To be a strong leader in today's demanding business climate takes honesty, integrity, intelligence, perseverance, vision, strong-mindedness, and more. All of these qualities woven together create a presence, an aura surrounding an individual. It is truly an area where the whole is more valuable than the sum of its parts.
The optimist in me would like to believe that most individuals have doses of all of these qualities, but there are very few true leaders among us. I know many honest and intelligent individuals, however, I wouldn't follow them through a car wash. I also know a few tough and brave souls who need a calculator to break a $20 bill. The fact is, in this business, in order to get people to rally around you, to believe in you, to follow you, an individual must have the right mix of all of these assets. They must exude confidence.
Webster's definition of a leader is "a person who has commanding authority or influence." Using that definition as a cornerstone, if someone were to ask me why I believe in the CRM market so much, I would point to some of the top executives leading the industry as the main reason. I truly believe a company's strongest asset is its executive team and its people. Throw all the market data out the window regarding the expected growth of CRM and take a simple look at the individuals heading CRM companies and you will realize this is where the opportunity and excitement are.
To name a few, PeopleSoft's Craig Conway (see "No Fear," page 28), Siebel's Tom Siebel, Pivotal's Bo Manning, and Salesforce.com's Mark Benioff are all smart, focused, and strong leaders. You may not agree with everything they say, but you can't deny their effectiveness. These bold and brash CEOs remind me of the PC industry 15 years ago, when folks like Jim Manzi of Lotus, Philippe Kahn of Borland, and Microsoft's team of Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer shaped the market not only through revolutionary technologies, but through their styles and attitudes. They were fierce competitors who used every pulpit to evangelize their companies and their industry.
During a recent exclusive interview with CRM, Conway wasted no time in making it clear that he believes PeopleSoft is in the right place at the right time, and he is not afraid to say why. Siebel still holds the number one market-share position, but Conway is more concerned with SAP. He also didn't flinch when asked about Microsoft's upcoming CRM release. PeopleSoft has its own set of challenges upgrading more customers to PeopleSoft 8, increasing its licensing revenue, and penetrating new accounts, but Conway is confident the company will succeed in doing all of these things. And after speaking with him for an hour and a half, it was hard to argue.
Anyone who has ever seen Siebel, Manning, or Benioff speak to a group know they are just as passionate about their companies. Their presence alone is a reason to believe in the future of CRM. Strong leaders. Strong companies. Strong market.