What We Have So FarCRM Watchlist 2012 Pt 1A - The Big Guns
OverviewThis is perhaps the most unusual category for me for several reasons. First, I'm looking at companies that are not product creators per se though some do develop tools that are non-monetized or commoditized, depending on which word you like using, products. This is the only case where regional or specific domain expertise is part of how I look at impact. For example, there is actually no absolute or even relative comparison between say Accenture/Capgemini and Pedowitz Group/Solvis Consulting. They have considerably different kinds of impact. In fact, there is little real comparison between Pedowitz Group and Solvis Consulting either since where and how they have their impact is totally different. Yet, all of them, to me, are legitimate winners of this competition. None of them submitted questionnaires but, honestly, none of them had to. I saw the kind of impact they had this year without their submissions. They are powerhouses in their own domains and that's what this is all about. Impact. The power of thought leadership and market impact, of management and offerings, of a stable ecosystem. These are what matter here. The weights I assign to determine the consultancies are different though the categories are the same. But these four (and of course, CSC who I covered here), is unquestionable - to me. That's why they won. Simple enough.
AccentureOne thing you can always say about Accenture - it does everything BIG and I do mean BIG! For example in their CRM practice - that would be the one responsible for direct CRM implementations and strategies - not necessarily social media strategies though it can overlap with their CRM practice for sure - they have over 2000 consultants involved. Their practice is run by the capable Robert Wollan and the on-the- ground operations and strategy by the well-liked, knowledgeable, forward thinking Joe Hughes. In fact, it was Joe who almost singlehandedly got me to like Accenture after years of acrimonious thoughts about the company. Now I'm a fan.
What makes me a fan, and what makes them a winner again for the CRM Watchlist 2012 is that they do what they do well - and they think ahead to the trends in the market. They are able to identify and then plan how they should (or shouldn't) intersect those trends, for with a clear understanding of the level of risk involved in each.
Take it a bit further. They are highly aware of the transformation of the market and to their great credit, willing to make changes in how they invest their time and money that reflect how the market is trending in For example, Accenture offered an outstanding prize for CRM Idol - the winners had the opportunity to meet with them for a day of discussions for education, possible partnership and possible investment. This would have been unfathomable three or four years ago.
Their CRM practice has been historically focused around highly complex CRM related strategies and implementations. They handle the direction, the programs, the process remaps, the technology selections, the implementations, the back end integrations, the analytics required and even at times will develop the products they need to be a"one stop shop" for their prospects and customers no matter how "niche" the industry. While not a product company, the products they develop are often lauded for the quality they provide. For example, their insurance claims management module was given a "strong positive" in the Gartner, Market Scope for North American Property and Casualty Insurance Claims Management.
They bolster their "in the weeds" approach to CRM and Social CRM with research that looks at the practices that are specific to CRM and the projected outcomes that are associated with those practices. Their research arm which leans to the pragmatic and operational aspects of CRM do an annual study on Sales Performance Optimization which identified not only the benefits of SPO but also where the so-called pain points were and recommended what to do. Solid research with actionable information. (get the 2011 study here)
Accenture also has a strong commitment to providing thought leadership though as often as a sponsor of other efforts as much as their own. That said, aside from Joe Hughes, Chris Zinner and Jason Breed both part of the CRM practice, have been actively engaged either as speakers or as informal liaisons to CRM influencers in the space, smart moves in all instances. Accenture is also always educating its workforce via internal initiatives that are based on improving the knowledge of the employees. For example, I spoke at a get together of over 75 CRM enterprise architects last year, enlightening to me because of their clear interest in the space that they are employed to be in.
In 2011, as a healthy addition to their thought leadership, they also published a quite decent book called "The Social Media Management Handbook" that reflects their in the weeds approach to CRM. This is a handbook on the "how to" not the "what is." It is FAR better than a horrible book issued in 2003 by Accenture on CRM. This new work shows how much further they've evolved when it comes to CRM and social channels and the solid quality of their thinking now.
But, with all this good stuff, what they might do better than anyone else is partner. They choose their partnerships carefully. They have metrics and benchmarks that are associated with partner success. They have both tactical partners who help them with particular opportunistic circumstances but also key strategic partners - which is where they shine - and where you can get an idea of how big they really are.
Two examples. Accenture doesn't just partner with Microsoft in a big way - they created an entire other company to do that. That would be Avanade, founded as a joint venture between the two companies in 2000. The typical business arrangement is that Avenade, which operates independently generally, subcontracts to Accenture to do Microsoft product related work.
But even when the partnership is more traditional, Accenture shows both good practical sense and also a real loyalty to their partners. Their SAP partnership has lasted 30+ years - a staggering loyalty in an era of shifting emphases - one I'm sure that is backed up by solid performance results. But what makes this partnership even more outstanding and more telling is that Accenture has, for all SAP products, utilized more than 26,500 SAP-skilled professionals worldwide. That's an SAP practice that's bigger than most companies are. And bigger than many towns in the United States.
But all of this doesn't mean that Accenture gets a mulligan when it comes to doing things that they have to do this year. They have several things that they need to do to have a serious impact in 2012.
- Break down the walls. Even though Joe, Jason, Chris et. al show up at events a lot and are an affable bunch, the larger organization, Accenture CRM has the aura of being a bit aloof from the rest of the industry. Part of this is due to sheer scope and size. But they don't spend the time except with those who are potential clients and perhaps a handful of key influencers in explaining their practice. They have what used to be called an "image problem." They are a smart, vibrant organization with good people but they have to mingle more - virtually and otherwise. Do a virtual event with third parties who are not their customers but for those who are trying to get a feel for their perspective. They need to get past the aloof image they have. Again, they have who they need from the personnel standpoint - Joe, Jason and Chris are an amazing start. But that's not enough when you have competitors sponsoring larger events and get togethers that are as much for breaking down barriers as they are for generating leads. There are intangibles that aren't measurable but that are important.
- Spend time on producing more forward thinking content than they do. The bulk of their content is of the how to type as I said - and that's good. But there is very little discussion around innovation and slightly more cutting edge thinking. They lack badly here. Even though the book on Social Media Management was very good, it was more about management than anything else. Spend time developing future business models and frameworks. That will make Accenture a company for now and the future, not just now.
Even without doing either of these suggestions, Accenture is impressive. Very impressive. And a winner for 2012 - as they were in 2011. They have come further than I would have possibly imagined about 10 years ago. Good for them.
CapgeminiCapgemini is a winner - and a riddle wrapped in a puzzle wrapped in an enigma. Last year, when I wrote their "victory review" I lauded them for their work and their approach and their partnerships which were (and are) amazing. But I was vexed by fact that I saw all this great stuff in EMEA and not the U.S. Here we are in 2012, and with a few notable exceptions, "the more things change the more they remain the same." I'm still vexed. But they are deserving winners. And I'm vexed. Did I say they deserved to win?
Make no mistake about it, when it comes to CRM and Social CRM this company is a progressive thinker, in part thanks to their thought leader in the social business (particularly Social CRM) space, Laurence Buchanan, who is a Principal, Digital Transformation at Capgemini Consulting; the Global Chief Technology Officer Andy Mullholland and Didier Bonnet, who is not only Global Practice Leader at Capgemini Consulting, but also is the Executive Sponsor for Capgemini Consulting’s Digital Transformation program, which is their take on, what I would call a "social business plus" strategy and model and set of programs.
In fact, it is their well regarded Digital Transformation initiative that put them over the top in this year's scoring. The initiative is being run along with a research partnership with MIT's Enterprise 2.0 rockstar Andrew McAfee (though his status is threatened by his ardent Boston Red Sox support). The results of their 3 year effort is a magnum opus on Digital Transformation for Billion Dollar Organizations that is well worth reading though, let's just say, you'll need some time.
This isn't just a good idea that they have; its a methodology and a model that takes into account the processes a company is using; the culture of the company; the systems that the company has; the customer experience that the company is trying to provide (as opposed to the one that they might actually be providing), the insights that need to be identified and proffered and the operational model to handle this transformation day to day. They understand clearly that the enterprise level customers that they have aren't just social creatures but have reached the stage that they need to think about multichannel strategies that involve social channels, among others. They have a clear cut path to support any kind of company transformation efforts, but as Gartner pointed out in their North American Magic Quadrant for CRM Service providers in 2010/2011, they are at their strongest when it comes to financial services, telecom and life sciences. In Europe, its public sector, discrete manufacturing, retail, insurance and telco. But it is focused in specific areas of vertical expertise regardless. For more on the digital transformation effort, head over to their Facebook page, which has a cornucopia of great links to videos and written materials on how digital transformation works and what it is.
There are other two things that make this company a winner and a half.
First, they are universally lauded for the quality of their work with their customers. My investigations (conversations with their customers), Gartner's comments, other analysts information all confirms that they a. partner with their customers and b. provide high quality, high value outcomes to the work.
Second, their partners once again - to die for. They think in terms of partner ecosystems, not just lists of partners. So for example, just in financial services, they have 35 technology partners including SAP, SAS, Oracle, Pegasystems, Cisco, HP and a wide range of others. That's just financial services. They have complete ecosystems for each practice area.
So this is a shining example of a company right? Well, yeah, in EMEA again. I can't say they aren't as good in the U.S. because once again, I don't know. The U.S CRM market presence and outreach seems to be minimal. But then again, I don't know and I can't find out.
Want to know what I mean? Let me give you an anecdotal example.
Andy Mullholland, Global CTO based in the UK and Didier Bonnet, Global Practice Leader based in France.
It was a US retreat but no one from the US org found time to attend? Not wise. Yet, EMEA can be found everywhere.
Now to their defense, I get this to some extent because this is a company headquartered in Europe. But the reason I get so perplexed a.k.a. vexed here is that they have a strong U.S. organization that, when it comes down to what matters most, does well by its customers and the customers are willing to say so. That I do know.
But the contrast between Europe and North America is very clear when it comes to market visibility and it is quite telling that CSC and Accenture, two other comparative winners are constantly in the visible both selling deals and capturing mindshare.
To underscore the point, in the analysis that Gartner did in 2010-11 of Capgemini N.A. mentioned above, they said when it came to vision:
"Capgemini appeared to react slower to market dynamics in North America and missed an opportunity to fully extend its previously established vision across industries."
I'll stop here because I don't want to belabor the issue and at the same time I want to make it clear that as a whole these guys are seriously good at what they do. I want to them to be and do better as I do for all the winners here. This is arguably the hardest nosed award that a company is going to get in a year. I don't gush because they are good enough to win this which took a lot. So tough love is what the winners get.
So what is that Capgemini can do this year to optimize their impact? Some of this is what I said last year, some not.
- Make your U.S presence known. That is still first and foremost. For example, if there is a U.S. CRM event of note like CRG's Annual SuperNova Awards Retreat, your U.S. leaders should be there. Same for Gartner360 or CRM Evolution. Submit for calls for speakers. Interact with the influencers at all the four levels - institutional, boutique, independent, journalists. Interact with them semi-regularly. Interestingly, many of Capgemini's competitors have ongoing individual relationships with various influencers.
- Make a strong push for increased market visibility for the Digital Transformation framework. Its the core offering, it has a strong operational focus, its aimed at the target market - companies over a billion dollars U.S. and it is well thought out and covers most of the areas that a large enterprise needs to cover. It also can be a brand. So Capgemini needs to be more public about it - free workshops, speaking engagements, short papers, a site that encourages discussion (The current site around Digital Transformation decidedly doesn't). BTW, I mean a global push.
The Pedowitz Group (TPG)This one was easy though it was hard. It was hard because one of my best friends (like family) who I also respect as a thought leader works with the Pedowitz Group - that would be Bruce Culbert - and for the last several years its why I didn't really consider them. But then I realized that hey, a friendship should be no impediment to their possible inclusion. I don't want to penalize companies that have my friends working for them. That then made this easy - because in their domain - marketing technology - these guys are arguably the best.
First, if you don't know The Pedowitz Group (TPG) then a. you aren't in marketing or b. if you are in marketing, you aren't getting out much. TPG is perhaps the consulting/solutions firm when it comes to developing marketing technology strategies for things like lead scoring and nurturing, social marketing, marketing resource management, and, that more recent phenomenon, called Revenue Performance Management (RPM) formerly known by some companies (Marketo and Eloqua among them) as marketing automation, which uses technology to facilitate the strategic alignment of objectives between the marketing and sales departments. It allows the marketers to have baseline financial KPIs that they are tasked to meet and measures the impact of marketing on revenue. TPG is genuinely expert in all of them. TPG uses the term Revenue Marketing to describe this function along with marketing's connection to revenue.
The thing that makes the Pedowitz Group so interesting is that they have a strong strategic focus and a framework on how they want to operate and they follow the "Jeff Bezos" approach that I've mentioned in prior posts - "stubborn on the vision, flexible on the details." Their approach to their prospective customers is quite clear. They provide an integrated set of services that can be applied in multiple ways that will allow their customer to do what they must to implement some sort of demand generation focused strategy that, if done right and executed well, will have revenue impact on the company because of its interrelationships with sales. The site doesn't say that exactly but that stamp is all over the companies well thought out approach.
They have been a superb partner or solutions provider (even with no formal partnership) for the companies that they've aligned themselves with. Among them are key partnerships with Marketo, another CRM Watchlist 2012 winner, Oracle (winner), salesforce.com (winner), ExactTarget and Aprimo. TPG customers won three Eloqua Markies and three Marketo RPM awards in 2011 - the awards that prominent RPM software providers Eloqua and Marketo gives for best work with their applications and services. They have other partnerships that are more ecosystem based with companies like InsideView, who are providing sales intelligence to help them fill out their tool set and offerings.
But what makes TPG even more interesting is the impact in their domain overall. The two principals, Jeff Pedowitz and Debbie Qaqish were named among the Top 10 Most Influential People in Sales Lead Management by the Sales Lead Management Association (SLMA) in 2011. Bruce Culbert, my friend, and their Chief Service Officer is a long time CRM influencer who has had a significant influence on other influencers in his approach to business. There is a team that provides significant thought leadership to the marketing world and some that bleeds into CRM itself.
They take some responsibility as thought leaders to provide actionable intelligence and valuable tools to the domain they play in. They did joint research in 2011 with the Lenskold Group and created what they called a Revenue Marketing Index, which is a benchmarking and readiness tool so that companies considering Revenue Marketing related activity can assess where they stand on the path. They also have created a tool that can actually do lead scoring that incorporates social profile information and social web activity, in addition to the more traditional elements, providing a much richer assessment of the possible prospects potential place in the pipeline (did you catch my use of words with "p" there?).
The results of this rare combination of thought leaders who have a practical bent, a careful selection of partners in the marketing automation, revenue performance management world and a strong focus on their customers has results. They are among the fastest growing companies in Atlanta.
But, and there always is something, they have to do a few things this year to maximize their impact.
- When it comes to thought leadership and even market impact, they are great - at speaking, making appearances at the right places, getting press, etc. , but to capture the mindshare they need to as a consulting firm they need to produce a body of work that is WRITTEN. Meaning the documents - digital or otherwise - kind of in the fashion that Marketo and Eloqua do. One thing about the Pedowitz Group that's different than any other firm they might compete beyond the big boys is that they take thought leadership and developing practical job-benefiting tools from that thought leadership seriously. But beyond articles, they have nothing like the Marketo Best Practices Guides or the Eloqua Grande Guides. While they have a blog, they are thoroughly under-utilizing it by making 95% of the content either straight press release type discussions on how great they are or by taking what is good content and making into collateral within the post - of the "that's why TPG can help you with your...." variety. Take that blog, write thought leadership content on practices and approaches and strategies and trends and then get out there and incorporate other content.
- Do more formal analyst outreach. Bruce knows everyone in the industry because of his years of experience in CRM. That is fabulous because he is respected among all the influencers institutional, boutique independent. But start working with the institutional analysts more in 2012 - maybe even a formal relationship or two. I wouldn't overemphasize this one, but I'd start thinking about it. Never thought I'd recommend this one, but in the case of TPG, it merits it.
Really, these guys are domain experts who are thought leaders who have a thriving business that knows how to do what has to be done with their customers in a practical, agnostic, strategic way. You don't get a whole lot better than that. Which is why, for their impact in the marketing technology world - which is absolutely embedded and stamped and clearly defined - they win a slot in the CRM Watchlist for 2012.
Solvis ConsultingAs I've repeated over and over again, the CRM Watchlist is an impact award. It goes to companies that have a strong impact in some way and that I think will have an even more powerful impact in the year of the award.
Solving Consulting fits the bill perfectly - and yet, I'll venture to say that many of you in the U.S. haven't heard of them. Right?
Because they are the most influential CRM company in Latin America for more reasons then I'll have room to go into here, but let me at least make an attempt to explain some of them.
Solving Consulting has the most unusual business organization of any of the winners of the 2012 Watchlist. They are a confederation of individuals. Their model is so organic that you will be able to engage with them without any fear of pesticides.
They are a company of subcontractors. That's right subcontractors. Even the three managing partners - Earl LaChance, John Davies and Jesus Hoyos (more on him later) are subcontractors. What makes them even more interesting is that though they subcontract, several of them have extensive experience working together so even a looser confederation works - where it wouldn't if there weren't a personal business bond there. They go back more than a decade (closer to 2 of those in fact) when they worked together at Cambridge Technology Partners. (How many of you remember CTP? Raise your hands.)
Each of the managing partners has highly specific responsibilities that could be classified as geographical (Jesus Hoyos - Latin America); solutions (John Davies - CRM & PMO engagements) and partners (Earl LaChance - Amdocs/Clarify, salesforce.com, SAS marketing automation). The responsibilities are clear and no one gets in the way of any other one - they work as a confederated unit.
They have both a U.S presence (where they do implementations) and a Latin American one (where they do strategy) but they won the Watchlist for their incredible presence in Latin America.
They have one of the most intelligent contemporary market focuses that I've seen at any company anywhere living and breathing a loose-limbed social business model that works from what they present to clients to how they gather leads. For example, back in the "old days" when they emerged from Cambridge Technology Partners, they got leads for their Clarify practice through tried and true 20th century methods - word of mouth and referrals from existing customers - and repeat business that way. Now most of their leads have been through their extensive partner network and social media. The partner network is dialed into a geographical ecosystem as opposed to a "fill in the pieces" version of a value chain. So for example, they have a partner network of what they call Associate Partners that spans Mexico, Argentina, Peru and Colombia that helps them sell and provide their CRM strategy services. But they also have a list of preferred companies that work locally with them to do specific technology implementations - might be particular software like Oracle, SAS, Radian6 or PeopleSoft CRM or it might be a database marketing solution installation.
Their offering is on par with the larger consultancies out there with distinct more traditional and transactional CRM offerings and Social CRM offerings that show how to develop the multichannel strategies needed for customer engagement. They are savvy enough to understand this in the unique markets they service. They are smart enough to do a smaller number of projects 5-10 per year - really well.
So you think, that's a pretty small company - and to some extent you'd be right to think that. But their impact is far beyond their size.
They are uniquely positioned as thought leaders in Latin America, particularly Jesus Hoyos. He is perhaps the most influential CRM thought leader in the region. Vendors and practitioners and other thought leaders will consult with him on what to do to drive penetration in the LATAM market. He is a prolific writer and speaker who is known internationally not just in Latin America.
But they take it further than that. They realize that to build up the awareness of the new business model that a. is starting to grip the business world and b. is the source of their bread and butter, they have to educate a business leadership that isn't that aware of that new model - nor of the value it provides their business. So they brought a Social CRM training course to multiple countries in Latin America to begin that education process and they use a wiki product, PBWorks as the collaboration platform for the classes. They are constantly using social channels to converse with their prospects, customers, other thought leaders. They maintain relationships to multiple "social software" companies such as Radian6 or Lithium to make sure that they have a strong contemporary knowledge of current trends and current software products that meet the needs of social channel interactions and integrations too.
This leads to, as you would expect, Social CRM strategy work which can range from setting up and deploying social media monitoring tools to listen to conversations and analyze them, to more complex Social Command Centers - high volume dynamic monitoring actions, reports and analysis - to even more complex community development and deployment strategies. This is not a technology company though. Technology is an enabling system, so they will train social media teams, work with the company to inculcate the changes in culture necessary to get the levels of user adoption necessary to make things happen and develop the plans, programs and protocols for things ranging from social marketing initiatives to the use of Twitter as a service channel. All based on a Social CRM framework that they have developed.
What can they do to increase their impact? Here's the thing. They differ from any other company that won the CRM Watchlist 2012 this year because their business model and organizational framework, their constraint of between 5-10 projects a year and the time and effort they put into their company is not a matter of a business return. Its a lifestyle choice. This is how they choose to do business as individuals and as a company. That means that there really isn't a lot that they can do to expand their impact unless it fulfills their individual and group preferences. Right now, they choose to maintain these constraints. So anything I would suggest to increase their impact would violate the boundaries - at least the current ones - of their constraints. So I have to choose to say there is nothing I can say that will increase their impact because they literally choose to have the impact they are having.
The one thing I can caution them about though is that their lifestyle and their and the world's economic exigencies are going to clash at some point. That could be negative - escalation or change due to a horrible economy or good - due to growth that is beyond what they had planned on managing or a potential interest in acquiring them. They will have some tough decisions to make in terms of what they want to sacrifice - the economic benefit or requirement or the lifestyle benefit. My suggestion? Think about this now. Not when it happens.
This is a company that has an impact that extends beyond its actual size and that reflects its high level of expertise. There is no doubt in my mind that they belong on the Watchlist this year. And hopefully, lifestyle and business permitting, for years to come.
Now For CRM Watchlist 2012 Closing OutOkay, whew. Done for this year. Some housekeeping to close this out.
- There is going to be a document that I will produce (It will be ready in a week or so) that will be a complete set of these reviews and the other blog posts with the rules and this blog post too. It will be freely available with an email request at first and then at my website when it launches in March of 2012. Either way, even if you get it via email, you're going to have to agree to be registered on the website and I'll have the form in the email request. Sorry to be arcane but I'd like to know those interested in this and at the same time, would like y'all to participate in the communities that will be on the site. This document is about 100 pages long. Big. Very big.
For the CRM Watchlist 2013 Opening UpI'm implementing one MAJOR rule change. Here we go.
- EVERY candidate for the CRM Watchlist 2013 and going forward, will have to fill out the questionnaire, whether or not I've tracked you. This goes for EVERY COMPANY, small or supersized. You don't fill it out, you can't qualify. I hope that means something to more than just me but it also will slightly level the playing field so that companies I'm not tracking as of January 1, 2012 can be tracked.
- The kicker to this is that if you request the questionnaire, which can happen starting today, I will start tracking you. The final submission date for the questionnaire is November 30, 2012. You can submit the questionnaire any time you want but I'm going to go on the information I have November 30, 2012.
- You are welcome to update the information via an updated questionnaire with the updates clearly marked throughout the year as often as you like (be reasonable).
- If I am already tracking you, if I were you, I'd still ask for it right away and get on the Watchlist 2013 mailing list. Also track the Twitter hashtag #crmwatchlist. I'll keep you posted on developments as they occur (infrequently) and as we get closer to deadline, will send out reminders to submit the questionnaire.
- Please for now, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to request the questionnaire and to be put on the CRM Watchlist 2013 mailing list - notifications only
- Remember, the request will trigger tracking you but it still takes submission of the questionnaire to qualify. No exceptions for the CRM Watchlist 2013