CRM Idol

  • October 22, 2015
  • Last week Salesforce Ventures said it would invest $100 million in emerging salesforce partners in Europe. The company previously announced a similar program for the Americas and the hope is it will discover valuable new companies and business solutions.

    Paul Greenberg and the team at CRM Idol (of which I have been a part) have been doing the same thing trying to discover interesting emerging companies in the CRM space for several years now, minus the money. But even without millions of bucks at stake, the casting call always brings in some cool ideas from around the world so I have no doubt there are plenty of companies in Europe that will vie for a chance at an investment.

    This is just one more example of how Salesforce is growing beyond the original CRM space. The company is looking for emerging vendors that will do amazing things with its Salesforce1 platform bringing cloud computing into new markets. That’s the way Salesforce will continue to grow—by selling generic seats of its service configured for specific markets by partners. Of course, this won’t slow the company’s own efforts at penetrating vertical markets but it adds a new dimension.

    Salesforce needs to stay close to emerging companies right now to best understand where innovations are coming from. As a multi-billion dollar enterprise it might be becoming a captive its own success necessitating finding another way to stay close to the grass roots. With a 7 billion dollar run rate it needs big new deals to keep the growth engine humming and that means developing new partners and whole markets.

    This happens to every successful business but often the company in question either doesn’t see itself becoming hemmed in by its own success or it chooses to ignore it. Microsoft was a case in point; it was tremendously innovative until it couldn’t embrace cloud computing for fear of upsetting the Windows franchise. Consequently it went on to miss big new markets like the smartphone and today has a small share of that market. As that company is becoming aware, it’s hard to get back on the curve once you fall off. I wouldn’t rule out Microsoft because they have a lot of cash and a determined CEO who is trying to turn things around. But still.

    So Salesforce is telling Europe that its innovations in tech are just as important and potentially valuable as those from America. The big question now is will the Europeans take up the challenge. I am sure there will be contenders for all that money but my question is whether there will be any blockbuster apps. The history of the tech paradigm hasn’t favored Europe, after all. Europe didn’t compete in CPUs, storage or really anything preferring to take what the U.S. innovators offered up. Back in the day I remember that the Russians directly copied the Digital PDP-11 CPU set including some errors that made things go sideways once in a while.

    I know some really smart people in Europe who understand cloud computing, social networking and all the rest but they tend to work for big companies or governments. The idea of starting a company has many challenges and the European nanny state political structure doesn’t make entrepreneurship easy.

    At the same time, some of the most interesting innovations in our space leverage data, especially personal data in ways that some Europeans find objectionable. Some studies I’ve seen from Pew Research and McKinsey indicate that conservatism about personal data handling loosens up in younger demographics so I guess we’ll need to wait and see.

    Ten years ago, Charles Murray published Human Accomplishment: The Pursuit of Excellence in the Arts and Sciences 800 BC to 1950, it was a good read and not nearly as nerdy as it sounds. The book revealed a huge number of innovations and innovators in all subjects that came out of mostly northern Europe over a more than thousand year span but the continent hasn’t had a lot to crow about in tech.

    Maybe Salesforce is playing a hunch; maybe they know that the onus is on European entrepreneurs to pitch some good ideas. Will it play out as “A Tale Of Two Cities” or maybe “Waiting for Godot”?



    Published: 8 years ago

    Ok, it’s that time of year and you know what I’m talking about — CRM Idol voting!

    The judges and contestants have been toiling away since there were green leaves on the trees listening, watching, evaluating and replying all in the effort to find one hot new company that is the IT company of this fading year.  We’ve boiled it all down to five finalists from the strongest field of contestants we have ever had and now it’s your turn to judge.

    There are five videos, one from each finalist company.  The videos explain each company and the way they influence how business gets done.  Your job, should you decide to do it (And you will because you hate the idea that you’ve read this far and would otherwise waste some valuable time if you decided not to, and also because it’s the holidays and what else have I asked you to do this year?  Hmmm?) is to watch each video (they are about 4 minutes each) and vote for your favorite.  Then watch for the announcement of 2013’s CRM Idol between the holidays.

    Here are some links.

    There will be a place to view all the videos in one spot at both CRM Idol (  Otherwise the individual URLs for the videos are:




    Cirrus Insight:



    Thank you too much! And happy holidays!

    Published: 10 years ago

    What are you waiting for???  Just click this link and you’ll be in business.  You only have Till COB on Friday so don’t procrastinate!

    You’ll be happy you voted.

    Published: 11 years ago

    All year, it seems like, we’ve been running CRM Idol, the contest started by Paul Greenberg to identify hot emerging companies in the greater CRM space.  We are now down to voting for finalists and this is where you finally get the chance to make your ideas known.  Time to vote.

    This year’s crop of contestants, and especially the finalists, was exceptionally strong.  These companies are all well deserving of the venture capital that they’ve already raised as well as what will be showered on them after the voting is over.  We could tell right away that this year’s crop was a cut above last year’s — and they were pretty special, too.  But the companies in this year’s contest really, really get it.  They are laser focused on social and its many tentacles into CRM.

    But social is not the only thing on the menu.  We’ve seen an impressive array of automation that goes from various forms of analysis to clever virtual agents.  So, when you vote think about all that and also think about how three of the seven finalists come from parts outside of Norte America.  That’s right, this is a global event these days.

    So let’s get to it.  To vote go to the CRM Idol site here and please, s’il vous plait, por favor, puhleeze! watch the video that each company made to describe to you the business problem they solve, how they do it and what customers think of it.  Then read our judges reviews of each company.  Figure you need to spend about 30 minutes to do this job right and we need you to be conscientious about it.

    Don’t worry if you can’t get it all done in one sitting, we know what it’s like to live in these distracted times.  But come back if you need to, make some notes to yourself.  Rule some out before making your final selection if it helps (just like taking the SATs).

    So, go vote, it will do you some good.  It will show you where the market is moving.  It will also help some very talented emerging companies to sharpen their ideas and offers.  Most importantly, I’ve come to see Idol as the premiere community building activity in the front office.  You don’t see ERP vendors doing this, or HCM or any other branch of software (OK, maybe gamers have something equivalent but that’s not business, it’s entertainment).  It’s one of those things — like Dreamforce — that makes CRM such a hip and vibrant place to hang your hat.  Click here to get going. 

    Thanks! Gracias! Prego! Much obliged, pardner.

    Published: 11 years ago

    So, just about a month after Dreamforce, is coming to New York for one of its regional Cloudforce conferences.  The event will be at the Javitz Center in Manhattan on October 19.  Salesforce is expecting six thousand attendees.

    The focus of the event is supposed to be on the newly re-announced Marketing Cloud — the amalgamation, so far, of Buddy Media and Radian6.  I will be briefed under NDA about the news to be announced at the event but that hasn’t happened yet so, hey, let’s speculate.

    As many of my colleagues have suggested, the Marketing Cloud is a good and important down payment on a full-featured marketing component but it is heavily weighted toward social marketing.  They expect more acquisitions primarily to beef up the Marketing Cloud’s lack of a conventional marketing campaigns element — the kind that runs traditional marketing programs.  I am not so sure.

    Salesforce already has a bevy of more or less conventional marketing partners in the AppExchange like Eloqua, Marketo and others.  It’s true that these vendors are not monogamous but so what?  They have good connectors and integration and are doing everything they can to carpet bomb, er, I mean cover, the Salesforce installed base so why buy what’s free?

    My instincts (which are right about half the time — and less when I’m driving according to my wife) tell me that Salesforce is going in another direction.  The company has always exhibited a Blue Ocean Strategy approach to its business seeking out niches that haven’t been named and I expect it to do the same in marketing.

    That means they’ll concentrate on the myriad ways to market in the social world.  If they make an acquisition — and I bet there’s nothing on the radar right now — it will be to beef up social marketing not conventional stuff.  That would mean companies like HubSpot or Awareness or Nearstream or others (some in the CRM Idol contest) that use a healthy dose of new age thinking and social media to access and communicate with customers.

    So, what to look for in New York?  In addition to October baseball, I think you’ll see elaboration of the basic message doled out at Dreamforce.  The San Francisco session was packed with information and image-making and there really wasn’t time to unpack all of what the Marketing Cloud means for customers.  I think Cloudforce is the place where the unpacking will happen.

    Salesforce has been great at three-pronged marketing for a long time.  That’s where they tell you what they’re going to tell you, then they tell you and finally the circle back to tell you what they told you.  I think they’re at part two and Cloudforce New York will be more of a deep dive.

    I could be very wrong but that’s what it means to speculate.  Right?

    Published: 12 years ago