At our 1999 Gartner US Symposium I gave a presentation during which I said that 63 of the 80 software vendors that I was discussing in the CRM space would change ownership within six years. It turned out to be just about right – I under-estimated. Following new software markets is like following Odysseus out of Troy – a Cyclopes will definitely eat a few of the original 500+ sailors, and Laestrygonians will certainly bash most to bits in the narrow harbors of the niche player.
Along comes the new space: Social CRM. Over 100 vendors, and likely not more than four will emerge as an independent company – if that. But it is not too soon to start thinking about where they will go. What class of vendor is best suited to pick them up? Think about the markets today: contact center infrastructure, web customer service, workforce optimization, unified communications, social software, and business applications for sales/marketing/service. How do the pieces best fit together?
Vendors do not always succeed when they buy pieces that do not fit into their core sales model, regardless of the goodness of the asset acquired. Think about IBM with Early, Cloud. Or SAP and Wicom. Oracle and Telephony@Work. Nortel and Clarify. Avaya and Quintus. Maybe if we think about the DNA of the sales organizations at these companies we can see the future of Social CRM.
Examine the different product types I listed above and see if you see the pattern. Infrastructure for interacting with customers. Infrastructure for interacting amongst employees. Infrastructure for customers to interact with customers. And then business applications to market/sell/support the customer.
Early conclusion? Business applications vendors will need a change of DNA to get social stuff right, and this is unlikely for most. All the others will need a conversion to galvanism to sell CRM-oriented software. Also unlikely. We are likely to see a lot of failed attempts during the consolidation phase. Social software will likely find the best home amongst the most enlightened of the business application players, but many will sell out to the infrastructure vendors. The latter group will struggle to make the change in orientation.
What do YOU think?
Category: applications crm customer-centric-web innovation-and-customer-experience it-governance leadership saas-and-cloud-computing social-crm social-networking social-software strategic-planning vendor-contracts
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