The Changing Face of CRM

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Wow, what a year! People in the CRM industry have spent 2004 continuously asking "What's next?" We've had major mergers, surprising executive changes, significant product launches, successful IPOs, and even some controversy. In the midst of events like CDC's acquisition of Pivotal, Tom Siebel and Brent Frei stepping down from their respective CEO positions, and Salesforce.com's news-making IPO, CRM vendors continued to deliver more value to their customers. Those CRM user organizations, in turn, found greater and greater success with their CRM strategies. Over the past few months several industry pundits noted that during 2004 organizations have increasingly recognized the value of being customer centric and of working as a unified team to achieve that goal. One recent conversation I had exemplifies that trend. During a panel discussion I moderated at Pivotal's Customer Summit I asked what Steve Roch, chief information technology officer of Research Systems, thought was the best way to get IT and the business side to work together to help ensure a successful CRM initiative. Roch responded that companies shouldn't think in terms of IT versus business, and in fact, he didn't consider himself to be an "IT person." "I'm a business strategist," he said. "My job is to find ways to support my company's business strategies. My organization needs to be a 'yes' organization, not a 'no' organization. If, for example, the sales team says they need something, it's our job to find a way to say, 'Yes, we can do that for you.'" The audience's enthusiastic response leads me to believe that this closer relationship between the IT and business teams will continue in 2005. What else do we see coming next year? In "It's Not Business as Usual" Executive Editor Jason Compton reveals the seven major trends developing as the CRM industry evolves. As he explains, 2005 promises to be a year full of new opportunities and new challenges. Turn to page 32 to find out why. Compton also reviews the predictions for 2004 that we made in December 2003, and cites whether we hit the mark. His findings may surprise you. Along with the increased focus on partnering for CRM success that we've witnessed in 2004 is a raft of technologies gaining traction. In "10 Technologies That Are Reinventing the CRM Industry" (page 44), Assistant Editor Coreen Bailor describes the pros and cons of the new tools and how they can support organizations' CRM strategies now and in the coming year. Inspiring much of this evolution is a group of new leaders. Many of the most prominent CRM vendors have appointed new presidents and CEOs over the past 24 months. Their influence will have a significant impact on the industry in 2005. We introduce you to these executives in "Taking Charge" (page 40). Vendors are not the sole force behind this industry change. Top executives at CRM user organizations are creating new strategies to cement emotional loyalty with their customers. "We had profound customer promiscuity," Harrah's Entertainment President and CEO Gary Loveman said during his keynote at the recent Better Management Live conference. "I'm now the champion of customer monogamy." And customer commitment has always been and will continue to be the ultimate goal of CRM. Ginger Conlon Editor-in-Chief
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