2011 CRM Forecast: A Look Back. How'd I Do, Vox Populi?

Well, well, well. How ‘bout this? We're at the point in the year that it's time to start looking at what was in 2011 as opposed to what is going to be?
Written by Paul Greenberg, Contributor

Well, well, well. How ‘bout this? We're at the point in the year that it's time to start looking at what was in 2011 as opposed to what is going to be? Sigh.  Another year gone.  Which of course means I'm getting older and even though I feel young and have spring in my step too many springing moves and my back goes out and I have to rest.

What I love about this time of year, aside from the weather, is that I get to practice self-flagellation and atone for all my sins - meaning incorrect or stupid forecasting predictions. The worst of my forecasts this year is the saddest of them (to me at least) - but I'll let you see that one later, when you get to it.  Those of you who know me well, already know which one that is.

Needless to say this means that once again, I have to refine my brilliantly derived and patented-NOT algorithm for my forecasts. I am reprinting the history of this unbelievable tool for pretty much predicting anything that needs to be predicted in the world that I inhabit - which, I need to be clear, is strictly of my own construction.

So here are the improvements over the years.

2009: The Original

eu + gw (l*bl)/i = fw, where eu = eye use; gw = guesswork; l=luck; bl=blind luck; i=intuition and fw = forecast wisdom.

2010: 20x Improvement in  General Accuracy

(eu*cl) + gw(l*bl)*ts/20 = fw where eu = eye use; cl = contact lenses; gw = guesswork; l = luck; bl = blind luck; ts = total speculation; and 20 of course equals the amount to decrease the inefficiency by because I want to.

Key improvement for 2010: By adding contact lenses, and replacing intuition with total speculation divided by 20, we decrease the inefficiencies by 20x, thus improving the accuracy by 20x.  Logical. I'm so proud.

2011: Increased But Conservative Long Term Forecasting Accuracy

(eu*cl*(ew/2)) + gw(l*bl)*ts/20 = fw/2 where eu= eye use; cl = contact lenses; ew = extended wear contact lenses; gw = guesswork; l = luck; bl = blind luck; ts = total speculation; and 20 of course equals the amount to decrease the inefficiency by.

Key improvement for 2011:  By making the contact lenses extended wear, the long term accuracy of the forecast increases.  Once again, a breakthrough in forecasting methodology, unparalleled in the 18th century. What do you mean this is the 21st century? Yeah right. I believe THAT. I'm leaving. Get me my horse.

2012: A More Granular Insight into the Ancillary Factors Determining the Brilliant Results

(eu*cl*(ew/2)) + gw(l*bl)*ts/20*((wit)/ot)*(4.81232223222ng) - 2t  = fw/2 where eu= eye use; cl = contact lenses; ew = extended wear contact lenses; gw = guesswork; l = luck; bl = blind luck; ts = total speculation; and 20 of course equals the amount to decrease the inefficiency by.  The new additions are wit = written idle thoughts divided by ot = overthinking times 4.8123223222ng = needless granularity minus 2t = second thoughts. Which of course leads to fw = forecast wisdom over 2 = half-assed.

Key Improvement for 2012: By adding the idle thoughts that come to mind whenever they bubble up and hang on the synapses long enough to remember them to write down and then dividing that by overthinking  them, we give an added layer of apparent importance to the forecasts that was not there in 2011.  But if that isn't exciting enough, multiplying the needless granularity that this new set of additions to the algorithm evokes by 4.81232232222 gives us a deeper granularity than even the amount that we've created out of whole cloth. It provides us with a depth that is so profound that it reaches close to where sonar can no longer measure.  But, with that kind of granularity comes the increased chance of error so that we have to have a countermeasure which why we apply second thoughts to the formula thus stripping away the.... you know what? Forget it.

The Pundit Immunity Clause

The year wouldn't be complete without my annual evocation of the Pundit Immunity Clause which, once again, for those of you who haven't taken the time yet to memorize it (and shame on you):

"All pundits are immune from the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and slings and arrows fired at them by outraged patrons when their forecasts go south.  Despite the failures, we are still permitted complete access to all Pundits Lounges at airports across the world even when the failure rate exceeds 80%. But if it exceeds 90% the wi-fi is no longer free."

There have been no significant changes in the PIC since last year and that means we pundits still have skin in the game.  No wi-fi.  Wow. I mean, c'mon.

The Format

So here's the plan. As you know I'm very sensitive to my audiences.  I'm a metrosexual par excellence - the uber-sensitive male. I even have a murse for my iPad2, okay?

Look, I realize that some of you are right-brained, some of you are left-brained. So my way of providing you with some way of understanding how well I did is the following.  For you left-brainers, a simple rating - 0-5 stars with quarter star increments; for you right-brainers, a lyric from a song that reflects how I felt about how I did in terms that you will feel too.  I've simplified it and dropped the third rating this year - the baseball analogy. It was too much - and it hurts.

I mean, I'm thinking in your metaphors, man or woman or whatever else you might be.  I mean, I feel your thoughts, okay? And I can measure them.

Enough Pontificating, Time to.... Pontificate

So you know what you're reading, the ratings are in the same format as last year. As always, the highlighted particular forecast, my written assessment of how I did with it and some ratings designed for all audiences of all types to understand.  The numbers in the front of the forecast was my confidence in how likely the forecast was to be on a scale of 1-10.

The Look Back Begins

(9) Mobile CRM growth accelerates.

Well, I was kind of right here.  It accelerated, but to be totally transparent (which would reduce my way-too-high weight considerably) it didn't accelerate in exactly the way that I thought it would.  What I said, if you remember (of course you don't), is it would be driven by mobile commerce and by the customer and by social networking and that was true somewhat, sorta, kinda.  So there was that strong B2C component and consumerization of IT fairy dust sprinkling that justifies the forecast. But, in truth, an incredible amount of this was driven by the iPad more than any kind of customer or any other kind of device. It impacted B2C and B2B and not just CRM, but the entire enterprise.  All the major vendors and many practitioners debuted iPad apps.  For example, the salesforce.com acquisition of Model Metrics was more for their versatility with the iPad than anything else (though what else they offer is still substantial).  At Sapphire 2011, SAP debuted the use of HANA, their in memory computing platform on the iPad. In fact, Dimension Research, in a Model Metrics sponsored research released in May 2011 on the use of the tablet in the enterprise found that 22% have formally deployed iPads or other tablets already and that 78% plan to have tablets deployed by the end of 2013 with more than 4/5s of them planning to deploy iPads. AND the most requested application for the tablet? Forty-seven percent said sales force automation.  Voila. Mobile CRM in the hopper and the works.

So, much as I'd like to say that Mobile CRM was driven by consumer driven commerce, it wasn't really, though it played a part. But it was the iPad's form factor and versatility that drove the imagination in the enterprise and consumer markets. Among the places that this imagination landed - mobile CRM.   Sigh.

RATING: Left Brainer: 3.5/5.0 Right Brainer: "I'm not really sure of the coming attractions" - The Way I Am, Staind

(10) CRM and "Social" companies continue to integrate their capabilities as a few suites begin to emerge.

Integration? Si.  Suites? No.  There is no doubt, due to, in large part, Social CRM being treated as a mainstream stratagem (though not well implemented) that now we are seeing companies like salesforce, Microsoft, Oracle and SAP announcing social integration. The examples abound.  Salesforce acquired Radian6 in April for over $325,000,000, making a lot of sense and a lot of friends of mine well off.  Between the decision by Marc Benioff to extend Chatter to external customers, the Radian6 and to a lesser extent the Model Metrics acquisition(s) in combination with their data.com and database.com initiatives and all this playing with Sales Cloud 2 and Service Cloud 2 down the road, salesforce is positioning this integration.  In addition, Microsoft's recent announcement of the integration of activity streams into Microsoft Dynamics CRM and the earlier-this-year integration of CoTweet for fuller social customer profiles has started their integration down the path too.  SugarCRM does not only offer (as of this year) platform-based social CRM tools but partners with companies like InsideView to incorporate social sales intelligence into their offering.

But it doesn't stop with the CRM companies - the social software companies can pretty well point to one or two traditional CRM companies that they are either partnered with to integrate or just building their own using the APIs made available by the vendors. For example, two collaboration platforms, Qontext and Yammer, built on very different models, both integrated with and partnered with NetSuite during 2011.

I nailed that much.

But the suites emergence?  Meh, at best.

I don't see any evidence of a Social CRM suite large or small yet - salesforce.com comes pretty close, but still lacks the marketing beef to handle that (more on that in the forecast).  Pivotal Social CRM comes close too but is focused on sales and customer service and lacks marketing oomph also.  All of them lack the integration with collaboration and community platforms - far beyond the integration of activity streams. I'd like to think Oracle's acquisition of the cloud based multi-tenant customer experience customer service, blah, blah, blah, CX platform, RightNow, might tilt them in the right direction, but they are a disparate collection as of now with Fusion CRM mostly focused around internal collaboration, or what Oracle is calling their "enterprise social network."

But it's all speculative and thin at best.  So, I don't want to fail me exactly but I was definitely off. To my defense, I do say in my forecast that they will emerge in 2011-2012 so I have a year.

RATING: Left Brainer: 3.75/5.0 Right Brainer: "Who wants to be riding high when you'll just crumble back on down" - Right as Rain, Adele

(7) Social "rankings", as a measure of customer engagement, will become a standard public measure.

Damn, damn, damn. What can I say about this? I'd love to say I was 100% right since I didn't claim ubiquity for "social rankings" but emergence as a standard. But the whole thing is to make that 100% right claim I'd have to say that Klout was an effective measure of true social influence - and it isn't. Not by any stretch of the imagination. However, it's a not bad measure of engagement in a topical context.  Which is very different than "social ranking" and "influence."  If you agree that my definition is accurate - then I almost failed on this one. If you succumb to the marketing by Klout, then gol' durn it, I'm a GREAT pundit.  Unfortunately, reality dictates otherwise. From the standpoint of real measures of social rank, the only truly bright spot this year was the emergence of Lithium's Chief Scientist Dr. Michael Wu, who is someone who put the evaluation of true influence and how it works into the discussion. And why in the name of....anyone did I call it "social rank" rather than influence?

RATING: Left Brainer: 1.5/5.0 Right Brainer: "I said, no, no, nahnononono, you're not the one for me" - Black Horse & the Cherry Tree, KT Tunstall

(10) Analytics exhibits the most significant growth of any area with Customer Insight apps leading the way.

I was so SURE of this one - and to some extent, I was right, but I wouldn't call it an explosion.  I would say that business recognized the need to blow up the house and are now in process of buying the dynamite.  Plus, I would say that we saw the early emergence of what I can now safely call Insight Solutions with companies like Coveo making huge progress; companies like the Sequoia funded Lattice Engines, starting to make their make and the practitioners beginning to seriously invest in customer analytics.  In fact, interesting - let's call this a statistical anecdote - as part of the voting process for CRM Idol 2011, we did a side study asking the voters who were willing, a series of questions that gave us some idea of who was doing what as a user of CRM. What was interesting is that out of 20 some odd categories, about 22% were doing primarily customer analytics, according to the way they typified it.  There were a significant number of hundreds of voters who answered this part of the poll.

However, the range of results that surveys found was indicative of the uneven start to what will be a major explosion. On the one hand, Accenture found spotty adoption of customer analytics while major analytics thought leader Seth Grimes found widespread adoption of text analytics in 2011.

So was I as right as I thought I was going to be?  No.  If I made this exact same forecast for 2012 would I be right?  Yes. Well, most likely. The floodgates are opening.  It was just a bit slower than I thought it would be.  Will I make the exact same forecast for 2012? Well, you'll just have to wait and see.

RATING: Left Brainer: 4.25/5.0 Right Brainer: "After all is said and done, I feel the same. All that I hoped would change within me stayed."  - Someone You'd Admire, Fleet Foxes

(7) Marketing apps mature with social marketing becoming an integral part of the application offering.

Knocked this sucker out of the park.  Both restyled versions of marketing automation and social marketing did not only emerge as a corporate imperative in many cases, with the CRM practitioners deciding on their strategic marketing imperatives with social actions as part of the core strategy and tactics, but the application providers just proliferated, ranging from Marketo's and Eloqua's transformation to companies that looked at sales and marketing alignment via what they call Revenue Performance Management  (sadly called that) to the transformation of inbound marketing giant Hubspot from site to a platform via integration with salesforce.com to the emergence of social marketing currently led by pure social marketing application provider Crowd Factory, a CRM Idol finalist.

Not only that, but a whole set of social metrics enhancing existing approaches to lead scoring primarily began to emerge so that the marketing results weren't only anecdotal but also measurable, thus making the social channel integration into marketing strategy more palatable to the ever-left brained minions of corporate management.  For example, take a look at the social demand generation concepts that were publicly presented by companies like the Pedowitz Group, something not exactly on the agenda a year ago.

RATING: Left Brainer: 4.5/5.0 Right Brainer: "There's nothing you can't do, now you're in New York. These streets will make you feel brand new. The lights will inspire you. Let's hear it for New York, New York, New York." - Empire State of Mind, Jay-Z feat. Alicia Keyes

(8) Customer service begins to redefine itself with greater emphasis on service communities, web self-service and customer knowledge capture.

I'm on a major roll, dudes and dudesses.  May-JOR.  This is actually becoming a prevalent area of interest for customer service strategies, especially with the Fortune 1000 companies. Not only have we seen customer service success stories in companies like B2C Best Buy but also in B2B companies like SAP or Intuit, which have either hybrid B2B/B2C capabilities or are hard core B2C.  But it doesn't rest exclusively on the Fortune 1000, but also even small companies are beginning to take on this model. Anecdotal proof? Small companies like virtual mobile network operator GiffGaff are starting to create what turn into megawatt level star customer service driven communities where the customers participate in efforts (that are, of course, encouraged, not resisted) to solve other customers problems. Look at GiffGaff's numbers, though granted they are an edge case.  Over 50% of all customer problems are solved by other customers. They are most often solved on first contact, too  (45%).  Plus there is some sort of rapid customer response - in Giff Gaff, the average time the question put to the community is responded is 3 minutes.  Three friggin' minutes.

More proof?  Once again the customer service software industry has a very interesting verbatim to provide.   Oracle, recognizing how important customer service communities have become - and realizing that their cloud based offerings didn't really provide community capabilities, hedged by acquiring former competitor RightNow, which due to their acquisition of HiveLive in 2009, can provide service communities.

We also saw the growth of Lithium and Jive to the point that Jive is now in IPO mode.  Both of them continued to rack up award after award.

Proving once again that customer service drives Social CRM.

RATING: Left Brainer: 4.75/5.0 Right Brainer: "Feelings getting stronger, music getting longer. I want to take you higher!" - I Want to Take You Higher, Sly & The Family Stone

(6) Knowledge management replaces enterprise content management as a core requirement for large businesses.

I'm now a pundit.... you really love me.... you think I'm sma-art. (sung with the cadence and tune that Sandra Bullock used in Miss Congeniality)  Three in a row, baby.

Okay, maybe not so pure on this one.  There is NO question that there was an increased interest in knowledge management last year. That was best reflected in the technologies that are associated with KM. We saw the emergence of Coveo, one of the more important insight solutions; and, most importantly, once again, Oracle making a bet on KM with their acquisition of first, KM software industry leader, Inquira in late July; followed by their equally important acquisition of unstructured data services specialist Endeca in October.

However, can I fairly say that it replaced enterprise content management in large businesses? No. I can't. And I won't. Though I'd like to.  If what I said was true, why would SharePoint numbers of $2 billion be bandied about as where it is going and why would an increasing number of vendors be interested in integrating with SharePoint?  Which has been the ECM market leader for a long time now and looks to continue to be that for awhile to come.

The short answer is that if what I thought was completely true, it wouldn't and they wouldn't.

However, the recognition that the accurate presentation of data as knowledge to customers via delivery mechanisms web self-service or great search engines or the use of data from both structured and unstructured sources to gain insight was something that was on the rise in 2011 and figures in 2012 to....oh, wait, again you'll have to wait for the forecast for 2012 post for this part.

RATING: Left Brainer: 3.75/5.0 Right Brainer: "So im...imperfect, just don't give up on me, you will see. I'm gonna be so right for you, girl." - Not Perfect, Ne-Yo

(9)Customer experience reasserts itself loudly as the core of CRM and SCRM - This one is kind of a no-brainer in a way.

And it was a no-brainer.  Program after program, study after study, indicator after indicator, vendor after vendor, reflected this successful reassertion.  It went from the sublime - like widespread recognition and awards to virtual mobile network operator  (VMNO) GiffGaff who built their entire company via engaging the customer in crafting everything from the business and service models to the customer's experience to the ridiculous - like all those who are declaring CEM a "software market."  If you look at the messaging of almost all the major CRM companies, you'll note a not-so-subtle focus around the idea of customer experience. For example, "="">".  The focus of the book as the title indicates is not SAP technology but customer experience. I use this to illustrate the trend, not to make that the definitive reason.  Though it is a good book.

But it goes well beyond that.

Customer behavior is becoming an increasing focus of vendors and practitioner companies alike. Yeah, you say, but it always has. True, but now there are two things emerging that are not what we saw in the past.  The use of predictive analytics to forecast customer behaviors and the introduction of gamification - a recognition that businesses get better outcomes when they appeal to the sense of fun and play that all humans read: customers have.

But part of the reason that vendors are centering around customer experience isn't due to the fact that they've realized that customer experience is the nexus of CRM, but because they are trying to distance themselves from the CRM acronym - and what they think it stands for. Fine. Do whatever. Just don't claim that you are a CEM vendor.  I'll have much more to say about this market confusion later this year. But in the meantime, let's be happy that vendors and practitioners are at least giving the customer's experience lip service and sometimes actually doing something about it. It's a step forward.

RATING: Left Brainer: 4.5/5.0 Right Brainer: "I have only one burning desire. Let me stand next to your fire." - Fire, Jimi Hendrix

(6) Co-creation and customer driven product innovation becomes more than just an advanced idea.

Okay, so I wasn't entirely right. Its still for the cutting edge of companies and tends to rest in the largest of companies.  It remains a great and advanced idea. But more companies are becoming aware of it, more companies are asking their customers to help drive and develop the products that the customers need and more companies are using innovation as a means to create value. For example, we are seeing practitioners like Procter & Gamble, Nike, Siemens, Samsung, IBM, among many others with formal institutional capabilities to support customer co-creation that also crystallizes the return to both the company and the customers.  But all in all, it still is a nascent part of industry practices and approaches. Talked about a lot, not practiced a great deal - yet.

RATING: Left Brainer: 3.0/5.0 Right Brainer: "My eyes adored you, though I never laid a hand on you, my eyes adored you....so close and yet so far..." - My Eyes Adored You, Four Seasons

(8) Microsoft Azure emerges as a true cloud provider at the level of Amazon as cloud computing considers its rise to becoming a primary technology infrastructure.

Screw me. Totally wrong on this one. Though the weird upside to it is that Microsoft is the one that actually proved me totally wrong by stating at the Microsoft Convergence conference that they expect Azure to be fully available and totally functional in 2013 - though the general availability date was in 2010 and it is being used in 40 countries as of 2011.  So I am two years off, though I don't understand why exactly. I know what I heard though. In the meantime, more and more companies are pledging to Azure, which is a crown jewel portfolio product/service for them boys in Redmond, so the future is promising, though the present should be also.

RATING: Left Brainer: 1.75/5.0 Right Brainer: "Mama said there'd be days like this, there'd be days like this, my mama said." - Mama Said, The Shirelles

(5) Application marketplaces will become commonplace as companies look to platform providers to fill ecosystem needs, not just CRM.

I was totally right here. Applications marketplaces are becoming commonplace, not just in enterprise level platforms like salesforce.com but in enterprise software companies like Jive or even consumer electronics companies like Panasonic or LG or consumer focused hardware/software providers like Apple or Sony. For chrissakes, even the U.S. Army has an application marketplace.  As does the U.S. government's General Services Administration (GSA), the agency that serves all other U.S. government agencies.

This is all due to the shift we are seeing toward ecosystems in particular industries that serve a range of individual customers needs rather than companies merely providing single source products. More on that in the forecast and several other pieces you'll be seeing from me throughout 2012.  One of my themes for next year.

RATING: Left Brainer: 4.5/5.0 Right Brainer: "Whoa! I feel nice, like sugar and spice I feel nice, like sugar and spice. So nice, so nice, I got you" - I Feel Good, James Brown

(10,000,000) Yankees rebound and win the 2011 World Series


RATING: Left Brainer: 0.0/5.0 Right Brainer: "....and they're picking at your bones." - Calamity Song, The Decembrists

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