It is not too soon to call the end of the business process known as CRM as we have known it. It is the “Management” word that kills it. When Sun Tzu writes The Art of War somewhere in sixth-century China, he outlines the need for discipline around defining the challenge, creating a plan of attack, engaging the enemy force in decisive terms. Whether you follow Tzu or General Patton or Frederick Taylor, we still boil management down to strategies and policies, actions, analysis, and recursive steps to improve our mission, our vision, and our goals.
Enter “Social Networking” and Social Media and Social CRM, on the heals of business philosophers declaring the failure of Customer Relationship Management efforts. The latter was weak analysis of business application deployments that failed to meet the promises dangled by the large consultancies that made billions of dollars selling the projects. Now businesses are dancing to the Trance music of Social. The rhythm is enticing, but there are just too many beats per minute for most business leaders: monitor, listen, poll, feeds, Tweets, posts, mobile platforms, Tablets, forums, crowd sourcing, voting, outside-in processes. Businesses are attempting to onboard all of these new Social Media tools and processes, and keep your ongoing customer efforts for marketing, sales and customer service, while moving all of the business applications supporting the existing customer initiatives to the Cloud.
This is why I see an end, temporarily, to the CRM that was in place for 12 years. Organizations have come to the tacit (not stated, not explicit) conclusion that they cannot accomplish the goal of managing the customer relationship centrally. The resources cannot be rallied because there are too many parallel initiatives under way, and decision making has devolved on departments and geographies to meet the onslaught.
The end of CRM classic does not mean the beginning of another clear trend. It is more likely that organizations will re-focus on an expanded definition of CRM that includes the Social dimension. The need for the corporation or business or organization to think holistically about the customer will not go away. The current fascination with myriad departmental initiatives to meet changing customer demand at the expense of ownership at the top level comes at a cost. Without a roadmap you won’t get there unless you are lucky. And ‘there’ is a state of customer satisfaction with your business.
Are you seeing something similar? I’ll expand on some of these points next month, but it has been coming up with IT planners on client calls and meetings.