all work together!