What is XRM?

3. February 2022

Digitalization Servitization

The world is becoming more and more connected: “Anything that can be connected will be connected”. This also means that the relationships within a connected world are becoming increasingly complex, so that classic concepts and logics are no longer sufficient to deal with this complexity in a meaningful way. The era of the Internet of Things, the connection of all physical objects that, to put it simply, have an “on” and “off” button, is unstoppable. To be prepared for this, so-called Extended- or Anything-Relationship-Management (XRM) systems are becoming suitable. These systems offer the possibility of managing not only customers and contacts, but also things such as equipment, devices, machines, plants, buildings or vehicles – the basis for IoT. But what exactly is behind the term “XRM” and how does it help to turn companies into digital champions?

What is Extended- or Anything-Relationship-Management (XRM)?

The term Extended- or Anything-Relationship-Management (XRM) is based on the logic of Customer Relationship Management (CRM). Whereas in CRM the focus is on customers, in XRM the central element are things – e.g. machines, plants, buildings or vehicles. More precisely defined, XRM refers to the systematic design of an organization’s interactions and relationships with existing, purchased and operated or already sold things from an installed base. The goal of Anything-Relationship-Management is to simplify relationships with equipment and to digitize associated processes – in service, sales, marketing or maintenance and servicing.

What is Extended or Anything-Relationship-Management (XRM) software?

Similar to CRM software, XRM solutions usually offer three large modules for service, sales and marketing. This means that XRM software can also be used to digitize connected processes in service, sales and marketing relating to equipment. At first, these things or devices do not necessarily have to be connected in the sense of the Internet of Things. In many cases, XRM software is primarily used to map information on all equipment-related processes and to digitize the underlying processes so that they can be used by all parties that have access to the XRM system. As described above, the goal of XRM is to exploit the potential in the business processes around it. The XRM software serves as a tool for this.


Why do traditional CRM systems not work ideally for the age of IoT?

Relationships in the age of IoT are more complex. These are not just about customers and contacts, but about things. The missing things in CRM logic is an exponentially growing problem, as all things will be connected in the future. Of course, large CRM providers can rebuild such solutions through complex and costly customization. But this is not cost effective for most small and medium sized companies.

How does XRM software work?

In addition to pure master data, XRM reflects all interactions between customers, service partners and equipment, e.g. via email, telephone or other channels. Moreover, the XRM software can automatically incorporate further information about activities and store details, such as special features of e.g. machines, with regard to service, maintenance and repair. Managing service requests, documenting them and creating maintenance plans are also supported by the XRM software. The XRM system structures all this information in a clear way, giving you a comprehensive overview of things, people and companies, and helping you to understand your installed base better and better over time. In summary, XRM software helps you to have full control of your installed base with a 360-degree view and to digitize upcoming processes in a contemporary way.

The importance of XRM

Things and equipment exist in all kinds of industries. One important example is machine and equipment manufacturing, which employs over one million people. Anything-Relationship-Management (XRM) is a central key to the digital future as everything revolves around things such as machines and equipment and thus XRM provides the basis to advance step by step into the era of IoT.

This is how different parties in your company benefit from Extended- or Anything-Relationship-Management (XRM):

Service and after-sales back office…

… benefit through digital service processes from reduced administration, better knowledge of the installed base of things in the field and the ability to spend less time entering data. This leaves more time for actual service.

Service and after-sales field service, service technicians and assemblers…

… quickly gain a complete overview of the installed base. For example, by scanning a QR code located on a machine, technicians receive the entire digital history file and can thus tailor maintenance, servicing and repair to the respective history. This saves time and resources and results in the best possible service.

Operator and maintenance teams…

… benefit from increased efficiency through digital workflows in maintenance and repair. The XRM system makes it possible to fill out forms digitally, e.g. for maintenance work and makes information from an equipment’s digital lifecycle file available centrally at any time. It also makes it easier for maintenance teams to keep track of preventive maintenance and servicing tasks, thus minimizing downtime.

How to benefit from a XRM system

The central collection and structuring of things, contact and company data in the XRM system brings a number of advantages:

  1. More efficient service, maintenance and repair processes around things
  2. Faster response times in the event of downtimes
  3. Faster resolution of downtimes through digital service workflows and ticketing
  4. Longer life cycles of the installed base through proactive service
  5. Fewer downtimes through preventive maintenance management
  6. Central knowledge database for all things
  7. Greater user-friendliness through a central, digital point of contact for all stakeholders and quick access via QR codes
  8. The basis for connecting things as soon as this is possible, both technically and organizationally
  9. Automation based on a live data connection, e.g. based on operating hours

With the help of XRM software, you can manage the data flows of your things across a wide variety of channels and organizations. Information from manufacturers, service partners and operators is managed in a central solution and optionally made accessible depending on approval. In this way, service can be digitized and optimized.

How Anything-Relationship-Management (XRM) differentiates from other software solutions:

First of all, the Anything-Relationship-Management (XRM) system was developed specifically for more complex relationships such as for the age of IoT. It picks up some functions from the systems described here and thus represents an intersection:

  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM): deals with the entire planning, control as well as implementation of a company’s customer relationships. A CRM has similar functions as the XRM system. The main difference is that instead of things here customers are in the center.
  • Enterprise Asset Management (EAM): describes the asset management of a company. The aim is to optimize the use, productivity and utilization of these corporate resources by using suitable EAM software.
  • Asset Performance / Lifecycle Management: taking various measures that optimize asset performance and availability. The aim is to increase productivity and efficiency, improve quality and make processes safer.
  • Geographical Information System (GIS): includes systems for acquiring, organizing and analyzing spatial data, which includes the hardware, software, data and applications needed to do so.  
  • Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS): describes a computerized maintenance system used to optimize maintenance activities. In doing so, the system supports the maintenance department by collecting information and distributing tasks.
  • iBase Management: Application for data management of an installed base, e.g. of equipment, which collects, controls and analyzes data from different sources. For example, patterns or trends in complex data sets can be detected. 
  • Fleet Management: refers to the management, planning and control of fleets, e.g. a vehicle fleet. The focus is on minimizing costs and increasing efficiency.
  • Workforce Management: Software to increase transparency and efficiency in the areas of manufacturing, industrial service, maintenance and assembly & commissioning. 
  • Tele / Remote Service: enables the provision of technical services from another location, usually via telecommunications networks. For example, the maintenance of equipment is to be supported via video telephony or remote access. 
  • Field Service Management: refers to the management of companies’ resources and aims to harmonize the flow of service processes, especially in the field. 
  • IoT Platform: enables the networking of devices and applications via the Internet of Things (IoT) in order to implement an exchange of information. The application forms the interface between different systems or things so that data can be managed centrally.

To recap, here are the key points from this article on XRM:

  • The definition of XRM (Anything-Relationship-Management) is the systematic design of an organization’s relationships and interactions with existing things purchased or operated or already sold from an installed base.
  • XRM is important because it significantly simplifies the day-to-day lives of manufacturers, service partners and operators around things like service, maintenance and repair.
  • XRM software provides a 360-degree view of an installed base and its activities. It serves as a central point of contact to digitize processes around things, such as machines, plants, equipment, buildings or vehicles and to make them better, easier, more efficient.

We would be happy to show you in an online appointment how we are already helping other companies to improve processes around their equipment with the remberg XRM software.

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