• August 24, 2007
  • By Coreen Bailor, (former) Associate Editor, CRM Magazine

Get Ready For the ''Digital Client''

NEW YORK -- Updating customer strategies to more effectively cozy up to always-on customers was the center of the closing keynote here Wednesday at CRM magazine's destinationCRM 2007 Conference
. During the keynote, "The Future of CRM: Beyond Real Time," Barton Goldenberg, president and founder of ISM, a CRM and e-customer strategic advisory firm, described the history of the industry: In the first era (1980-2000), sales force automation evolved into CRM, essentially integrating customer service, sales, marketing, e-business, and analytics capabilities into a more comprehensive offering, while the second era (2000-2007) saw the emergence of real-time CRM. CRM in real time, according to Goldenberg, has allowed three things to emerge:
  • a common set of integration sockets enabling companies to interconnect different systems and services;
  • a common process engine; and
  • real-time analytics.
And the proven impact of CRM, according to Goldenberg, is primarily based on three reasons: Better understanding of CRM. A clearer definition of CRM is a business approach that applies sales, marketing, customer service, e-business, and business analytics tools and techniques in support of an organization's business strategy. "People understand that the tighter we can link CRM tools and techniques to business direction the greater impact we'll have." Several elements of CRM are functionally rich, including time management, sales/sales management, telemarketing/telesales, customer contact center, marketing, e-business, field service support, business analytics, supply chain management, multimodal access, and data sharing tools. Better understanding of blending people, process, and technology. "During the mid- to late-90s the vendors in this industry overpromised and underdelivered," Goldenberg said. But "what the vendors have [now] understood is it's just no longer about technology. It's 80 percent about people and processes and if you over emphasize technology, your CRM initiatives will fail. The key success factor is understanding this mix and understanding that it is not the same mix throughout the entire implementation, he said. "There are times when technology is more important than 20 percent, there are times when it is less important." Solid value proposition. Goldenberg also reviewed several generic factors that he likes to see in a CRM business case, such as enhanced productivity, lower costs, superior employee morale, better customer knowledge, higher customer satisfaction, and improved customer loyalty/retention. What this has led to, Goldenberg said, is what he defines as the third period of the history of CRM--the "Digital Client Era," which relies heavily on the concept of business-in-an-instant. Goldenberg slices the Digital Client group into two generations: Gen X and Gen Y. During his presentation, he focused particularly on the latter: There are more than 75 million Gen Yers in the U.S., he noted, adding that in just eight years Gen Yers will comprise almost half--45 percent--of the world population. Additionally, he maintains, members of this cohort know only digital technology and are digitally connected on average 8.5 hours per day. Moreover, 90 percent of Gen Yers research items online and 50 percent use the Web to buy items. This group, in Goldenberg's assessment, contends that "it's a God-given right to be always-on, always-connected." There are several trends, according to Goldenberg, that are taking shape thanks largely to Web 2.0 capabilities like blogs, wikis, video, RSS, and podcasts:
  • always-on, always-connected is the norm
  • individual interconnectivity blossoms
  • self-publishing explodes
  • information playing field gets leveled
  • filtering becomes sophisticated
  • niche aggregation predominates
  • balance shifts from producer to consumer
  • new brand extension opportunities arise
CRM, he added, is being redefined by companies and products such as Salesforce.com' AppSpace, NetSuite's SuitePhone, and Microsoft's CRM online communities. "The world has already begun to change in CRM as a result of Web 2.0," he said. In addition, some major developments--such as whether B2B buyers are also digital clients, if your company can benefit by being proactive, if digital clients want to work for you, and how soon digital clients will become chief buyers--can't be ignored, Goldenberg said. "You can't duck," he added. "So get ready now." CRM magazine's second annual user conference, destinationCRM2007, wrapped on Wednesday. Related articles: The Rise of the Digital Client Catering to this new breed of always-on customer will require a new approach to CRM. CRM at the Tipping Point The renowned author of The Tipping Point and Blink speaks at destinationCRM2007 about how CRM can break the barrier and make its way to success. Reflecting the CRM Wave of the Future Industry consultancy ISM announces the eight winners of its real-time CRM awards, applications that are delivering noteworthy capabilities as the clock ticks. The State of CRM: Strong and Healthy An industry luminary and keynote speaker at the destinationCRM 2006 conference champions real-time CRM as the muscle that will push CRM to new heights. The 2.0 Effect At destinationCRM2007, author and futurist Stan Davis outlines the influence that Web 2.0 is having on companies and their ability to service and sell to the next generation of consumers. Best Practices: 10 Tips to Online Community Success Well-defined structures and roles are key to maximizing community involvement in Web 2.0 initiatives such as forums, blogs, and chats; a destinationCRM2007 exclusive. Web 2.0: Secure Now, Succeed Later A new Gartner report says Web 2.0 technologies will force businesses to reconsider their approaches to security.
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