Okay, maybe I miss baseball season too much. Maybe just using the word "preseason" gives me a comfort level that is just...well...comforting, but regardless of my real reasons for saying "preseason" (ahhhh, so nice...), this is the first round of the CRM Watchlist for 2012 - an assessment of the companies that I find important that will end in January 2012 with the announcement of the winners of a place in the CRM Watchlist for this year.
The CRM Watchlist plays a very specific role in the pantheon of technology companies and service providers. It's comprised of those companies that I think that we all should be paying serious attention to, regardless of size or revenue, because one way or the other they are going to make a difference in a customer-centric world - at least from the standpoint of technology and innovation in that area. And most importantly, to the customers that actually use them to enable their customer strategies and programs. Small or big, they deserve notice and they deserve to be on a shortlist for appropriate practitioner engagements.
The caveats are somewhat different than last year though not entirely. The ones that remain the same are here again with some refreshed wordsmithing that makes them au courant
- The Preseason List - The list here is the list of all the companies et. al being considered for the list that I've been tracking during 2011. This is not a finalists list nor is it a winners list. These are the companies that have been noteworthy enough in 2011 to be considered for the Watchlist. But every company on this list has been tracked by me (more on that in a minute, companies-that-I-haven't-tracked, I'm going to take care of you.).
- This is a CRM Watchlist - meaning that worthiness is not just how well you analyze twitter traffic or how you suck up to digerati. Traditional CRM still has its place and a BIG place. Gartner estimates that SCRM is $1 billion of $13 billion in the total CRM market in 2012 so we're still only talkin' maybe 7.5% or so. Okay? What that means is that while Social CRM is an important part of some of the criteria, it's not the sole criteria. Again this is Social CRM, not social media. Social per se isn't the center of the universe here - it is being seen here as channels for input and outreach. However, unlike last year, I am going to give more credence to companies that are providing a component part of a CRM or Social CRM technology. So the chances of winning if you're a vendor with promise that provides a small piece of the technological puzzle are increased to some extent. (Note the italics for emphasis)
- I very well may have forgotten some companies that I think should be candidates but the odds of that are miniscule - but again, possible. So.... see below on what to do if I have forgotten you or your candidate for the list
- You'll note there are a few companies who are not CRM(ish). They are still noteworthy for reasons that shall be stated if they make the finals.
What's Different for 2012
There are several things that are different this year that range from the way I'm applying criteria to the market changes that dictated the list choices to the failure of several of the candidates and even the winners to maintain any momentum or to live up to their promise. You'll note that several of last year's candidates and winners are not under consideration this year. They failed to do what they should have in the market and the result was....deterioration of their presence or stasis at best. Which is sad. KickApps, listen up here.
OR like Radian6 they got acquired and thus, are now part of salesforce.com and will be considered part of salesforce.com in the discussion, despite the fact that they are operating somewhat independently still. Because the acquired companies have the full resources of the acquiring company, they have to be considered part of it. The only exception to that will be RightNow (acquired by Oracle) because the acquisition is not complete at the time of the assessment.
Also different this year is that there are a number of candidates on the list who I learned about from CRM Idol. Now, the winners from CRM Idol 2011, Get Satisfaction for the Americas and BPMonline for EMEA are guaranteed a place on the list because de facto, de jure and any other de that goes with that, they have been vetted by the influencers and validated by the market just because of the contest itself. To win that, you had to be worth watching.
But there are more than the winners on this list because I felt that they are really interesting for one reason or the other. Some were semi-finalists, some weren't. The criteria I use here are not the same criteria we used for CRM Idol
What I'm NOT going to do in this section is reveal how I weigh the criteria. There are weights assigned to the criteria. The weights have actually shifted somewhat from what the 2011 weights were.
But, there are a couple of general points to be made on this, earthlings. First, if I haven't watched you closely for at least a year, the likelihood of you making this list is not that good. However, there is an app(lication) for that Open enrollment week. That's where the arguments for those of you not on the list can be made. But you're gonna have to work for it because if you want me to put in the time to do the work I have to do for all the candidates, finalists, and winners, then you have do the work that makes me want to do the work.... or something like that.
Without further ado and in no particular order these are the criteria. Don't stress if you don't see all that you need to know. If you decide to ask for the questionnaire all will be clear. If not, I'm around to ask questions on during open enrollment week.
- Financial Performance -. How well has the company done in the last 12 months? Part of this is for understanding how the candidate companies think about their top and bottom lines. How well have you done year over year? Why? Because I need to be able to gauge the success you're having as a business and the stability you have relative to your financial performance. How important is that relative to the other criteria? If you know me, you'll have a good guess. If you don't, try to find out. But not from me.
- Management - This is a look at who the candidate companies' top and CRM/SCRM management are. Remember this is a CRM Watchlist so there are two things that I'm looking at. First, the management that is directly involved in CRM or the component technologies that are relevant to this. So it might be a VP of Product Development or Product Marketing for example. Second the C-suite commitment to the CRM or, again, component technologies relative to the rest of the portfolio of products and services.
- State of Technology Products/Services - Since I'm looking at both technology companies and the consulting services providers, the product portfolios that are appropriate to the Watchlist from the vendors and the services provided by the SI/Consulting firms in the CRM(ish) domains are obviously something that I have to look at thoroughly. The way I look at them - quality of the existing portfolios; the road maps; appropriateness to the market; customer perceptions of the value-in-use of the products. How well they support the jobs customers want them for - not the feature function list.
- Partnerships/Alliances - who do these companies, hang out with- at least the tech vendors and the SI/consulting institutions? Is their partner mix a wise one? Are they getting results with their channel/ecosystem? Are they fair to their partners? How do they think of the partner channels?
- Mission/Vision - What is the CRM related mission and vision for the company? Do they even have one? If they don't, how is CRM thought of in the context of the universal corporate mission and vision?
- Market Presence/Impact - What kind of impact and presence does the company have in the market? That means how they are perceived, how they participate, what their messaging is and how it coheres with their actions in the market. How does the company run their external operations - outreach to customers? What are customers' perceptions of them?
- Thought Leadership - This is different than market presence. For example, there is one major company who has a strong to dominant market presence and only a weak to modest hand in thought leadership. This means how you move the needle forward when it comes to thinking about ideas - which could be in your domain - say, analytics" - but it also looks at how you relate to analysts, bloggers etc. and how much you participate in the idea marketplace in the community - independent industry conferences etc. and what materials you are putting out there be it a white paper, an event, a video, a conference of your own. It also means how much you support your vision and mission or your messaging with a body of knowledge.
- Corporate Culture - Finally, how does your mission/vision and belief structure affect your company and how it supports its employees and its customers? How well do you treat your employees? What do your customers think of working with you - not just of you? Are you flexible enough a culture to be able to change when need be. How imperious is management or how empowered are the staff etc.? Plus many other "touchpoints." All part of this equation.
Now of course...The Preseason Candidates List: Software Vendors
Here's the list so far, without comment, in no particular order and without links. In the next couple of days, you'll see a second list with the consulting firms and systems integrators who aren't on this one. (UPDATE - Coremetrics shouldn't have been independent since its now part of IBM. Its now out of the list as an independent entity and incorporated into IBM (thanks to Tim for noticing this one))
- Salesforce.com (Radian6, Assistly)
- IBM (Unica, SPSS, Lotus, Coremetrics)
- Get Satisfaction
- CDC Pivotal
- Reuters (Open Calais)
- Crowd Factory
- INgage Networks
- ExactTarget (CoTweet)
- Vertical Solutions Inc
- Lattice Engine
- Crimson HexagonXactly
- Teradata (Aprimo)
- Zestia (Capsule CRM)
- Meltwater Group
- GreenRope CRM
- Soluciones SA
- Stone Cobra
- IKO System
- The Selfservice Company
- Acquia (Drupal)
A Couple of Notes on the List
Just a few things:
- I reserve the right to add to the list up to November 26 at 6pm at my discretion. I may have left a company or two off inadvertently and I don't want to do that.
- The consulting firms/systems integrators will be up as a separate list later this week.
- There are multiple companies on this list who are marginal and will have to make a case, but they are good enough to make the candidates list, where many weren't.
I'm Not on the List? What Do I Do?
Okay, I'm going to give you a window. I can't be anywhere near perfect when it comes to tracking you. If you are on this list I might have tracked you and didn't think you should be a candidate. However, I might not have tracked you and just don't know you. I'm also happy to be convinced that I was wrong if you aren't on the list and should have been according to you.
However, there are going to be rules and here they are:
- From Monday November 14 at 8:00am ET to Friday November 19 at 6pm ET, there will be an open enrollment time. This is enrollment to be a candidate to be considered. No more, no less. If you have been in existence less than 12 months, don't bother to apply. If you don't meet the categories above, don't bother to apply. But otherwise, if you're interested, bother to apply.
- If you are interested in being a candidate, let me know of your interest and I'll send you a questionnaire that MUST be FULLY filled out or I'll just ignore you. Last year, during the enrollment period, I asked people to just answer a few questions. I had a 10-day window last year and 88 companies asked to be part of the Watchlist consideration. Except that, 67 of them didn't answer the questions that I explicitly asked them to and they were dumped immediately. Twenty-one of them did answer the questions, about half made the candidates list and 4 of them actually were Watchlist winners. So there is a value in this. You'll have until November 26, 2011 at 6pm ET to fill out the questionnaire. These are essay questions, not multiple choices. Some of the questions are confidential, most are not. I need them to write the reviews if you are a winner
The process is simple:
- When the enrollment period opens, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Indicate your interest in being considered as a candidate for the CRM Watchlist 2012. Please tell me in a paragraph why you qualify for the CRM Watchlist 2012.
- I will then send you the questionnaire and I'm asking you to answer all 9 questions fully. The 9 questions are based on the criteria set out above. Send it back to me before November 26 at 6pm. This really isn't a lot of time since Thanksgiving is November 25 and that really means it needs to get in on November 24, most likely but you do have until Friday, November 26 at 6pm.
Of course, I reserve the right to not put you on the list even if you submit the document. This is an admissions form so to speak. Admission to candidacy. No more. No less.
I'm on the List. What Do I Do Next?
Well, the answer is...nothing and something optional that would be wise. If you're on the list, I've been tracking you for some time during this year. That means I know enough about you to put you on the candidates list. There are a number of companies that aren't on the list that I've been tracking too. However, here's the deal. The questionnaire that I reference above? Its optional for you, but I'd like you to think about filling it (as many of you on the list did last year).
I'm human and right now, my perception of you is shaped by my perception of you. Filling in the questionnaire shifts that a little toward the perception of you that you want me to have, which gives you a better chance of winning if it's convincing.
Not only that, but it also means that what I report on might come from that questionnaire rather than something I choose from my own resources. Also, it might correct a misperception that I have or incorrect information.
Plus, honestly, even though you're on the list, some of you have done a horrible job of staying in touch or getting in touch. Which means you probably aren't even aware that you're on the list of candidates so this is falling on deaf ears. Unless you're doing a great job of monitoring you social web traffic. Heh. Heh.
Of course, its up to you, whether it's worth it to spend the time to make the list or to give me a good idea of who and what you are. As I said, I already track you, so you can let me roll with my stuff. But I'd seriously consider it.
So here's what you do.
- If you see your name on the list and you want to fill out the form send me a note at email@example.com. I have this nagging thought that I might send the forms to the companies that I have a contact with already but not those who I don't. Since I have no idea who to reach at those companies. And, truthfully, don't want to make the effort to find out. Too much work.
- The due date for the forms will be Friday, December 9, 2011. Nothing will be considered after that.
I guess its time to get ready for the season. Only 100 days and pitchers and catchers report. Oh, wrong season.
One more time. Time to get ready now for the CRM Watchlist 2012 season. So please, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you're a vendor on the list and you want to fill out the optional form - or, if you're not on the list and you want to fill out the mandatory form. The latter have until Friday November 19 at 6pm ET to get me their email. I'll get you the form. The non-list companies have until November 26 at 6pm ET to get me the forms. The list companies have until December 9 at 6pm ET to get me the forms.
I mean, good luck!