Collision Course
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This month's cover story, by Managing Editor Danna Voth, looks at the growing concern over customer privacy in the Age of CRM. Concerns are growing about the use of personal information gathered by CRM systems, particularly over the Internet, and many observers contend that savvy companies will make a selling point out of protecting their customers' confidentiality. Hey, it works for Swiss banks.

It strikes me as interesting that the customer privacy story is followed closely by a feature by Contributing Writer Phillip J. Britt on measuring the performance of call center employees.

The privacy article notes that thousands of IBM employees protested when Amazon.com posted information about their reading preferences on its Web site-as a guide for other high-tech workers looking for a good read. Question: How many of those IBM employees logged on to Amazon on company time? (Not like you or I have ever done it...yeah, right.) More to the point: How many of them have a manager clocking their phone calls and Internet activities, and how do they feel about it?

Privacy legislation is already impacting the way multinational companies use customer information in Europe. Concerns about privacy are certainly legitimate, and it would not be surprising if such legislation is passed in the U.S. It seems likely that this heightened concern will eventually turn to employer-employee relations as well.

At the same time, a company's ability to monitor employees' work is becoming more sophisticated, and competition puts every business under pressure to demand the highest standards of productivity from its workers.

At some point the two are going to collide. And in a workplace where technology is making everyone more and more of a free agent, your workforce is going to expect the same right to privacy from their own companies that they expect from the companies they do business with.

As you work to build your own technology-enabled business systems, consider the impact on all your stakeholders, from customers to business partners to your own employees.

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