Posts Tagged ‘Denis Pombriant’

CRM Idol: Something Big for the Small Standouts

Monday, April 25th, 2011

Have you ever noticed how all the talk in the CRM sphere tends to focus on a handful of big names? The companies that have already achieved massive success and recognition (relatively speaking; I still need to explain the concept of CRM and SCRM to just about everybody I meet)? It seems there’s no room for smaller vendors to compete, despite the fresh approaches and innovative ideas they may bring.

That state of affairs is a thing of the past. Once again, Paul “CRM Godfather” Greenberg is shaking up the industry—he has masterminded CRM Idol 2011: The Open Season. As the name suggests, it’s something of a riff on American Idol, but with more talent and less drama. Entries are being accepted, starting today; more about that later.

A total of 60 companies (40 in North America, 20 in EMEA) will present their commercially-available CRM wares to a panel of judges composed of the greatest influencers, analysts, and journalists in the field (and also me). Finalists chosen from these vendors will create a 10-minute video presentation to fight it out for a choice of the top prizes.

The prizes, you ask? Several. Free consulting from members of the judging panel and other top minds in the field. Webinars conducted pro bono by the same. Subscriptions and/or beta access to leading CRM suites so partner applications and integrations can be developed. And the coveted free publicity, consisting of a joint product review produced and signed by the judging panel, released immediately through a huge list of media partners.

And since everybody’s a winner in a game like this, everybody gets the review. Like American Idol, though, there is a risk of the Simon Cowell experience—a weak product and a bad presentation will be reviewed appropriately.

But enough of my paraphrasing and editorializing—you want the meat of the subject. Here it is, straight from Paul:

The Idea

Most of what we’re trying to do was outlined in the pre-announcement announcement of CRM Idol last week. But it bears some repeating:

Small companies – at least in the CRM software related world – and that means social software world, in this case, too – abound. There are thousands of companies out there that are possibly innovative, possibly commercially viable in a big way, possibly the next big thing. But, as we said, there are thousands of them. And, no matter how great your product is, if no one knows about it, well, then, oops. Not a good thing.

These small companies are all making efforts to get into the ecosystem that could benefit them – one which includes investors, influencers, technology/strategic partners, media connections, etc. While getting support from this powerful ecosystem is by no means a guarantee of success, it can be enormously helpful in getting well down the road there. But, those small companies are often thwarted in that effort by either really bad PR people, or just the incredible amount of companies out there trying to reach into the ecosystem who are pummeling the small amount of influencers, etc. every week with requests to demo or talk.

Now, to be fair to the influencers, they are human beings with lives that aren’t built around supporting this one company that really thinks they are it. All they know is that each of them is getting between 20-50 requests a week to take a demo or conversation with someone who owns or represents a company they’ve never heard of and never talked to yet. In addition to those that they know. Often enough, they are pitched by a public relations person who is either inexperienced or not really good at their job who makes no effort to find anything out about the person that they are pitching to. So the influencer, journalist, venture capitalist gets a generic curve thrown at them that doesn’t even break over the plate – guaranteeing that the email is going to be discarded as a matter of course before the first paragraph is even read. Or it could be that on a particular day the influencer got 10 pitches and had a headache and didn’t want to see any of them.

As unfair as generic pitches and high volumes of noise are to the influencers in the highly desirable ecosystem we are chatting about here, it is a problem because what are probably a lot of good companies are never given a chance to move ahead because of the difficulties inherent in the process and the vagaries of bad luck on any given day.

Which is why CRM Idol 2011: The Open Season exists.

The concept is simple, small companies out there. If you meet the submission criteria outlined below, you will be given the opportunity, first come first serve, to secure a time slot on a specific day that will put you in front of some of the most influential people in the CRM/SCRM world. They will spend an hour with you in a demo to hear about your technology product – software only – and they will write a jointly signed review of what they saw of you – that will be published in multiple venues as soon as its written. It can be a good review, a bad one, a mix or indifferent. There’s risk on your part to be taken here. But it is something that you need to be aware of. The reviews will go up as soon as the 5 judge sign off on the final content. They won’t be exhaustive reviews but they will be opinionated and fair.

Forty companies from the Americas and twenty companies from EMEA (that means ONLY Europe, the Middle East and Africa) will get a shot at this – again first come first serve (more later on what that means). Of the 40 in the Americas, 4 finalists will be chosen. (NOTE: There will be an APAC edition hopefully late in the year or if not, early 2012, depending on the success of these two events. Sorry, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Logistics made it impossible at this juncture.) Out of the 20 in EMEA, 3 finalists will be chosen. Each of the finalists will be REQUIRED to do a ten minute video about their company and the product. Not a repeat of the demo but a video. Note I used the word REQUIRED here. Let me put it this way. If you make the finals and don’t do the video, we will publicly skewer your company. Know why? Because our judges are giving up what little free time they actually have in a summer to do this and it will take us 4 hours a day for 3 business weeks to do it. So if you can’t or won’t put in the effort to do the video, don’t bother to apply. Seriously. We’re trying to help out here and we want you guys all to succeed but it’s a two way street.

Okay, that rant out of the way. Once the finalists are chosen and the videos done, they will be posted online in multiple media outlets. They will be voted on in two ways:

    1. Popular vote – see, crowdsourcing is important. All the votes for the one winner from the Americas and the one winner from EMEA will be tallied from the public sites – in aggregate. That’s 50% of the vote.
    2. Extended Judges Panels – as you can see below, we may have assembled the greatest panels of judges – both leading vendors and influencers ever assembled in the history of CRM – not to be hyperbolic or anything. Each judge will select a specific winner in each of the Americas and EMEA from the 7 finalists. That’s the other 50% of the vote. The original judges will be voting as panel members.

The winners in each will get a major array of prizes, some of which are below, and be declared “CRM Idol 2011 Winner.”

Not too shabby is it? Vast amounts of media attention even if you don’t make the finals. If you make the finals at all, some prizes to you. The winners get everything that the ecosystem can offer but guaranteed success. But they do get all the accoutrements they need to support their increased likelihood of it.

That way, you small companies out there who have been victimized by bad approaches or just circumstance have the opportunity to bypass all of that and make something happen. It’s up to you to take the reins in hand but once you do, you have at least a serious chance at making yourself successful.

The Criteria

This competition is for small companies in the CRMish/SocialCRMish world. – see the categories below for some guidelines though please feel free to make the case if you don’t see yourself in the guidelines.

    1. You have to have software that is commercially available by the time of the demo – that would be in August – again see below. No betas, alphas, release candidates allowed. If we find that you’re not commercially available, and you have a time slot, you’re out and someone else will fill the slot. So please be sure that you can verify the claim if you want to participate.
    2. You have to have 3 referenceable customers that, if we care to, we can contact and ask about you.
    3. You have to have revenue under $12 million U.S. your last fiscal year. As far as disclosure goes, you have the choice of making the claim that you do – though that will have to be stated in your submission and we’ll trust you or you can disclose your revenue in the submission with the knowledge that only the permanent judges will know what it is. If you make the claim, please be prepared to back it up if we ask. Your call on how.
    4. You have to be willing to make a ten minute video if you get to the finals. More on that later.
    5. You have to fit a category – though there is some leeway there.

The Categories

The categories that we’ve identified to start are:

    1. Traditional CRM Suites
    2. Social CRM
    3. Sales - Sales Force Automation, Sales Optimization, Sales Effectiveness
    4. Marketing – Marketing Automation, Revenue Performance Management, Social Marketing, Email Marketing, Enterprise Marketing Management, Database Marketing
    5. Customer Service – all permutations
    6. Mobile CRM
    7. Customer Experience Management
    8. Social Media Monitoring – requires the possibility of integrating with a CRM technology
    9. Customer Analytics – including text/sentiment analytics; voice based analytics; social media analytics, influencer scoring, etc.
    10. Enterprise Feedback Management
    11. Innovation Management
    12. Community Platforms
    13. Enterprise 2.0 – collaboration, activity streams etc.
    14. Social Business
    15. Knowledge Management – this one requires the possibility of integrating with CRM systems
    16. Vendor Relationship Management
    17. Partner Relationship Management

Once again, if you don’t see yourself in this list, don’t worry. Just make the case as to why you have some customer-facing possibilities and the likelihood is that we’ll be cool with it. We’re trying to make this easier for you, not hard.

The Rules

They are numbered to be entirely clear.


    1. There will be 40 slots made available in the Americas and 20 in EMEA.
    2. The submission will be by email ONLY to: [email protected]. (See below to see this again and what to do if there are problems). Any other attempt at submission will be rejected out of hand with the problem exception mentioned below.
    3. The submissions will occur starting today – Monday, April 25 and will continue until Friday May 13 or until all slots are filled, whichever is first (watch #crmidol on twitter for updates on that as it occurs). On May 13, should any slots be left, the remaining specific dates and times will be made publicly available and another final round of submissions for those remaining slots will occur from May 13 through May 20. After that the submissions will be closed.
    4. Each submission will include the following:
      • Your company contact and named person contact information Two date and time specific slot requests. ONLY two. If your slots are not available, you’re out of luck until May 14 – and then you can resubmit to any time slots that are publicly announced as still available. Though there is no guarantee that there will be any available slots at that time. (see below for examples of how to submit the dates/times)
      • The category you feel you fit into - or if you don’t but think that you qualify – why.
      • A description of what the product is/the company is. Be persuasive here that you meet the criteria, not that you have a great product. This is merely a qualifying discussion. URLs cannot be used as substitutes for this description. The submission needs to be all inclusive. However, they can be used as supporting documentation.
      • The names of the three (3) referenceable customers – the company, the contact and the way to communicate with them – minimum of email and phone, please.
      • A statement that says that you meet the revenue requirement along the lines of “our company states truthfully that our revenues in our last fiscal year 2010 were under $12 million U.S”. OR you can state the actual number with the knowledge that the primary judges in each of the Americas and EMEA will treat it as under non-disclosure. But please be aware those designated primary judges below will see the actual figures if you choose to reveal them.
      • A statement that says, “if (you) make the finals, you are committed to making a 10 minute video for submission and public viewing as part of the conditions for entry.” Word it anyway you prefer but make the commitment clear.
    5. If you are accepted, you’ll be notified privately but it will be posted that you’ve been accepted on the Twitter #crmidol stream. The time will only be sent to you privately. Just your acceptance will be posted. Please allow some time between your submission and the posting of it to the hashtag and your private notification, since we all still have to work for a living.
    6. If you don’t include everything specified in the rules for submission, it means automatic disqualification and you cannot resubmit.

The Demo

The demo has few rules. Just be prepared to a. explain your company; b. show your product – live please c. answer questions from the influencers/experts. Not much more than that. I’m sure many of you are experienced at this already so wed don’t have to tell you this, but just in case… A site for the demos with login etc. will be announced to the timeslot owners in early August.

The Video

The standards for the video will be mentioned to the finalists once they are named. To rest any unease, you won’t be required to spend lots of money to get it done. How much you spend and on what will be up to you as will the content and how you present it. We’ll issue guidelines when the time gets near, including how the video is going to be distributed for posting and voting.

The Judges

Here are the lists of all the judges. As you can see, we have what is likely to be the heaviest hitting list in the history of anything done in CRM when it comes to awards or competitions. Click on their names to get to their LinkedIn bios. They are in alphabetical order.

Primary Judges

The Americas

These five judges will handle the 40 entries for the Americas which consists of the United States, Canada, South and Central America. They will all be involved in the one hour reviews each of the days over the two weeks and will jointly sign off on each review which will be posted to multiple media sites. They will also solely choose the four finalists for the Americas.

    1. Paul Greenberg – Managing Principal, The 56 Group, LLC
    2. Jesus Hoyos – Managing Partner,, LLC
    3. Esteban Kolsky – Principal and Founder, Thinkjar LLC
    4. Brent Leary – Managing Partner, CRM Essentials
    5. Denis Pombriant – CEO, Beagle Research Group


These four judges will handle the 20 entries from Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia etc. They will all be involved in the each of the 1 hour demos/discussions from Sept 5 through 9 and will write and jointly sign off on each review which will be posted to multiple media sites. They will also solely choose the three finalists for EMEA.

    1. Laurence Buchanan – Vice President, CRM & Social CRM, EMEA, Capgemini
    2. Silvana Buljan – Founder & Managing Director, Buljan & Partners
    3. Paul Greenberg – see above
    4. Mark Tamis – Social Business Strategist, NET-7


This is an exciting part of CRM Idol 2011. Each of these fine human beings has volunteered a day of their time – two during the finals and one with the winners – to provide the benefit of their experience to the contestants. What they will do is noted by their name. This is an awesome idea that Anthony Lye actually cooked up. Each of these mentors has decades of experience in the software and venture capital world and is considered a leader in the CRM space. So if you make it to the finals, you have the benefit of their knowledge and their valuable time. Amazing.

    1. Anthony Lye – Anthony will provide one day for the Americas finalists and one day for the EMEA finalists for consultation on how to best do the content for the contending videos and whatever other pertinent advice the finalists need. Anthony has had years of experience as a senior management person for enterprise CRM and a thought leader.
    2. Joe Hughes – Joe will provide one day for the Americas finalists and one day for the EMEA finalists for consultation on how to best do the content for the contending videos and whatever other pertinent advice the finalists need. Joe has been a leader in the CRM space for as long as we can remember and one of the more foresighted when it comes to the value of Social CRM
    3. Larry Augustin – This is a prize for the winner of EMEA and the winner of the Americas. Larry who has years of experience as an executive in the software space and has been a successful venture capitalist will work with the winner to prepare them for dealing with possible investors including doing a VC matching with the winners.

There will most likely be other mentors announced as the competition gets closer to the demo dates. We might try to make some mentors available to prepare you if you need them for the one hour demos but that’s still up in the air. We’ll keep you posted.

Extended Judges Panels

The Influencer Panel

    1. William Band – Vice President & Principal Analyst, CRM, Forrester Research
    2. Jim Berkowitz – CEO, CRM Mastery
    3. Bruce Culbert – Chief Service Officer, The Pedowitz Group
    4. Zoli Erdos - Publisher/Editor, CloudAve and Enterprise Irregulars
    5. Mike Fauscette – Group Vice President, Software Business Solutions, IDC
    6. Josh Greenbaum – Principal, Enterprise Applications Consulting
    7. Dr. Graham Hill – Partner, Optima Partners
    8. Dennis Howlett - Buyer Advocate
    9. Ian Jacobs – Senior Analyst, Customer Interaction, Ovum/Datamonitor
    10. Michael Krigsman – CEO, Asuret
    11. Marshall Lager – Managing Principal, Third Idea Consulting
    12. Kate Leggett – Senior Analyst, CRM, Forrester Research
    13. Maribel Lopez – Principal Analyst and VP, Constellation Research Founder Lopez Research LLC
    14. Jeremiah Owyang -Managing Partner, Altimeter Group
    15. Sameer Patel – Managing Partner, Sovos Group
    16. Scott Rogers – Customer Evangelist
    17. Robert Scoble – Managing Director, Rackspace Hosting
    18. Brian Solis – Principal, Altimeter Group
    19. Dilip Soman – Professor of Marketing, Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto
    20. Ray Wang – CEO, Constellation Research
    21. Mary Wardley – Vice President, CRM Applications, IDC

The Vendor Panel

    1. Larry Augustin – CEO, SugarCRM
    2. Anthony Lye – Senior Vice President & GM, CRM, Oracle
    3. Phil Fernandez – CEO, Marketo
    4. John Hernandez – General Manager, Customer Care Business, Cisco
    5. Jonathan Hornby – Director, Worldwide Marketing, SAS
    6. Joseph Hughes - Senior Executive, CRM Service, Support and Social System Integration Lead, Accenture
    7. Charlie Isaacs, VP, eServices and Social Media Strategy Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise
    8. Vinay Iyer – Vice President, Marketing CRM, SAP
    9. Katy Keim - CMO, Lithium
    10. Marcel Lebrun,- CEO, Radian6
    11. Mitch Lieberman, Vice President, Marketing, Sword-Ciboodle
    12. Chris Morace- Senior Vice President, Business Development, Jive
    13. Zach Nelson – CEO, NetSuite
    14. Bill Patterson- Director, CRM Product Management, Microsoft
    15. Dileep Srinivasan - AVP - CRM & Social CRM, Digital Marketing & MDM, Cognizant
    16. John Taschek –Vice President, Market Strategy, Salesforce

The Journalist Panel

    1. Elsa Basile – Director, Callcenternews (Argentina)
    2. Barney Beal – Managing Editor, SearchCRM,
    3. Anita Campbell – Publisher,
    4. Robin Carey – CEO, Social Media Today
    5. Neil Davey – Group Editor, Sift Media
    6. David Myron – Editorial Director, CRM Magazine, Speech Technology Magazine
    7. Valdir Ugalde – Board, Member, mundocontact (Mexico)
    8. Ann Van Den Berg – Senior Editor, CustomerTalk (Netherlands)

Media Partners

You’ll note that we have 8 journalists on a panel of judges. Well, each of them represents a media partner that will be broadcasting the competition and posting the videos for voting in the finals for the popular vote. They are an awesome array of the most influential media sites in social media, CRM, and small business as well as local influencers in CRM in Latin America and Europe. They will be significant in the lives of the contestants, the finalists, and the winners giving each what may be an unprecedented breadth and depth of coverage. Their coverage will be supplemented by posts to the blogs and other sites that are owned by many of the judges so there will be significant reach for all 60 of the initial contenders. Each of these partners will be getting exclusives from the judges and hopefully some of the companies too so that we can add a quality of coverage that would enhance the value to the SMBs participating. in all areas – CRM, social and small business directly.

We expect to add more media partners as we continue on throughout the competition.

The current partners and links to their sites (in alphabetical order, like every list here):

    1. Call Center News (Argentina)
    2. CRM Magazine/DestinationCRM
    3. CustomerTalk (Netherlands)
    4. Mundocontact (Mexico)
    5. Media
    6. SearchCRM
    7. Social Media Today

The Prizes…So Far

These are the prizes as of launch today. There are several others in the works that will be announced as the contest rolls out.

All Finalists

All 7 finalists will get to choose one day of consulting from the list of Influencer consultants below. The order of choice will be based on the popular vote on the video which will be kept confidential but used for the choosing. There will be more consultants added to the list as contest moves forward.

The Americas and EMEA Winners

Each winner will get to choose four prizes from the list. Note – in the case where multiple prizes are being offered by a single vendor – the vendor counts as a single prize with all the items as part of that.

    1. Accenture
      1. A full day workshop with CRM leaders in Accenture for possible partnership and/or possible investment.
    2. Capgemini (for EMEA winners only)
      1. A half day workshop with Patrick James, Global VP CRM and Laurence Buchanan to explore joint go to market opportunities and help you refine and test your value proposition.
    3. Social Media Today
      1. A blog post featuring the winner of the contest to run on both The Customer Collective and Social Media Today
      2. A single blast to the Social Media Today opt-in list (approximately 50,000 names) which will conform to their minimum standards (valued at $10,500)
    4. Microsoft
      1. 12 mos. of CRM Online Free for developing extensions to CRM
      2. 12 mos. of Windows Azure Free for developing web-based portals and BI solutions
      3. Access to the Office 365 Beta for building collaborative applications and services
      4. Access to the BizSpark One program -a program designed to connect emerging businesses and their investors with a Microsoft advisor to help them identify unique opportunities and expand its business presence
    5. SugarCRM
      1. Free 10 user subscription to SugarCRM Professional or Enterprise
      2. Membership in the Sugar Exchange and free consulting on product integration with SugarCRM
      3. CEO Larry Augustin, a successful venture capitalist in his own right, does a mentoring & VC matchmaking session with the winners
    6. Brian Solis
      1. One hour internal webinar on how to use SCRM and social media to your advantage
    7. Paul Greenberg
      1. One hour pro bono external webinar on a subject TBD for lead gen, mindshare, etc.
    8. Ray Wang
      1. One hour pro bono external webinar on a subject TBD for lead gen, mindshare, etc.
    9. Sameer Patel
      1. One hour pro bono external webinar on a subject TBD for lead gen, mindshare, etc.
    10. Influencer Consulting– free strategic consulting for 1 day or 8 hours from a variety of judges (in person travel expenses to be covered by winners)
    11. Esteban Kolsky (in person only)
    12. Paul Greenberg (on phone or in person)
    13. Denis Pombriant (on phone or in person)
    14. Mark Tamis (on phone or in person)
    15. Jesus Hoyos (on phone or in person)
    16. Brent Leary (on phone or in person)

The Times, Dates, Hashtag and Email

Okay here’s the hardcore stuff:

    1. The hashtag is #crmidol
    2. The email for submission is [email protected]
    3. If you have a problem submitting to that email send your submission and a report of the specific problem to [email protected]

Dates and Times Table for the Americas and EMEA

We’ve put together an easy little table with all the relevant dates and times that you’ll need as you progress through the competition.

Dates/Times Americas EMEA
Submission Dates August 15-19; August 22-26 September 5-9
Submission Times 3pm ET; 4pm ET; 5pm ET; 6pm ET 3pm GMT; 4pm GMT; 5pm GMT; 6pm GMT
Finalist Video Submission Date September 30 October 14
Winner Announcement October 17 October 31

A Note or Two

A little bit of unfinished stuff that will sort itself out as time goes forward.

    • There will likely be a CRM Idol site (Joomla based) coming in the next month or so that will be an aggregate site for all the media outlets and streams. However, this remains a work in progress that’s still under discussion.
    • There will be more mentors and prizes added and possibly a judge or two.
    • For now ongoing news will be found at the twitter hashtag #crimidol.

In Closing

That’s about it. Now its time to bring it. First come, first serve. See you, maybe as the 1st ever CRM Idol, in Vegas, Hollywood. London or on the Social Web. Somewhere anyway.


  • Share/Bookmark

Sage Moves Forward with Cloud Services, New CEO

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

[Edited for some small inaccuracies. My bad.]

I recently had the pleasure of attending Sage Analyst Day 2011, hosted in Boston on February 9, 2011. A select group of industry watchers got to hear about plans for Sage North America in the coming year, especially its CRM product line.

One early order of business was to announce (reiterate, actually) the pending retirement of Sage North America CEO Sue Swenson later this year, after nearly three years of service. While I didn’t get many opportunities to speak to Swenson directly during her time with Sage, I was impressed with her focus on moving her division forward, and her success in achieving her goals during a bad stretch for the global economy. The company returned to revenue growth in the second half of 2010 under her leadership.

This summer (the guess is mid-June) Swenson will hand over control to CEO-designate Pascal Houillon, a 20-year Sage veteran who has served as the head of operations in several European countries. His stated primary goals are to match the company’s product line with its customer base more effectively; to make the Sage brand better known on this side of the Atlantic; and to return the company to making acquisitions as opportunities present. Likely targets are Web-based and connected services vendors, as well as regional specialists.

Your ears might have perked up at that last bit about connected services and Web services. I know mine did. Sage has been inching toward the Cloud for a few years now, but it looks like the pace is about to accelerate.

Sage Advisor

The first piece mentioned was Sage Advisor. Users of Peachtree—sorry, Sage Peachtree—will recognize it from a function they’ve had access to for four years. Advisor is a cloud-based data mining tool and recommendation engine, collecting more than 500 data points and using them to provide advice to the user. The advice is delivered (depending upon context and preferences) via Sage employees, a virtual assistant, and in-product chat.

Sage Advisor exists to “create a personal connection to Sage brands for every user,” according to the company. It’s not just about selling more software to expand Sage’s footprint with its customers; Advisor can point out existing (read: already-paid-for) capabilities that aren’t being used and could help with a given task, and can also tell users how to turn off certain functions to streamline their workflow.

Many of you read the words “virtual assistant” and had a bad flashback to Clippy, Microsoft Office’s much-maligned helper. Sage Advisor appears to be much less intrusive, and the company claims more than 90 percent of its Sage Peachtree customers are opted in to the service.

Another function of Sage Advisor is to provide client data to Sage and its partners about usage patterns, third-party applications in use, system specifications, popular reports, and more. Sage predicts this could increase close rates for partners 60 to 70 percent.

Sage Connected Services

Connected services is Sage’s umbrella term for discrete applications provided to its customers (both on-premises and SaaS) via the Cloud. Many will integrate through SData, Sage’s new open-standard Web protocol which allows front- and back-office applications to communicate better with each other and with other apps.

This will be a major area of expansion and advancement for Sage, adding capabilities from the cloud in a modular fashion to serve up what customers need. Payment services, legal counseling, tax compliance, lead generation, and shopping carts are just some examples Sage provided.

Services will be delivered within the main Sage application, with Sage Advisor identifying and suggesting appropriate apps, making it something of an app marketplace. Because SData is an open standard, there is a large opening in connected services for third-party providers, and for integration with non-Sage products. Look for a Google Apps integration very soon.

Acceleration Squared

Sage’s foray into cloud services creates an excellent opportunity for growth, if it can manage the potential chaos. With SData, Advisor, and connected services all turned on, Sage partners and customers will have greater access to the company than ever before, and that’s saying something. Demand for new functions and new products can be watched in real time, and the delivery time is considerably reduced. Sage will be drinking from the firehose in a way that only SCRM- and cloud-savvy companies can; if it uses that information and the dynamic strength of an involved community, we will see a very different Sage by this time next year.

For another (and quite excellent) discussion of Sage North America’s Analyst Day, see Denis Pombriant’s recent article for CRM Buyer. Denis has been watching Sage for longer than I have, and he’s one smart cookie.

  • Share/Bookmark

Still Evolving

Monday, August 9th, 2010

Last week a lot of very smart people gathered in New York for CRM Evolution 2010, and it was fantastic. Let’s start with kudos to conference chair Paul Greenberg and CRM magazine’s David Myron for putting together a great three days. As reported by Paul, the show’s attendance was nearly double the previous year’s for the second time in a row.

It’s not just numerical growth that encourages me, though of course greater attention to the disciplines and technologies of CRM is always a Good Thing. Who attends these things is at least as important as how many. The link to Paul’s ZDNet blog I gave you in the last paragraph should give you an idea of the brainpower in attendance, and these folks weren’t there to sniff around—they came to teach and to learn, to make alliances and discuss plans. The link, and those found when you follow it, probably do a better job of summarizing the event than I can hope to, but I have a few thoughts anyway.

There was a different buzz in the air than there has been in previous years, a feeling that our efforts are coming together into something greater than the sum of their parts. Social CRM is a movement now, not a fad or a trend.

The structure of the conference changed this year as well. CRM shows are typically arranged along three tracks: Sales, Marketing, Customer Service. Sometimes there’s a Strategy piece thrown in, or a nod to Social CRM/Enterprise 2.0, but it’s usually all about the three main silos CRM has struggled to break down. This time, the tracks were Traditional CRM, Social CRM, and Implementation. Each track had a fair amount of conceptual overlap with the other two. It acknowledged that these are not areas that can truly be separate, that there will be interplay and it will be beneficial. I’m not always comfortable with separating social CRM from the traditional brand, since they are interdependent and it perpetuates the belief that CRM is a failure, but this year’s structure worked for me.

The down side to the three tracks and the relatively small size of Evolution 2010 was—honestly—too much goodness in too small a space. There were several times when no matter which session I chose to attend, I was guaranteed to miss something excellent in the other rooms. Fortunately all the track sessions were recorded, so I can spend the rest of the month catching up.

I’ll need that month, because I missed a lot of good content; not just because of crossed schedules, but because of all the meetings I took. No matter where you went, people were busy getting the word out about new applications and services. I heard enough to make me very optimistic about the future. I also did a lot of socializing, but never at the expense of learning. My colleagues and my friends are increasingly the same people, so how can I complain?

  • Share/Bookmark

So Much Happening in CRM

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

It has been a busy couple of weeks for followers of CRM, Social CRM, and all that goes along with it. I haven’t got my head around all of it yet, but I’ll provide a handy link-dump at the end of this post to give you some starting points. It’s good to know that even when there’s more happening than I can reasonably cover, I can always link to my friends.

I’ve just returned from BPT Partners‘ Social CRM Summit (search the hashtag #scrmsummit to see some of what went on) where I had a great time refreshing and expanding my skills. Paul Greenberg—friend, mentor, mensch—was at the helm as usual, and it never ceases to amaze me that he always has something new to say on the topic of social CRM.

I don’t want to say too much about the specifics, since this is professional development and I need to be able to sell the result of what I’ve learned instead of giving it away, but there was a lot of emphasis on usable business strategy. A few years ago, social media strategy for business amounted to, “Get involved now, because this is gonna be huge.” It was good advice in 2006, and it’s still good, but we’ve had a lot of time to refine our techniques since then. With the addition of social media monitoring and analytics, it’s possible to make a really solid business case for SCRM adoption.

Catching up with friends and meeting new ones is always a benefit at events like this. Brent Leary even showed up—the trip from his neck of the woods to ours wasn’t trivial, even if it was in the same state—to say hi and let me talk smack about his alleged free throw skills. There was an escalation, and something tells me we (along with Mike Boysen, Mitch Lieberman, and others) will be putting it on the line to shoot from the line in the near future for bragging rights. I don’t care how bad I do, since basketball is my anti-sport, but as long as I outscore Brent I’ll be happy.

A few days before heading down to Atlanta (actually Kennesaw, which is near Atlanta in the same way that Northampton is near London), RightNow Technologies held a launch event here in New York for RightNow CX. I provided a lot of my thoughts on the company’s new social platform in October, but I want to reiterate that this looks really good. While history may show that CRM got the most traction among sales professionals, today’s customer-driven social CRM has a natural starting point in customer service and support. RightNow, with its contact center pedigree, is definitely one to watch here They’ve got some great customers, including CBS Interactive,, MySpace, and Aircell (the gogoinflight people), that show off what a natural fit SCRM is when grown in contact center soil.

A few days prior to that, I took a call with Clare Dorrian of Sword Ciboodle to discuss the company’s direction and new offerings. Ciboodle is more of a traditional CRM vendor (which is fine), serving larger enterprises. It also has strength in the contact center—I love the look of Ciboodle One, its new unified agent desktop—and is further building out its work flow and Web self service capabilities to capitalize on that. I just got hold of some of Ciboodle’s customer case studies, so that should give me some fun reading over Memorial Day weekend. (That’s not as sarcastic as it sounds; I have genuine interest in some concrete examples of how the company is helping businesses.)

And now the link dump. Actually, it’s more of a shout-out to two of my friends, but since they write so much and so well, it can serve both purposes.

Denis Pombriant (previously mentioned here) has been extra-prolific with his blogging lately, with a lot of coverage from Sage Insights among other things. Wish I could’ve been there, but this is the next best thing. See all of his May content here.

Ray Wang, now of Altimeter Group, got to see what was up at SAPPHIRE 2010, the big annual SAP conference that I would also have loved to attend. He’s also been banging out a lot of news coverage, especially where acquisitions are concerned (SAP and Sybase, IBM and Sterling Commerce, Lithium and ScoutLabs, Attensity and Biz360). See his blog here.

  • Share/Bookmark

What’s the Real Value?

Monday, March 1st, 2010

It’s important for us to stay current with the best thinking in the CRM industry, which is why I try to read the output of my friends and colleagues as much as possible. After falling behind a bit—there’s a lot out there that my blogroll doesn’t cover, must update—I ran across this excellent piece of opinionizing by Denis Pombriant, founder and principal analyst of Beagle Research Group.

Denis is without a doubt the world’s second smartest beagle. (Sorry man—I have a long-standing loyalty to Snoopy.) Clear thinking and the ability to look at the long-term effects of short-term actions make him a great source, and if I have nothing useful to say, I can always direct people to him. As usual, he’s spot on with his comments, so I’ll only add a few thoughts.

When Denis writes, “Too often in early markets customers buy market leading products regardless of their merits and vendors accommodate this need by bragging about market share,” he shows how eager so many of us are to follow the herd. Basing a business operations decision like CRM on market share is the grownup’s version of “all the cool kids are doing it.” It’s fair to include measurable market share—not necessarily leading, just on the charts—as one criterion of the buying decision, but it’s something that should be graded pass/fail. I might not even include it on my list unless there’s likely to be pushback from shareholders worried about where their money is going; there’s a place for small vendors, and not just for catering to customers with tight budgets.

Speaking of tight budgets, there’s this: “[T]ightness in the credit markets has caused a significant amount of demand destruction and that has changed the terms of selling.” I’ve been saying it for years, but it bears repeating that it’s much more important right now to hold onto existing customers than to find new ones. If you know what you need your CRM for—and you’d better—then you have a good head start on picking your vendor criteria. Allow yourself to be guided by what will provide the customer insight to keep your regulars on the balance sheet.

Kudos again to Denis for rocking the smarts.

Our Hero

  • Share/Bookmark

Oracle Open World 2009, Day One

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

It’s Tuesday, thus time for Monday’s bloggery. I pretty much failed to liveblog Oracle Open World’s keynote, but at least it wasn’t through my incompetence; spotty WiFi and simultaneous Twitter overloads and outages conspired to keep me mostly silent, and the rest of the day had me on the move too much to post for you.

So many things happened Monday at oracle open world, though to be honest I think the day needed to accelerate before it got really good. The morning keynote led by Charles Phillips and Safra Catz was fairly sedate, as it felt like there was no binding force between the many segments. To be fair, I missed the Sunday night keynote due to personal burnout, so it’s entirely possible that Larry Ellison-a man I’ve never heard speak in person-really did the setting of tone last night and Monday was the start of the “business” part of the conference. Esteban Kolsky pointed out that there was an undercurrent of unrest in the room (something you never want when there are more than 10,000 people), and his tweets really captured the flow of the morning. He had much beter WiFi connectivity than I did, and seemed less affected by the problems experienced by Twitter, so I recommend checking out @ekolsky to see all the stuff I wanted to liveblog. Props to Esteban.

There were two stand-out segments, though. One was with Anthony Lye, which (and whom) I’ll come back to in a moment. The other dealt with retail, particularly “fast fashion” as implemented by H&M.

I have no use for the store or its brand, but I must say that the way H&M is using Oracle technology to change the way the apparel industry works. Any apparel business can (and should) use CRM and ERP technologies to make their purchases more efficient, but that still uses the antique method of basing inventory decisions solely on the debut of fashion “seasons” that might be nine months ahead of actual time. Fast fashion is a step beyond. Presenter Duncan Angove and an associate whose name I missed explained how H&M uses it to spot current trends and new products and act on them every month, perhaps even sooner. Combined with dashboards linked to regional maps, this means H&M can put what items will be most likely to sell well in each individual store, change out stock efficiently, and entice customers with promotions as needed to keep sales coming. Smart business and satisfied customers.

Now to Anthony Lye, who gets the other allotment of props for Monday. His part of the keynote delivered what the entire session should have done: a real tactical and strategic sense of how enterprise apps (like CRM) fit into a company’s efforts to increase efficiency and profitability, but without ever forgetting that it’s all about the customers and what you can do to make them not just content to do business with you, but happy enough from doing so that they encourage others to do the same. He didn’t stop there, either; he led two sessions later in the day that drilled even deeper into modern customer engagement strategy, and both were spot-on. His first had him and his team demonstrating how the Siebel CRM family is helping Oracle customers find their way in social CRM via cross-channel, experience-driven business practices. Very sharp. Then he put two powerhouses-Paul Greenberg and Denis Pombriant-together to discuss social CRM and cloud computing. A session with either Denis or Paul is always worth the time; both of them plus Anthony is more than most can hope for. The conversation was lively, though Anthony’s questions did seem (understandably) to support Oracle’s mostly-on-premises model. Regardless, Anthony Lye is everything Oracle needs in a CRM exec: he’s sharp, relatable, works well with the rest of his team, knows the industry, never forgets the customer, and is a pleasure to speak with. This man needs a raise.

More to come after today’s happenings, and I’ll try to post my thoughts in a more timely maner. No promises though; I still owe you my impressions of a great social CRM dinner I attended with Tealeaf last week revealing its latest customer experience survey results. Great stuff, and I want to do it justice, but I feel funny about the time delay.

  • Share/Bookmark