• June 1, 2007
  • By David Myron, Editorial Director, CRM and Speech Technology magazines and SmartCustomerService.com

You Drive Intelligence

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We've warned our readers countless times that they shouldn't expect CRM software to be a business panacea. For the most part, the warning has worked--organizations are more knowledgeable about what to expect from their CRM technologies and, as a result, CRM success stories abound. However, I'm concerned that some may have taken this advice to mean that if CRM isn't a business panacea, then perhaps a subsequent technology will be. I've noticed an unfortunate eagerness to apply this all-encompassing responsibility toward analytics and business intelligence apps. A recent experience at a small industry seminar on business intelligence illustrates how this could happen. But first, I need to set this up a bit. Before the seminar, which I participated in as a panelist, a young entrepreneur struck up a conversation with me over coffee about the latest developments in the industry and how his company is responding. But he shifted gears when he mentioned Clayton Christensen's The Innovator's Dilemma, which underscores the impact of disruptive innovation on a market. Essentially, disruptive innovation, according to Christensen, is any technology or innovation that has the ability to displace or marginalize an existing technology or paradigm. Some examples of this are what electricity and light bulbs did to candlelight, what automobiles did to the horse and buggy, and what digital photography is doing to 35 mm print film. My new acquaintance told me that prior to the Internet revolution truly disruptive innovation happened infrequently and could be measured in years. Today, however, he says the introduction of new disruptive technology is being measured in months. Now back to my concern about business intelligence apps being viewed as a business panacea. One of the benefits of business intelligence software mentioned during the seminar was its ability to identify which customers are soon likely to leave so that a company can design a marketing campaign to keep them. During the question and answer session, a woman in the audience asked how business intelligence can help a company like AOL, which is rapidly losing customers to high-speed Internet companies and other companies like Yahoo and Google that offer free email accounts. My pulse quickened. I found myself in a bit of a quandary. I wanted to talk some sense into her and say, You just told us what the problem is. Why would you need business intelligence to spell it out for you? Out of respect for her and for the vendor hosting the event, of course, I held my tongue. I glanced over at the young entrepreneur. He caught my eye, smiled, and nodded knowingly. David Myron Editorial Director dmyron@infotoday.com
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