Top Guns (part 1)
The CRM industry is one of the sweetest spots of the technology pie, with many companies looking to grab their slice. As a result, it is filled with die-hard, passionate people preaching the CRM gospel to anyone who will listen. One look at the individuals involved in the CRM industry gives reason enough to believe it is one of the most dynamic markets in the world today. To recognize the best and brightest the CRM market has to offer, CRM magazine has selected the Top 20 Most Influential CRM Executives in the industry. These 20 individuals are the thought-leaders in the CRM world and are responsible for pushing the market forward with a vengeance. Here they are, alphabetically.
Tim Bajarin | President, Creative Strategies
There is a difference between demanding attention and commanding it. Many executives in the CRM circles pound their own chests to either satisfy their egos or to justify their importance in the industry. Creative Strategies President Tim Bajarin is not one of them.
Bajarin is well-respected in all circles of the technology world, not just the CRM arena, for his technical insight, business acumen, and vision. He has been with Creative Strategies since 1981 and has served as a consultant to most of the leading hardware and software vendors in the industry, including Apple, AT&T, Compaq, Dell, Epson, IBM, Lotus, Microsoft, Polaroid, Toshiba, Xerox, and many others.
It is no surprise that Bajarin, whose father was a minister and mother a teacher, is humble about his importance in the industry. But make no mistake: Numerous tech behemoths call on him before embarking on new technology campaigns.
"I do believe that in the areas of mobile and wireless and next-generation, real-time enterprise technology. I have the privilege of seeing things so far in advance that by the time I guide IT directors I have the knowledge and authority to guide them in that process," Bajarin says. "I would never overrate myself, but I have been doing this for 22 years, and helping OEMs deliver what customers want, so I believe that when I speak it is with knowledge and experience and passion."
This is an understatement, according to many industry executives who joke that every time Bajarin's cell phone rings, it could be Microsoft's Bill Gates or Apple's Steve Jobs at the other end. "Tim is in deep, deep, deep with the most important people in this industry," says Barton Goldenberg, president of CRM consulting firm ISM Inc. "He is a stalwart of Silicon Valley."
Marc Benioff | Chairman and CEO, Salesforce.com
Marc Benioff is everywhere. When the 37-year-old chairman and chief executive of Salesforce.com isn't evangelizing his "the end of software" concept, announcing customer wins or making presentations to analysts, he's helping to provide access to technology for youths in underserved communities, playing tennis, or swimming with dolphins in the ocean. That's right, dolphins.
The energetic Benioff, who got into the CRM game a little over three years ago after 13 years as a top executive at Oracle Corp., has many CRM players looking over their shoulders.
Benioff estimates that Salesforce.com, through its application hosting model, will record $60 million in sales this calendar year and then $120 million next year.
And while some rivals dismiss the sales figures and customer numbers Benioff touts about his privately held company, few would deny that he is ambitious, driven, and passionate about Salesforce.com and his vision to "destroy the enterprise software industry."
Benioff says he plans to accomplish this by "illuminating the fact that the traditional enterprise software model is a failure in businesses of all sizes." Benioff's model is to deliver CRM applications and all software via the Web.
Many are listening. The company's list of customers is growing and includes Adobe, Autodesk, Kikkoman, Segway, and USA Today.
But, Benioff says, part of business is also giving back. He's a proponent of the integrated corporation, whereby 1 percent of a company's equity is placed into a public charity serving the communities in which they do business. Salesforce.com is already successfully doing this via its Salesforce.com Foundation, but a little thing like success isn't likely to stop Benioff from doing more.
Steve Carpenter | President, Baan CRM
Steve Carpenter may very well be remembered as the man who brought Baan back from the dead. If you are looking for an impressive turnaround story, you can find one in Baan, a unit of the Invensys Software Systems division of Invensys plc.
Baan's much-publicized financial woes in 1998 and 1999 brought great concern to employees, partners, and customers about its staying power. The then-struggling ERP vendor was bleeding money, and had very little hope of staying competitive on its own. Thanks to the acquisition by Invensys in August 2000, Baan began its road to recovery, starting with a focus on the customer.
After Invensys acquired Baan, the combined company needed to focus on growth. "We needed to go out and talk to customers to find out where we needed to improve our support. The result of that is our customer satisfaction rating is at an all time high of 88 percent with mission-critical systems. That's up 40 percent from one year prior," says Susan Heystee, president of Baan Americas. "As a result we didn't do a lot of public relations. We needed to get our house in order. We worked on a number of new releases and focused on building the business back."
For the subsequent quarters, the company kept a low profile, quietly rebuilding relationships and ensuring customers of its newfound financial strength and its commitment to supporting them. Baan's focus paid off, and as customers began to get comfortable with the company again, they steadily rewarded Baan with their business.
The man largely responsible for driving Baan's CRM technology focus after taking in the customer feedback is Carpenter, formerly the vice president of engineering, responsible for managing all the product development and strategy for Baan's CRM solutions. Carpenter, a six year Baan veteran, was rewarded for his efforts with a recent promotion to the role of president of Baan CRM.
"Within the manufacturing space we will be considered one of the top-five vendors," Carpenter says. And with 6,000 customers worldwide, Baan certainly has a shot at making Carpenter's prediction come true.
Patrick Bultema | President and CEO, FrontRange
Whoever first said, "Nice guys finish last," never met Patrick Bultema, president and chief executive of FrontRange Solutions Inc.
Born and raised in California, Bultema picked up and moved his family to Colorado and away from Silicon Valley for a more "human touch," despite building a career in the technology industry, friends say.
Realizing the value and opportunity in improving call center technology and functionality, Bultema is credited with helping to create the Help Desk Institute in the early 1990s. Now he applying that knowledge and understanding to drive FrontRange to be the first CRM vendor to standardize on Microsoft's .Net platform.
"I guess you can call us the .Net poster child. We are really committed to the .Net framework specifications," Bultema says. And although this effort was underway before he joined FrontRange, he is driving the strategy forward as the company just released its first true .Net product. He believes the commitment to .Net will result in FrontRange growing from $80 million in revenue this year to more than $100 million next year.
In addition to his early recognition of the potential of call centers and now the .Net standard, people equally know Bultema as an honest individual with a strong commitment to helping others. In fact, after adopting a second child from China (after he and has wife had four children of their own), Bultema became involved with improving the lives of suffering children. He helped set up and cochair an orphanage in China, which is being used as the model for the country.
"It would be ironic if you have a leader in the CRM industry that is not committed to relationships," Bultema says. "One of the ways I evaluate my own life is the quality of relationships I have both professionally and personally."
This would explain his B.A. in humanities from California State University Chico, and an M.Div. in theology and biblical studies from Princeton University. But ask him where piloting his own planes and rock climbing fit in. --Elliot Markowitz
Craig Conway | CEO and President, PeopleSoft
Analysts claim PeopleSoft is being eclipsed by SAP as the clear, second-largest CRM vendor, but is Craig Conway worried? No.
Conway does not buy into the notion that SAP is actually selling that much CRM--SAP bundles its CRM applications with its other enterprise offerings. In fact, Conway is not shy to say that PeopleSoft is closing in on Siebel. "PeopleSoft has gained much more market share than SAP," Conway says. "It is hard to gauge SAP on a single-product basis."
It is this drive and resilience that Conway is known for. "CRM is an all-consuming career passion," he says. And he walks the walk. PeopleSoft is expected to hit $369 million in revenues this year, up considerably from $240 million in 2000, Conway's first full year on the job.
Conway travels nearly 60 percent of the time, meeting mainly with customers. When he is not on the road, he begins his day at 4:45 a.m., works out for about an hour, and gets to the office by 7:30. About 12 hours later he goes home, where he will play with his two children, a 12-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son, before they go to bed. "In business I have a laserlike focus," Conway says. "But when I walk in the front door I carry none of it with me."
Another executive talent coming out of Oracle, Conway joined PeopleSoft in 1999 as president and chief operating officer. He was quickly promoted to chief executive in September of that year. Under his leadership PeopleSoft has embraced the Web as a platform and was an early provider of mobile CRM.
"Craig is a great leader and a believer of the integration of the front- and back office," says Adam Klaber, global CRM leader for PwC Consulting. "He has done a lot to prove you can do CRM and ERP, and has executed on that wisdom."
Ginger Cooper | Founder, CRMA
After following the SFA/CRM industry for more than a decade as an analyst and journalist, Ginger Cooper has decided to take the lead. Cooper, founder of the Customer Relationship Management Association (CRMA), has spent the past year shoring up support for its expansion. What began as CRMSouthEast has evolved into a national organization guiding executives on how to tackle CRM initiatives. In the past year chapters have formed in Baltimore/Washington D.C., Chicago, Dallas, Philadelphia, San Diego, Seattle, and Silicon Valley.
Cooper founded CRMA, she says, because CRM is an area that needs networking to help users learn from each other. High-level executives who are in charge of their companies' CRM meet to discuss opportunities and challenges, Cooper says. "It's really exciting to get inside some of these companies and see what's happening," she says. "It's been a powerful experience."
Cooper, now president of the National Board of the CRMA, began her career in the industry as the SFA project director at Culpepper & Associates, a software market research firm. Cooper's extensive knowledge of CRM and her vast network of industry influencers has been the cornerstone of the CRMA's success thus far, says Jack Sumner, a CRM consultant and president of the Atlanta chapter. "Her network goes hand-in-hand with her drive and energy and passion," he says. "In one year she has taken the organization from the grass-roots level to a successful national organization."
Bruce Culbert | SVP, Global Solutions Leader, Supply Chain and Customer Relationship Management, KPMG Consulting Inc.
Bruce Culbert admits to living and breathing his job as the senior vice president and global solutions leader for KPMG Consulting Inc.'s supply chain and CRM lines of business. Overall, KPMG Consulting will do more than $2.2 billion in revenue this year, and its CRM practice is estimated to account for up to 20 percent of that. "If you mingle your job with your whole life then you have a better feel for what's coming," says the 42-year-old Culbert, who has been setting KPMG's SCM and CRM business practices since February 2001.
Culbert, a former collegiate wrestler who now coaches his son's wrestling team, knows all about leverage. Culbert started IBM Interactive Media in 1994 and expanded the unit to more than 800 employees worldwide. Following that success he was named as IBM's first vice president of e-Business Services and Global Services. In 1999 Culbert left IBM to become president and chief operating officer of Third Millennium Communications, a holding company and Internet incubator.
Despite knowing all the ins and outs e-business, Culbert says his experiences as an e-business customer have only recently improved. He attributes that to dramatically improved customer service and businesses working much harder to satisfy their customers. That pleases Culbert and means he's doing his job well.
"There are the typical measurements of success--corporate revenue growth, profitability, market share, etc.--but there are others that are just as important, including relevance of solution portfolio, leveraging other strategies in the whole business, and customer satisfaction," he says.
Christopher Fletcher | Vice President, Managing Director, Aberdeen Group
There is not much you can say to Christopher Fletcher that he has not heard before. As a 20-year industry veteran Fletcher has been involved with the high-tech industry before networking, client/server computing, or the Internet became real business developments. As vice president and research director of Aberdeen Group's CRM practice, Fletcher sorts out the hype and analyzes all aspects of the customer-facing market, from sales force automation to e-business applications to enterprise handheld devices and PDAs.
"Chris Fletcher has his roots in the CRM industry," says Patrick Bultema, chief executive and president of FrontRange Systems. "When I get together with Chris, I am truly as interested in his opinion as in telling him what we are thinking."
Fletcher joined Aberdeen in 1997 as a senior analyst and was promoted to research director, and then managing director of Aberdeen's CRM practice. Prior to joining Aberdeen Fletcher had worked for a number of established and start-up technology companies, including AT&T, Burroughs, Staffware plc, and Wang Laboratories.
Outside of his interest in the CRM industry Fletcher is a member of the National Ski Patrol as a certified Outdoor Emergency Care Technician. He holds BA in Philosophy from the University of New Hampshire and an MBA from the university's Whittemore School of Business and Economics.
Barton Goldenberg | President, ISM Inc.
Barton Goldenberg has seen the future of CRM, and it is the real-time enterprise. Goldenberg, president of CRM consultancy ISM Inc. and cochair of DCI Inc.'s CRM conferences, has overseen more than 400 implementations, which has given him deep insider knowledge of what companies want from their CRM initiatives. This insight has led him to believe in the real-time industry as the business model of the future, and that CRM is its cornerstone.
"There is no reason to make people wait to get information that's available," Goldenberg says. "Why would we do anything less than real time when the technology is now available to be real time? Anyone in commerce wants to run efficiently, because that's what customers want."
Goldenberg is so convinced of the value of the real-time enterprise that he has created, with DCI, the Real-time Enterprise Conference, which will be held this December. In addition he is in the process of creating a real-time enterprise consortium.
"Barton is passionate about the real-time enterprise, and passion mixed with knowledge is contagious," says Tim Bajarin, president of consultancy Creative Strategies and cochair of DCI's CRM conferences.
Goldenberg is absolutely committed to the real-time enterprise. "I will do all I can to move it forward. The real-time enterprise will happen," he says, because of the commitment of the vendors and companies that have worked so diligently on its success thus far.