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The CIO’s Frustrating CRM Journey

by Michael Maoz  |  February 11, 2013  |  1 Comment

Often when listening to a CIO talk about technology and top priorities, I have the feeling that I have been pulled through to the set of the wacky 1999 classic, Galaxy Quest. For those of you who might remember this bizarre but intoxicating film, a loopy bunch of over-the-hill sci-fi writers are abducted by aliens. The Aliens have watched the TV series about Outer Space written by the writers. The Aliens think the writers are brilliant, and they feel that with the help of the writers they can overcome their Space Nemesis, the Sarris.

About now you are wondering: are all of the wheels on the bus? You be the judge of that, but the point is, when I listen to a CIO who is convinced that Big Data and Mobile technologies, and Social Platforms are just the ticket to advancing business, at first it sounds compelling. Then, digging a bit further, one realizes that they are relying on a lot of technologists who have demonstrated over and over again that they have little empirical grasp of what a “Customer” or a “Prospect” or an “Influencer” is.

I was reminded of what great can look like reading an obituary today of  John E. Karlin, the famous Human Factors engineer who did so much ground-breaking work on how to dial a telephone. We still use his basic layout when we dial a standard phone. He was just brilliant: a professional violinist, a doctorate in mathematical psychology, an electrical engineering. And more importantly, he was joined at the hip with the end consumer of technology. His teams always had real humans to probe and question and challenge them. He would watch them, listen to them, analyze their wants and needs and expectations.

Compare that to your CIO. Usually he/she has no respect for a term like customer relationship. Doesn’t think it can be managed. Doesn’t want to sit and talk to the customer. Well, hardly ever. Instead, 98% of the time is spent with folks removed from the day-to-day customer. And just as bad, cut off from prospects, or former customers who have defected. Or from the folks in Corporate Communications who listen and analyze the customer experience.

You know who the CIO’s frustrating CRM journey is most frustrating to? The end customer. And when you meet that exceptional CIO who really gets it, it is always the same: they are right there, rubbing elbows with customers. Like the great technologists at Fidelity Investments R&D centers, or at Starwood, or Amazon, or Tesco, Bank Leumi, and dozens of other places.  They are bringing together ethnologists, psychologists, BI experts, Human Factors folks, and examining what makes a customer walk away with a feeling of satisfaction and trust.

Does this sound like you? And if you are not the CIO but the VP of Marketing, Customer Care or Social Media, are you working in tandem to create create processes? A ten minute conversation with a CEO basically answers that question: when she/he gets it, it happens. Otherwise? Otherwise it is Galaxy Quest.

By the way, after two years, we updated our research on creating a Social strategy for CRM: How to Establish a Social Strategy for CRM (if you are a Gartner client you can follow the link here: ). Also, I hope to see some of you at the Gartner BPM Summit, 2 – 4 April 2013 at the National Harbor, in Maryland ( I’ll be speaking, and so will many of my favorite colleagues.

Category: analytics-for-social-crm  applications  cio  crm  innovation-and-customer-experience  it-governance  leadership  social-crm  social-networking  social-software  strategic-planning  

Michael Maoz
VP Distinguished Analyst
13 years at Gartner
26 years IT industry

Michael Maoz is a research vice president and distinguished analyst in Gartner Research. His research focuses on CRM and customer-centric Web strategies. Mr. Maoz is the research leader for both the customer service and support strategies area and customer-centric Web… Read Full Bio

Thoughts on The CIO’s Frustrating CRM Journey

  1. […] a blog post, recently lamented the growing divide between the analysts leading CRM efforts and the customers they affect. A good CIO, he argued, ought to consider the actual customer over the abstract idea of the […]

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