The CRM space is no longer a struggling concept eager to prove its worth--but even a maturing market relies on a handful of thought leaders to champion its core values and spearhead innovation. CRM magazine's Influential Leaders are the executives and industry pundits with the strategy, product line, or visionary thinking needed to drive the market. Here, we (alphabetically) spotlight those people whose actions have reverberated throughout the industry and have laid a firm foundation for future growth.
Principal analyst, Forrester Research
The staff of CRM relies heavily on the analyst community for insight on what's going on in the industry and what these changes will likely mean. While no one person can do it all, this year we'd like to turn an appreciative spotlight on William Band, a principal analyst with Forrester Research.
Not only does Bill help us out with his volumes of research and his judgment of the wisdom of corporate maneuvers; he's important to the management of Forrester's CRM practice itself. He's often directing the efforts of his analyst colleagues, working with them, and expanding on their research to create best-practices guides for Forrester's clients.
Bill has been helping organizations define customer-driven strategies to achieve distinction in the marketplace for his entire career. Prior to joining Forrester, Bill held leadership roles in several consulting and systems integration firms, including a stint as managing director of CRM strategy with BearingPoint. Earlier in his career, he was a partner with both Accenture and Coopers & Lybrand Consulting. He is the author of two books: Creating Value for Customers: Designing and Implementing a Total Corporate Strategy and Touchstones: Ten New Ideas Revolutionizing Business.
For his timeless and tireless efforts to make CRM mean something, we name William Band to our cadre of Influential Leaders.
Chairman and CEO, Salesforce.com
With Marc Benioff--notorious for his unyielding efforts to promote the on-demand delivery model--at the helm, Salesforce.com has evolved into more than the poster child for on-demand CRM functionality. The company continues to add CRM capabilities, true--but Salesforce.com has also been expanding beyond CRM, with this year's introduction of Apex, an on-demand platform that enables third parties to write code that runs on the company's multitenant architecture, and the growing popularity of AppExchange, its application-sharing service.
In addition to Apex, the company teamed up with Google to produce Salesforce Group Edition featuring Google AdWords, enabling small and midsize businesses (SMBs) to advertise online; released an integrated on-demand tool for partner relationship management and sales force automation; and previewed Salesforce SOA, which will let users build applications powered by Apex's services-oriented architecture. And that's just a partial list of the company's efforts over the past several months.
Benioff, a CRM magazine Hall of Famer, has also ramped up his pursuit of other coveted opportunities. Although the company's roots are in the SMB market, Benioff has had his troops branch out, appearing more frequently on the enterprise landscape. The clearest sign yet of Salesforce.com's growing high-end presence came in February with the announcement of a 25,000-seat deal at Merrill Lynch, a win that also highlighted Salesforce Wealth Management Edition, the company's first vertical-specific application.
This year, the firm surpassed the $600 million mark in annual revenue--progress toward its eventual goal of a $1 billion year. With Benioff in the driver's seat, that target doesn't seem so far away.
Frederick F. Reichheld
Director emeritus, Bain & Co.
Just about anyone who runs a successful business has heard of, and probably uses, the Net Promoter score as a measure of how his or her company is serving its customers. So just about everyone is familiar with the name Frederick F. Reichheld--or they should be. Fred invented Net Promoter along with Bain & Co., where he is director emeritus and founder of the loyalty practice, and Satmetrix.
Net Promoter is a brilliantly simple metric: the percentage of customers who are highly likely to recommend your company or products, minus the percentage of those who are unlikely to recommend your company or products. Despite the utter simplicity--or perhaps because of it--Net Promoter's effects have reached far into the business world. CRM vendors have been falling over themselves this year to include the measurement in their applications.
Reichheld started as a consultant with Bain in 1977, and rose through partnership and directorship until becoming the first Bain Fellow in 1999. His work on the subject of customer loyalty earned him a spot in Consulting magazine's 2003 list of the world's top 25 consultants, and high praise from BusinessWeek, Fortune, The Economist, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. CRM proudly joins that list by naming Reichheld an Influential Leader.
Cofounder, chairman, and CEO, SugarCRM
SugarCRM continues to lead open-source CRM, and John Roberts leads SugarCRM. Under Roberts' leadership--he was one of three cofounders--SugarCRM spent the last year bringing to the marketplace innovative functionality and solutions that have helped tackle many of the hurdles to open-source adoption.
In October 2006, SugarCRM unveiled SugarExchange, a marketplace of community-built applications and extensions, and other SugarCRM packages and components, such as integration and infrastructure software, for organizations. SugarExchange showcases community-built products preapproved by SugarCRM for production deployment, allowing customers to download free, open-source software offerings, including lead and contact management, e-commerce, and Web self-service solutions. These capabilities also play into another of Sugar's innovative strengths, as SugarExchange products can be deployed either as software-as-a-service through Sugar On-Demand or behind a company's firewall through Sugar On-Site.
In May, SugarCRM added support for customer self-service and a knowledge base for internal use to manage structured and unstructured data. Its Customer Self-Service Portal release allows organizations to add an outward-facing component, and gives customers a self-service channel that allows direct access to the core CRM system.
These developments continue to be reflected in the marketplace, with Sugar becoming the first-ever open-source CRM vendor to be ranked as a leader in the Forrester Wave report for midmarket CRM offerings. After more than a decade spent in the trenches with CRM applications--at E.piphany, BroadVision, Baan/Aurum Software, and IBM--Roberts has the necessary experience with proprietary software to be able to preach the open-source gospel with conviction, and his use of that pulpit makes him one of our Influential Leaders.
Senior vice president of product management and marketing, Google
Search-engine and paid-search marketing became a scorching-hot topic over the last year, as companies have looked to become more e-savvy--and Jonathan Rosenberg is a big reason for it. The 18-year industry veteran oversees the teams that manage Google's innovative product portfolio and go-to-market strategies. In this role, Rosenberg directs the development, improvement, and customer acceptance of all of Google's products, from consumer offerings to business services. As the 800-pound gorilla, Google's influence on search-engine marketing and Web analytics is unmatched in the software industry, and under Rosenberg's guidance, the company has expanded its product portfolio with new offerings such as Google OneBox for Enterprise, Google AdWords, and Google Analytics.
Google AdWords and Google Analytics have become two of the most sought-after integrations in the CRM market, as the software's ability to provide users with insight into keyword popularity, email campaign success, and page clicks has led to a laundry list of integration with top Web analytic and CRM vendors, including Entellium, NetSuite, Salesforce.com, and WebTrends, to name just a few.
Google's success and influence within the CRM market hasn't been limited to online marketing. Rosenberg leveraged the company's expertise in search functionality to release Google OneBox for Enterprise in April of last year, allowing corporations to search across multiple applications like corporate contact directories, CRM, and financial software. OneBox debuted with a set of modules for a slew of CRM-related vendors, including Cisco, Cognos, NetSuite, Oracle, SAS, and Salesforce.com, to extend the enterprise search capabilities of their respective products.
Rosenberg's pre-Google history--he came to the company in 2002--includes time with some of the Internet era's big names: He was the founding member of @Home's product group; handled online products at the merged Excite@Home; and managed Apple's eWorld product line. He even helped develop one of the early online ranking engines, so he knows what it means to wield influence; being one of our Influential Leaders ought to come naturally.
General manager, Microsoft Dynamics CRM
Brad Wilson first made a name for himself in the CRM industry by holding several senior roles at E.piphany, including vide president in product marketing and technology alliances, and serving as PeopleSoft's worldwide vice president of marketing. Now, about two and a half years into his role as the head of global product management and marketing for Microsoft CRM--responsible for driving awareness, demand, and revenue for the unit--Wilson continues to make his presence felt. Dynamics CRM continues to pick up steam in the market, and not just with the SMB crowd: It has more than 10,000 customers and 400,000 end users, with an increasing number of enterprise-grade companies coming aboard.
He's also no stranger to this list: An Influential Leader for the third consecutive year, Wilson's been a driving force behind Microsoft's efforts to become more agile. Not only is the company prepping the release of a hosted offering, Microsoft Dynamics Live CRM, for later this year, but it also has another full upgrade of Dynamics CRM (code-named "Titan") due out. Titan will introduce a multitenant architecture--a single code base to support not just on-premise deployments, but software-as-a-service (SaaS) deployments, as well, through hosting partners and through Microsoft itself.
Other recent Microsoft initiatives under Wilson's watch include: the releases of two prepackaged solution accelerators designed to simplify the integration of Dynamics CRM with ERP and CRM applications from other software vendors; and Dynamics CRM Analytics Foundation, shared-source tools for real-time performance management, reporting and ad hoc analysis, and predictive analytics.
Helping to guide the world's largest software company toward SaaS and integration, two of the biggest issues facing the CRM industry--that's why Wilson remains one of our Influential Leaders.