Reviewing the 2009 CRM Forecast - Not Bad, Not Great

We're heading into that inevitable  year end, "let's forecast the next year so that we can all be proven ridiculously wrong" state that we pundit types all end up in.  That's only one level less than inebriated or for those of you less articulate, drunk.
Written by Paul Greenberg, Contributor on

We're heading into that inevitable  year end, "let's forecast the next year so that we can all be proven ridiculously wrong" state that we pundit types all end up in.  That's only one level less than inebriated or for those of you less articulate, drunk. Getting to the "oops, wrong again" state is a lot less enjoyable, though better for driving.

That said, it's time for me to do what I do every year which is to man up and admit what I did wrong, while of course, gloating in what I did right.  Sadly, there is always probably more to man up to than to gloat over. Though maybe not....

This becomes the first in a series of three postings - this is #1, #2 is my forecast for 2010 and #3 is my Companies to Watch list which includes some commentary on how those companies from last year's list did. Some of which is sad. Gloomy face.  Some of which is happy. Smiley face.

Actually, before I do a.....

Personal Note

I've often said when teaching or speaking or writing that the reason I like CRM is that "its the only science of business that attempts to reproduce an art of life" which is how to interact with others in a way that is meaningful throughout life.  Aside from being entirely true and heartfelt, it also allows me a lot of latitude in picking metaphors from the "art of life" part of the CRM equation.  Plus, of course, lets me talk about my passion for baseball and the Yankees in particular.

So, imagine my delight when I saw this quote from Derek Jeter, NY Yankees shortshop, a smart mid-30s kid who has become one of the best baseball players in history as a player and a true role model in how he conducts himself every day of his life. He calls his parents every day to his credit. Its not often I admire a sports figure who is 25 years my junior, but in his case I do.

In any case, I read something he said in the Sports Illustrated article on him in the most recent Sports Illustrated that named him the SI Sportsman of the Year, which, in the world of sports, is an actual honor because it takes into account your on and off the field demeanor and actions. Here's what he said, which is a lesson to those of you using social media to brand yourself.  The quote:

I never liked people who talked about themselves all the time, gloat. If you're accomplished and have done things, people will talk about it for you. I don't think you have to point it out. I'm not judging anybody. That's just the way I am."

I know that this rather humble statement is the way that it should be done. PR agencies take note in particular.

See, there's the "art of life" translating to the "science of business." One again, latitude and license.

Seeing 2009 in the Rear...view Mirror

Without much further ado, let's take a holiday look at how my 2009 forecast turned out after all.  The plan is to put the particular prediction - with the number that indicated the likelihood of the occurrence - all guesswork by the way - remaining e.g. 1-10 in parentheses.  Based on the particular "what I said will happen" I'll point out what actually happened.

  1. (8)Mobile CRM will be in increasing demand by sales organizations in particular - and vendors will continue to invest in it, downturn or not - I was close but not entirely perfect on this one. On the one hand, there have been an upsurge of releases in mobile CRM in 2009 with Maximizer releasing to all platforms especially with SFA; SAP allying with both Sybase and their iAnywhere platform which pushes content out to any mobile platform regardless of operating system and their actual release of the RIM/SAP alliance mobile SFA application promised in 2008; Oracle with social marketing applications for the iPhone; salesforce with a REST API that is designed to improve mobile; Sage with Saleslogix for the Blackberry; and too many others to mention here (so vendors not mentioned, please, stay off my case).  This is a long way from what's been out there in the past.  However, on the downside, I have NO IDEA WHATSOEVER if sales organizations were asking for mobile apps. That was a shot in the dark as it seems to turn out. I've neither heard nor seen anything that indicates that sales organizations said a thing about mobile apps, frankly. But my heart was in the right place. RATING: A solid triple to left, scoring two runs. Left-Brainer: 4.25/5.0; Right Brainer: This is wicked cool!
  2. (6)Large enterprises will buy CRM 2.0 tools; SMBs will look to simplicity in CRM and dabble in social tools - divergent approaches - While this is kinda true, tho' of course, its now Social CRM, not CRM 2.0 tools as of "Stake in the Ground", I'm not really sure this was a trend and frankly if I were to be thinking about this again, I doubt I'd call it one. I think that companies bought CRM tools, and social tools including the enterprise. I think that companies were and are intrigued with the idea of capturing unstructured data and populating their CRM customer records with it. I think that companies want to continue to operationalize their processes and actions so that they can devote more time customers. I think they want to engage their customers. But do I think they get Social CRM as a unified field theory - nope. Not yet. More of them are interested than before.  Small businesses weigh a bit more heavily on the operational side of CRM than the interactions and engagement part but enterprises are not a lot better on their view of the integrated whole. RATING: a weak grounder to short, force out at second. Runners don't advance.  Left Brainer: 2.25/5.0; Right Brainer: Kinda lame, Paulo. Actually....really lame.
  3. (6) The debate over REST v. SOA as the small business architecture of choice will heat up in 2009 - Right on one count, not entirely right on the other. REST gained huge ground in the last year with SAP, Oracle, Salesforce.com and many more SOA architected apps/services companies built REST APIs, recognizing that REST was not only here to stay but a potentially dominating (if not dominant) architecture that was important in the small and grand schemes of things.  However, there wasn't much of a debate about it frankly.  Most companies even those tied to SOA as an architecture, understood REST's value. Sage tried to pick a fight with SOA but that didn't go anywhere. However, that said, Sage was also the first serious player/vendor to really commit to REST as a primary architecture and it was a wise decision.  RATING: a near home run that bounces off the top of the wall and back onto the field for a double, driving in a run. Left Brainer: 4.0/5.0; Right Brainer: Very smooth, my man, very smooth.
  4. (9)Integration between traditional CRM and Web 2.0 applications, features, functions and characteristics will accelerate AND (7)Social software companies will increasingly integrate with CRM applications through APIs and plug-ins - I'm combining two of my predictions which were beyond on the money here. I nailed it.  But why I made them separate line items in the forecast? I can only scratch my head. I don't know. This year was characterized by the traditional CRM vendors (e.g. Oracle, SAP, salesforce.com, Microsoft, NetSuite, RightNow, etc) and the social vendors who are providing apps and services ranging from community platforms (e.g. Lithium) to social networking platforms (e.g. Neighborhood America) to social media monitoring tools (e.g. Radian6) to social business apps (e.g. Jive) to sales intelligence tools (e.g. Insideview) all decided that they were in heat and they started to, ahem, couple. Meaning we saw a proliferation of APIs for integration that began with social platforms/apps/services and channels like Twitter and neighborhoods like Facebook and combined with salesforce.com, SugarCRM, NetSuite, Oracle, SAP, Microsoft etc.  The traditional vendors were no slouch in this department either with salesforce.com announcing Chatter, Oracle a hybrid kind of build and integrate approach, NetSuite linking to both Twitter and partnering with InsideView, SAP announcing a Twitter integration, Microsoft and Neighborhood America developing a joint Public Sector product and service and SugarCRM integrating social features into their 5.5 release.  There also was a proliferation of companies calling themselves Social CRM which while a good thing for the branding of the tag, Social CRM was not entirely true of any of the companies that called themselves that.  But all in all, 2009 was a banner year for Social and CRM integration, which of course, makes me very happy. RATING: A three run 450 foot homer to dead center. Breaks the game open. Left Brainer: 4.9/5.0; Right Brainer: OMG, This is just SOOOOOO AWESOME!!!
  5. (10)Software as a Service becomes pre-eminent delivery platform for CRM - Judging from the (10) I gave it, I must have been high - though I don't use drugs (really). Sadly, I can claim that I simply meant the most talked about and fastest growing a.k.a. pre-eminent, but, to be honest, I meant predominant - meaning the most prevalent - even more than on-premise.  But, if Gartner numbers are to be trusted, 2009 gave SaaS 24% of the market which hardly qualifies as predominant, so that would kind of wreck my prediction. Though in my defense, the SaaS market was the fastest growing market with an 18.8 percent increase in revenues from 2008.  Now, with the cloud becoming of real interest here and with SaaS as its delivery platform, I suspect my "prediction" will be right a lot sooner than Gartner thinks, but I was probably overstating the case.  Know what? I'm invoking the Pundit Immunity Clause here.RATING: Pundit Immunity Clause. Left Brainer: Pundit Immunity Clause. Right Brainer: Pundit Immunity Clause.
  6. (7)Cloud computing becomes an increasingly important way of “doing business” and storing information - I was right about this wasn't I? The interest in cloud computing translated into incredible 2009 revenue predictions from the probably generously enthusiastic Gartner Group - $56.3 billion for this year and $150 billion by 2013.  Minimally, whether true or not, it reflects the excitement around the cloud. Not only that, every company and their children were attempting to grab a piece of cumulus or two.  Microsoft and Azure, Amazon - who, frankly, at this time seems to be the leader in the space, has its EC2 platform, salesforce.com is claiming that everything they produce is "a cloud" (see "Chatter as the 4th cloud) when in fact they do have a cloud framework, but its not the four cloud apps they have; Sun (now of course, in the hands of Oracle). We can go on, but won't. This is long enough already. Not only are the vendors producing, but the use of the cloud by the consumer keeps growing (think Google's gmail for example, which as of July 2009, had 146 million users).  The U.S. government, led by U.S. CIO Vivek Kundra and General Service's Administration (GSA) CIO Casey Coleman are leading a massive cloud initiative, rolling out apps.gov as a GSA service and also using the cloud to ultimately reduce reliance on physical data centers (23 of them out there at the moment).  All in all, cloud computing adoption has been up over 20% from 2008.  So was I right or was I right?  RATING: ANOTHER triple down the right field line, driving in two.  Left Brainer: 4.5/5.0. Right Brainer: Uh huh. Uh huh. Uhhuhuhhuhuhhuh.
  7. (6)Platform as a Service and Open Source platforms becomes highly competitive and one of the core ways that CRM offers customization capabilities and architecture AND (7)Open Source continues a slow but steady penetration in CRM - though not many new players show up What was I thinking here? First of all, the cloud superseded pure PaaS as an offering, though PaaS offerings such as force.com are powerful. But worse than that, PaaS never competed with Open Source. Open Source as a platform per se became a non-factor. That doesn't mean it wasn't good or useful. Just not one of the most important selection criteria for CRM technology choices. The reasons? First, there is no open source competition. SugarCRM is pretty much the only commercially viable open source platform at this point - Vtiger is making some progress but not enough to compete with SugarCRM. So the selection process is really SugarCRM when the word open source becomes mentioned. Second, most vendors are building in some form of open intellectual property, including source code into their normally proprietary applications. For example, in 2009, SAP got heavily involved in the Eclipse Foundation, which is dedicated to open source development. I can go on, but not here.  Third, keep in mind, in the latest CRM at the Speed of Light, I call open source more of "a license and a culture" than an application architecture . I'm sure there are open source vendors who will debate this and please do and convince me I'm wrong, but even so, that still doesn't tell me of anyone out there beyond SugarCRM who can provide the basis for calling open source even a category for selection.  I wasn't even right about the "not many new players." To my knowledge there were none.  So I was just WRONG about these two. RATING: Struck out on a 2-2 curveball, breaking down and in.  Left Brainer: 1.5/5.0; Right Brainer: Duhhh.
  8. (7)Social characteristics join features & functions as vital pieces of CRM applications - identity, actions, reputation, influence, persuasion - Vital? No. Part of the discussion? Yes. Since Pricewaterhousecoopers issued their 2007 report "How consumer conversation will transform business", the idea of not just the numbers but the influence of individuals has been top of mind for me when it comes to thinking about Social CRM.  When Thomas Vander Wal began to have the discussion of the social stack, it explained to me what in fact were the guiding characteristics of the social customer and what had to be considered in the processes and technologies that were going to be the mainstays of Social CRM support. Well, apparently, while there are a lot of discussions on the value of influence and the refinement of mere numbers that we were using to show "power", the use of those characteristics isn't so prevalent in software. There is the growing use of sentiment analysis, the continued niche field of social network analysis. Some great new tools like PeopleMaps (see my companies to watch in a few days) have created some buzz - and they fall into the influence and persuasion knowledge tools that indicate social characteristics, but they are not all that prevalent a group yet. So.... RATING: "Looks like its gonna drop in for a base...no! What a great catch!. That retires the side." Left Brainer: 2.0/5.0; Right Brainer: BOR-ing.
  9. (9)Authenticity and transparency will become strategically important to companies - This may be hard to quantify exactly or to figure out how I did last year. It is clear that transparency at least is something we're seeing more and more of with the growth of communities like Innocentive which is 125,000 scientists and engineers who solve problems for companies. In order to do so, though, the companies have to expose some of their intellectual property, a bit of transparency which was taboo just a few years ago.  But the companies that work with them, do so willingly. Additionally, we're seeing the growth of a willingness to be authentic, meaning "real" or honest, but it smacks often enough of that kind of fake, salesy authenticity - often of the self-deprecating "I'm such a tool for doing this but..." variety that you get from companies in lieu of actual honesty. Meaning when they do something uncomfortable, they don't really think they're tools.   So I'm not sure how I did here so you know what that means.  RATING: Pundit Immunity Clause (PIC). Left Brainer: PIC; Right Brainer: PIC.
  10. (9) Growth in the public sector for social CRM continues in the face of recession - use of social tools accelerates rapidly in the federal, state and local government in the U.S. and elsewhere This one sure worked. The interest in all federal agencies thanks to the particular nature of this administration in constituent engagement - which is their particular form of Social CRM is being replicated throughout the state and local governments also. The underlying architecture of choice is not SOA particularly but the cloud. Part of the reason is cost reduction. Part of the reason is increased effectiveness. Witness the growing pre-eminence of geospatial projects using cloud based services like Google Earth which are being planned for integration with community and location based channels like Twitter. One that comes to mind that my brother is heavily involved in is Virtual USA born Virtual Alabama.  This program is actually changing the way the government will respond to emergencies and how they will engage the citizenry. All of this is not a local U.S. phenomenon either. Nations like Singapore are investing heavily in providing tools to their citizenry that allow those citizens to provide significant feedback to the government - which is then being acted on.  This makes Singapore, according to the 2009 annual Accenture Leadership Study on Customer Service on matters like these, the most engaged and trusted government in the world. This is becoming increasingly interesting to all governments with experiments or programs for engaging constituents growing worldwide.  RATING: Towering drive into second deck in left field, solo shot.  Left Brainer: 4.5/5.0; Right Brainer: (guest appearance from Christopher Walken here - More Cowbell - "I put on my pants one leg at a time. But after I get my pants on, I make gold records."
  11. (8)Feedback 3.0″ will become an intimate feature of most companies' customer strategy - This one is easy. It didn't unless it was so intimate it reached the "do it but don't tell" level.  Lots of companies and countries gave Feedback 3.0, which isn't just listen and learn but listen, learn and act, plenty of lip service, which I presume means that whoever produces lip balm had a banner year. But once again, not that much was done about it.  Or when it was done, it was done in a siloed way. For example, Comcast, the new proud soon to be owners of NBC Universal, let service rock star Frank Eliason do something remarkable. Over the past three years, he's built a highly effective and paradigmatic alternate service channel using Twitter at Comcast that is beloved by customers and industry leaders. He's set a standard. But unfortunately, the company overall doesn't seem to learn from him.  Consequently with all his ace results because of his listen, learn, act strategy, Comcast overall still sits at the bottom or near the bottom of customers' views when it comes to customer service.  Feedback 3.0 is not an intimate part of Comcast except for the Eliason-managed Twitter channel, nor is it the core service view of very many companies at all, despite their desires for Facebook pages and Twitter channels.  RATING: High pop-up. Infield fly ruled called. Outta there. Left Brainer: 1.75/5.0; Right Brainer: Dude, I'm bummed.
  12. (7)Vendor Relationship Management (VRM) releases its first tools for the customer in 2009 - Being wrong on this one makes me really sad. I'm a VRM fan and have been a promoter of the idea for several years now. Doc Searls to me is the most seminal of the Cluetrain thinkers and VRM is an idea as the "labor movement of the customer" I can get behind. But, once again, I was thwarted in my always sunny VRM forecast with no tools for the customer coming out in 2009 - at least none with three weeks to go for the year. Doc Searls himself even said something akin to this in the ProjectVRM blog in mid-November with the following quote: "The problem is that VRM itself is extremely broad, and still lacks working code that applies to all VRM topics. In the absence of that code - some personal tool as universal in the digital world as the wallet is in the physical one - we end up scattered across many topics."  Now, he didn't mean exactly what I meant, but the spirit is the same. Time for the VRM world to pony up something for the consumers to grab onto.  I worry.  RATING: Easy fly out, right field. Left Brainer: 1.5/5.0; Right Brainer: Dude. Dude. Dude. Sigh.
  13. (100) Yankees will win the 2009 World Series - TOTALLY NAILED this sucker, didn't I? Huh? Huh? I did. I did. I did I did I did. Uh huh.  Uh huh. Uhhuhuhhuhuhhuh. I will nail it again next year as you'll see in my Forecast 2010 piece when it comes out. RATING: WALK OFF GRAND SLAM HOME RUN IN FRONT OF FULL HOUSE AT NEW YANKEE STADIUM TO CLINCH THE WORLD SERIES. Left Brainer: 10.0 of 5.0  Right Brainer: IN DA HOOOOOOOOOUUUUUUUUSSSSEEEE! BBAMFIC (Big Bad Ass MFer In Charge)!!

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