I’ve been looking at process as the next big thing in CRM for a while. It only makes sense for several reasons. First as we move to conducting increasing amounts of business online, we lose the intimacy of personal contact between vendor personnel and customers. In their place we need accurate and authentic processes that treat customers in ways they appreciate.
Also, the plethora of new and emerging technologies anticipates this reality. The only way to make sense of it all is to imagine all of it working together to support automated processes rather than transactions. From capturing customer data and analyzing it for behavioral signs, to journey mapping that defines processes that customers want (based on their behavioral data) it is clear that process is ascendant.
But there is a potential concern when it comes to integrating all of the new technologies. Point to point integration will leave us not much better off than we were when all of our apps ran in a company’s data center and legions of IT pros kept the seams from leaking. The same thing can happen with cloud solutions and that we haven’t seen a lot of stories about spaghetti in the cloud suggests that buyers have been prudent and that they are paying attention to the implications of platform.
There are a few vendors with platforms that are worthy of the description, you know who they are. Others use platform to mean almost anything. For clarity, I would say that a platform has to provide a great API, lots of apps written for the platform, and lots of users. Key to this is the need for apps. Apps written to the standards of the platform make integration without heartburn possible.
Just like when hardware standards get promoted and any subsystem maker can build to the standards with an expectation of near perfect integration, platform provides the same service. But with this other changes take place. Platform makes for a plethora of suppliers easily capable of swamping demand for goods with their supply. When this happens, and it always happens, vendors and their customers seek higher value and for software this means the growing importance of process.
In the not too distant future I think we’ll see a relative de-emphasis of focus on the shiny new object in favor of each vendor’s vision of process support and that will be a major shift. You can already see it in the renewed interest in vertical market solutions that are nothing but stocked with specific process templates. But it won’t come all at once. There’s still a lot of the front office that’s resistant to process in most of its forms. For instance, many sales reps still use SFA as if it were nothing more than an electronic filing cabinet. They grudgingly add customer data once a week or when they need to get an expense check. Meanwhile they keep everything else in their heads juggling deals and getting the results they get, which aren’t always wonderful.
I see process most concretely supported in the subscription industry where customer data is all that most companies have to figure out what to offer and support. For them, studying customers and crafting processes is second nature involving metrics with normal ranges. A business that understands the normal range of metric data from its customer base can forecast good and bad things like the need for an upgrade and potential attrition. Best of all, such a business can use these advanced signals to make a difference in outcomes.
So over time, and a short amount of time to be sure, I expect we’ll see businesses orienting toward processes to be more successful than those that remain wedded to a transaction orientation. This is not to say that every business’ attempt at process management will be a success but even a failed process, when managed correctly, which means the parties remain engaged, will beat a failed transaction. When a transaction fails often the business has little clue about it which results in frustration and even anger for the customer and that’s not a long-term approach to customer retention.
So even in this sultry summer when many people have vacations on the brain more than the next great wrinkle in CRM the wheels are turning. Process is the new demand focus and platform is the way to get it.
I have never reprinted someone else’s press release but this is an extraordinary one at an extraordinary time. What good is having a blog if you can’t do something like this? How many CRM vendors will add their comments by the end of the day?
BREAKING: Major Corporations Announce Support for Landmark Federal LGBT Non-Discrimination Legislation
WASHINGTON – In advance of this afternoon’s introduction of the historic Equality Act in Congress, today 3 major American companies announced their support for comprehensive federal non-discrimination legislation that would establish full, federal equality for all LGBT Americans. Each of the leading corporations – which include Apple, The Dow Chemical Company, and Levi Strauss & Co., – released the following statements making clear that they believe all LGBT Americans should have the protections from discrimination in federal law that they deserve.
STATEMENT BY APPLE – “At Apple we believe in equal treatment for everyone, regardless of where they come from, what they look like, how they worship or who they love. We fully support the expansion of legal protections as a matter of basic human dignity.”
STATEMENT BY THE DOW CHEMICAL COMPANY – “Dow applauds the introduction of the Equality Act and continues to support a comprehensive federal framework that ensures fairness and opportunity for everyone. Full inclusion of our LGBT colleagues and citizens is quite simply the right thing to do – for business and for society.”
STATEMENT BY LEVI STRAUSS & CO. – “Levi Strauss & Co. is proud to support the Equality Act. We have a long history of supporting LGBT equality, and the time has come in this country for full, federal equality for the LGBT community. Ensuring fairness in our workplaces and communities is both the right thing to do and simply good business.”
Each of the three major companies scored a perfect 100 on HRC’s annual Corporate Equality Index (CEI), a nationally recognized benchmark of LGBT inclusion in the workplace, and were recognized on HRC’s list of Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality in 2015.
“These remarkable companies have proven once again their tremendous leadership on behalf of LGBT Americans,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “Time and again, these leaders of Corporate America have asked ‘what more can we do?,’ and each time they’ve stepped up to the plate and delivered. As the fight for full, federal equality enters a new chapter, I am tremendously thankful that we have these champions standing shoulder to shoulder with us.”
Earlier this year, over 120 prominent leaders in the tech industry called on “legislatures to add sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes to their civil rights laws and to explicitly forbid discrimination or denial of services to anyone.”
Yesterday, Ted Olson and David Boies, the bipartisan legal team that represented the plaintiffs in the Hollingsworth v. Perry case that challenged California’s Proposition 8, and was ultimately heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, came out in support of a comprehensive federal LGBT non-discrimination law.
The results of a new Democracy Corps survey from Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research released yesterday indicates that support for non-discrimination legislation unites the country. Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of likely Republican voters support protecting LGBT people from workplace discrimination, as do 90 percent of Democrats. Similarly, this legislation draws impressive majorities of support among college (84 percent) and non-college voters (73 percent), younger (85 percent) and older voters (75 percent), as well as observant Christians (70 percent).
In March, polling conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner for the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) revealed that nearly two-thirds of LGBT Americans (63 percent) have faced discrimination in their lives, with LGBT people reporting workplace discrimination as the most frequently experienced form of discrimination.
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. HRC envisions a world where LGBT people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.
TechCrunch is running a story saying that Altimeter Group, the analyst firm founded by Charlene Li in 2008 after leaving Forrester, has been bought for an undisclosed amount of cash or stock or whatever. It was undisclosed after all. The acquiring company, Prophet a consulting firm, is focused on marketing, design, and brand strategy.
Seems like Altimeter, as an analyst firm, was already into that kind of stuff using its research to advise customers and now, the two companies together will hopefully have more oomph. I wish them all well but have to wonder what the back story is.
An acquisition like this suggests to me that there’s a relative over supply of analyst firms out there. Perhaps we’re in an analyst bubble where the top few firms are garnering most of the opportunity. That would mirror the economy as a whole, more or less. But while the marketplace is still exploding with new ideas and product categories, there is less that’s net new and made from whole cloth and therefore the top firms have the ability to cover new wrinkles.
Cloud computing, SaaS, and before that hosting, were so different that they presented a break with the established data center paradigm and they legitimately required analysis from a different perspective. But today’s innovations seem more like line extensions, businesses are building on top of the cloud-front office-platform- social-mobile-analytic infrastructure rather than inventing new frameworks.
This has made it hard to be a scrappy mid-size analyst firm with staff, overhead, payroll, and rent issues to deal with. Medium and emerging businesses often try to get the attention of the largest analyst firms hoping a placement in an authoritative report will provide some measure of market clout. At the same time, end users are loath to pay for analyst advice preferring to read what the bigger firms put out as sponsored research thus leaving less work for the smaller analyst firms.
Solo practitioners without some of the overhead of the mid-size firms are able to make a living by being opportunistic but there are indications that the field is also crowded. To net it out, the deal for Altimeter is not surprising—other smaller analyst firms have taken the same path. It is more of an indication of where we are in a cycle and it may be a sign of things to come.
I never knew there were so many CRM blogs out there but @NGDATA found 50 and stack ranked them including Beagle. It’s always nice to be included in such listings. Interestingly, I publish on several of the outlets mentioned so it’s kind of a win/win. Of course buddies like Paul Greenberg, Esteban Kolsky, and Brian Vellmure are also featured. What kind of list would it be without them?
Esteban Kolsky and I are trying to push the envelope and better understand the complexities that go with bringing together best of breed SaaS solutions. Your insights will help our research and because the survey is only 10 questions you’ll be back into vacation mode pronto. So please click this link and tell us what you think!