I forgot to write in two of my forecast segments yesterday. I think for the purposes of blaming something else, I'll blame my car accident last August for the memory loss. I have to say that because I don't think I can use the term I want to about what happened in this PG-13 rated blog. But the first word is "brain" and the last word starts with an "f" and ends with a "t." I had one. Sorry.
Here it is:
- (8) "Feedback 3.0" will become an intimate feature of most companies' customer strategy - First off, I want to make it clear "Feedback 3.0" isn't my term. I took it from Trendwatching who identified it as a major trend for 2009. What made it striking to me is the definition (you can go to their site and this location to read about what Feedback 1.0 and Feedback 2.0 were and are). Their point is that the companies have realized that the "conversation" is taking place enmasse among consumers right now -and currently (Feedback 2.0) the companies have chosen to try to listen and learn but that 3.0 is when they start to engage with the customers. If you know the definition of CRM 2.0 (the rough one I have now) that we are working on the CRM 2.0 wiki (feel free to sign up at the link and participate), it goes like this: "CRM 2.0 is a philosophy & a business strategy, supported by a technology platform, business rules, processes and social characteristics, designed to engage the customer in a collaborative conversation in order to provide mutually beneficial value in a trusted & transparent business environment. It's the company's response to the customer's ownership of the conversation." Sound familiar? Feedback 3.0, CRM 2.0 seem to have elements that overlap directly. The key element? Companies responding to the hard core fact that the conversations are already going among the customers - about them and they have to engage In fact, Trendwatching.com may be underestimating the level of "feedback 3.0" going on already. Companies like SAP have senior management level people whose purpose is to engage the blogger community; Dell has a chief blogger and people on staff whose job it is to monitor blogs and review sites and then engage in the conversation about Dell going on (which is prodigious). Companies like Boeing and Starbucks are actively soliciting feedback from their customers and then responding to through collaboration with them on new products. These trends are being reproduced in hundreds, probably thousands of companies across the world now. As I write. Immediament. In 2009, with an ongoing recession the need to engage these customers, friends or enemies, becomes paramount as the strategy for customers moves from its historically lacking transactional "object of sale" to the more peer level (oddly enough) interactional (is that a word?) "partners." These partners-in-waiting are the potentially make or break people that companies need to be responding to because of something I outlined in yesterdays Part 2 forecast - reputation, influence, persuasion. You remember, don't you? No cheating. These are influential with their peers and could damage or improve the bottom lines of your company based on how your company participates in the conversations they initiated. Not an easy thing but a necessary one. I gave this an 8 in certainty rather than a 9 or 10, because while I see this an imperative that companies are becoming increasingly aware of, the increase in financial pressures could conceivably make many of those aware companies shortsighted in their investment in the tools and labor that are necessary for that engagement. Just image the cost of what I mentioned at SAP or Dell or Starbucks above. So that may hinder the the growth of Feedback 3.0. I hope not and thus give it an 8 but see it as a trend that not only accelerates in 2009 but will be part of the permanent landscape and mainstream strategy moves in 2011 - roughly.
- (7)Vendor Relationship Management (VRM) releases its first tools for the customer in 2009 - For those of you who don't know, VRM is something that has been on the table for a long time and has been championed by Cluetrain Manifesto writer and Web pioneer, Doc Searls. I call it the "labor movement" for customers. It is the customer's side of that conversation control we've been talking about. A VRM tool, thus is one that is unlike a CRM 2.0 tool. A CRM 2.0 tool would be something a vendor produces for the benefit of a company to engage its customers. A VRM tool would be something the customers would use to control how they relate or any or multiple vendors. If you're interested in this thinking, go to the Project VRM wiki at Harvard Law that Doc Searls, an amazing dude, runs and read up. Worth your involvement with. But the one thing that has had me a little concerned (as an ardent VRM believer) is that there haven't been much in the way of tools that have at least been produced and labeled as VRM related. One of the first that can be applied as a VRM tool, though not called as such, and a great one to start, is Cerado's Ventana - a mobile social aggregation tool that's used by companies and customers - it has a hybrid kind of approach. Take a look at its uses here. But there isn't much else. I think that 2009 will begin to see the evolution of the tools of what is already an established body of thought becoming increasingly accepted. But the tools need to come and this year is the year they will.