In the 1920s the wonderful science fiction writer Edgar Rice Burroughs published a pretty weird but fascinating book called The Land that Time Forgot. It reminds me quite a bit of where we are with most business application software in the CRM space. In the book the era is post-The Great War, and in the story two enemies, the British and the Germans, are marooned and brought together as strange bedfellows and allies when they come ashore on an island inhabited by a bizarre menage of tribes. Each of the clannish tribes that the Brits and Germans encounter is frozen at a different stage of human evolution, and it shows in the various weapons they carry – stones and hatchets, bows and spears and such. The castaways build a fort which they name Fort Dinosaur.
Why, one might ask, do I think of this book now? Maybe because I am working on both the 2012 Customer Service CRM Contact Center Magic Quadrant, and because I am releasing two pieces of research on the concept of the Customer Engagement Hub. Looking simultaneously at what is now and where I think things might go in the planning horizon, it is pretty clear that the newer technologies, like the aggressive innovators who adopt them, are barricaded inside of Fort Dinosaur, going out for forays against the less evolved status quo applications and innovators.
What this means is that there is tremendous power in the new generation of technologies such as Cloud CRM applications, edge technologies for social engagement, mobile interactions, embedded devices, and analytics. And there are “Type A” organizations and/or departments that are trying these out. But advances are slowed in part by the technology infrastructure into which all of these new bits must fit. The technology stacks that underpin the majority of banks, insurers, government, airlines, et al, were developed in the late 1980s and 1990s. When they were adopted it was a wonderful break from the past. Now we had relational databases, fast networks, tweaked ledgers and supply chain software. But as my uncle would have said: what have you done for us, lately? Each of these legacy bits are like those tribes, each represented by their weapons of choice: the relational database, the client-server application, the point-to-point middleware.
In real life this interesting book became a rather poor film. Let’s hope that the migration of IT resources into the fabric of the business function will help us all move our innovative projects forward. It takes a lot of resolve for a CIO to buck the status quo and say, for example, that we are entering a ‘post-relational database age’ or that the ‘top to bottom enterprise stack is not the best approach for our business.’
Thank you all for the many great stories and examples on how you are breaking down some of these barriers and getting innovation happening in your customer-engagement strategies. If you are a client and want to read my new piece on the Customer Engagement Hub, you can find it here: http://www.gartner.com/resId=1920720
I’ll see many of you in a couple of weeks down at the Gartner Customer360 Summit ( http://bit.ly/gLhUKZ). I look forward to seeing you, and also to listening to Seth Godin.
Category: Applications CIO Cloud Contact Center CRM Gartner Customer 360 Summit Innovation and Customer Experience Leadership SaaS and Cloud Computing Social CRM Social Software Strategic Planning Uncategorized Tags: