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CRM Idol 2011 GO!

You may recall me mentioning a while back that I was participating as a member of the extended judges’ panel and mentor for CRM Idol. Well, the program is still going strong, and we’re about to move into the first judging phase. Everybody’s really excited, except for one contestant that dropped out rather abruptly, and late into the game to boot—but they’ve been replaced by a company from the waiting list that’s eager to catch up and undaunted by the disadvantage of a late start. Things are about to get REAL.

Rather than make you read the update on this page (because I hate cropping docs to work with my page formatting) I’ve provided a link here. I will tell you that, because of the response, the judging has been extended from two rounds to three. There are more prizes for the participants as well.

Track the #CRMIdol hashtag, stop by the contest site, and read the blogs of the competitors and judges to catch the latest news.

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Speaking of news, I haven’t given you much lately. Mostly, I’ve been focused on long-term stuff that didn’t fit well with regular updates, or on keeping my head down and hitting deadlines. I think I’m getting back to semi-regular posts now, because we’re now in Fall Conference Season. Except it’s not fall yet. Just go with me here.

Last week marked what I have come to consider the kickoff event for the autumnal phase of industry get-togethers: CRM Evolution. Three days of some of the top minds in the CRM business crammed into a hotel together, with no single vendor pushing the agenda. I happen to really like vendor conferences, but there should be more opportunities to meet on neutral ground like this.

Once again, CRM magazine (led by intrepid editor David Myron) put together a great lineup. This is where one goes to find out how the influencers are thinking, and set the tone of discussion for the next several months. Many connections were made and plans discussed. Things are looking up for me personally, and for the industry generally.

I hosted the Tuesday morning keynote panel, Innovations in Social Strategy. My panel was an absolute dream, consisting of Paul Greenberg, Ray Wang of Constellation, and Brian Solis of Altimeter. It went great, and I’m waiting for a link to the recording. I also got to join in on the closing session, a CRM Playaz segment where the guest was David Alston of Radian6 (now a Salesforce company). There were also no fewer than three video interviews of yours truly; as soon as I have links, so will you.

There was a lot of focus on SCRM, but it seemed that many people were shying away from the more traditional side. CRM is becoming a dirty word once more, and some vendors and thinkers are starting to shy away from it by applying alternate names and acronyms.  I’ve said it before, and it bears repeating: There is no SCRM without CRM. Connecting businesses and customers in dynamic ways for more natural conversations is huge—but the tools must be there for businesses to track those customers throughout the life of the relationship, respond to changes in the market, and retain consistent business practices. Businesses are in it to make money; customers are in it to get the best value—whether in terms of goods and services, or the quality of care and the feeling that they are more than just a wallet. Social CRM builds from traditional CRM, but doesn’t replace it. End of rant.

You should be able to find no shortage of coverage for CRM Evolution 2011—you can start by checking #crme11—but I’m linking you to Blake Landau’s wrap-up article because she’s smart, and also kinda cool. She also says nice things about me when I mention her, and that’s how this social thing is supposed to work, right?