My life as a consumer living among many other consumers gives me ample sources of inspiration for CRM. Yes, I have kept a focus on improving customer processes for almost 20 years. No, I don’t jettison the core of my research every time a fad rivets the minds of the CIO. I try to keep a couple of steps ahead of my clients so that they will rely on me for leading-edge thinking, but I also want them to do the right thing NOW.
Most of my futurist thinking has been overlooked for at least five years. I wrote about the new software model introduced by Salesforce.com in 2000 and 2001 to little interest. We called it ASP back then, but it took CIOs seven years to consider the new delivery model. I wrote about Social Collaboration almost seven years ago. You can check out one of my archived pieces of research, and it will sound just as fresh in January 2010 as it did in 2003 ( Mercury Interactive Delivers World-Class Customer Support, 14 November 2003, ID:CS-21-1110). But today the media and the hanger-on writers are all abuzz about “Social” and so our CIO community rushes in, at the risk of leaving behind the core of what they are out to do in the first place: build better systems to meet customer needs and demands. That is still CRM, the business process and strategy, wrapped in new clothing.
Why do I mention this? CIO Surveys pointing at project priorities show a decline in “CRM” as a top project. I don’t think that is what the CIO is saying. I think they are saying that they, as technologists, are focused on new tactics to help their customers (and we should keep in mind that the CIO’s customers are internal departments like logistics, marketing and customer service) get to the end customer, support that customer, and help sell move products and services at lower costs.
CIOs are not ditching CRM the business strategy. They are smarter and more business-savvy than at any previous time. They are educated enough to understand that CRM is NOT about technology. We can always find technology to support the process, and one of the core processes of top interest now is customer participation in the business. Social and CRM are joined at the hip, and there are exciting times ahead.