Five failure predictions for 2010

It's time for predictions about failure for 2010.

Failure has been around since the time two people first starting working and collaborating together, so it's safe to assume that it's going to be with us in 2010. Let's spend a few moments thinking about and predicting the shape of failure in the coming year.

1. Traditional enterprise failure rates will remain unchanged

Despite hype from pundits about the imminent demise of on-premise computing, that day isn't here yet and it's not coming during 2010.

Next year, organizations will continue to buy heavy-duty backbone systems from major vendors, such as SAP and Oracle, and some percentage of those implementations will just not meet expectations.

Historical CRM failure rates, to use an example, are abysmal:

  • 2001 Gartner Group: 50%
  • 2002 Butler Group: 70%
  • 2002 Selling Power, CSO Forum: 69.3%
  • 2005 AMR Research: 18%
  • 2006 AMR Research: 31%
  • 2007 AMR Research: 29%
  • 2007 Economist Intelligence Unit: 56%
  • 2009 Forrester Research: 47%

Nothing on the horizon changes this picture substantially in 2010, so enterprise computing failure rates will continue to remain stable during 2010.

2. Cloud-based relationship failure becomes even more important

In the on-premise enterprise world, failure means implementations that are delayed, run over-budget, or do not achieve planned expectations or scope.

Since Software as a service (SaaS) deployments tend to be shorter and smaller, and therefore carry less attendant risk, failure has a different meaning than it does with traditional software. Failure in the cloud takes two forms: relationship problems and service availability issues.

Relationship failure arises when a cloud vendor does not follow through on service quality, pricing, or other commitments. Service availability fails when the the cloud vendor goes down, effectively locking the customer out from his or her own data.

The accelerating growth of cloud computing means that both relationship and availability failure will increase during 2010.

3. Social computing and Enterprise 2.0 adoption failure hit the jackpot

Social software -- Twitter, Facebook, Chatter, Enterprise 2.0, and a zillion other concepts and services -- are becoming increasingly important to the enterprise. During 2010, the trend toward enterprise social computing will continue to grow as an unstoppable force.

Unfortunately, many enterprise buyers learn too late that deploying social computing successfully is easier said than done. These poor folks will implement blogs, wikis, and undertake a variety of other social computing initiatives, only to discover a sad truth: just because you build it doesn't mean they will come.

Social computing adoption failure will be a big hit in 2010.

4. Large companies recognize that Social CRM failure sucks

The Social CRM perspective suggests that customers are important -- sure, this is basic, but many companies forget the obvious. During this coming year, many large companies will learn painful lessons about what happens when you stop paying attention to customers.

Remember United Breaks Guitars? United Airlines broke a guy's guitar and then refused to compensate the owner. As a result of United's steadfast refusal to do the right thing, he took matters into his own hands and created a music video about the incident. That video has received almost seven million (!) views so far on YouTube.

For your enjoyment and edification, here's the United Breaks Guitars video:

Social CRM can help companies develop greater responsiveness and a more intimate conversation with customers. Companies that recognize this and take active steps to foster genuine customer relationships will find success in 2010.

However, companies that do not pay attention to social CRM will suffer rapid reputation failure, as social computing spreads damage wider and faster than ever before possible. United Airlines knows this all too well.

The growth of social computing means that the intensity of CRM failure will magnify during 2010.

5. "Expectation gaps" are the 2010 winner

Social software relies on relationship and collaboration among "trading partners." Successful relationships between an organization and its customers, or between two individuals, depend on the parties coming to tacit or explicit agreement around basic expectations for both process and results.

Disappointment with either process or results drives failure of all kinds. These alignment dynamics are rooted in human nature and therefore form the basis for failure of all types.

Collaboration and expectation mismatches underlie every kind of failure, from traditional IT problems to the new cloud-based variants. Therefore, expectation gaps are the big failure kahuna for 2010.

[Waste basket of cash, illustrating the devastating and significant effects of failure, from iStockphoto.]

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