SCRMish Thoughts - A Look Back at 1st Half of 2010

I've been doing some thinking about the 1st half of 2010 and have some observations, some of which deserve a probably longer treatment than I'm about to give them and some of them that only need a sentence or two.  They are not entirely random but they are a series of slightly disconnected thoughts on what's occurred in 2010 re: SCRM/CRM.
Written by Paul Greenberg, Contributor

I've been doing some thinking about the 1st half of 2010 and have some observations, some of which deserve a probably longer treatment than I'm about to give them and some of them that only need a sentence or two.  They are not entirely random but they are a series of slightly disconnected thoughts on what's occurred in 2010 re: SCRM/CRM. Keep in mind they are off the cuff. If you have other reflections on the first half, please let me know them. What stood out to you?  This is a big big year for SCRM and its worth thinking about halfway so we can make it better for the rest of the year. Remember, CRM Evolution 2010 is coming up August 2-4 in NY at the Marriott Marquis. Get your butts there so we can blab about all these developments.

Here goes:

The Biggest Picture

  • As of midyear 2010, Social CRM has been established as a legitimate section of the CRM market.   We have an industry accepted set of definitions (here's one - mine and here's another - Mike Fauscette's); we have a series of projected use cases with Altimeter's work earlier this year, and we have the first crack at a set of criteria to identify leaders and a projected market size, through Gartner's SCRM Magic Quadrant, a work in progress.  We have companies exploring the idea of a strategy and using the technologies of CRM and social software to provide customer input and output channels - though its rarely called SCRM in any holistic sense. SCRM is now established as part of mainstream business thinking and increasingly as a practical solution in part and to a lesser extent, as a whole. Its no longer just a concept or abstraction.
  • The conversation around SCRM is also falling into some of the same bad patterns that beset CRM. There is far too much nasty self-aggrandizing blather that denigrates other people and doesn't belong in a rational discourse. Traditional CRM has had this problem for years. Amidst the fruitful back and forth, there are several chiming in who are simply out for their own advancement at the expense of others. They are more character assassins than they are participants in debate and definition. They aren't moving things forward. They are holding the conversation back. Simply put, this needs to stop. Now.
  • The number of vendor offerings in SCRM or some related facet is increasing exponentially.  What makes them interesting is that both from the CRM side and the social side, there are some that are approaching what you would imagine SCRM to be technologically - as fully evolved offerings where social and CRM are thoroughly interwoven - not two different products integrated.  More on that later.
  • There has some movement in the convergence of SCRM and Enterprise 2.0. Thought leaders particularly Sameer Patel and Dion Hinchcliffe, both focused on the E20 space, have been writing about it.  Practitioner companies are working on developing strategies for internal and external collaboration that approximate it.  Vendors are extending their solutions - more typically from E20 to SCRM than the other way around. I have to admit, I expected this one.  All in all, convergence is a real possibility and its now not just a possible trend, its happening. Exciting.
  • There is an increasing interest by major enterprises in exploring collaboration and innovation  - with value co-creation at the heart of the discussion. While seemingly a bit high flying, it actually isn't. We are seeing a growth of marketplaces for vendors - pretty much the entire enterprise software world has them now to institutions like Connect and Develop at Procter and Gamble to the wildly successful Innocentive - the 160,000 strong scientist and engineer innovation/co-creation based social network. The interest skyrocketed the first half of 2010.

Thought Leadership

  • The development speed of thought leadership in SCRM has been meteoric this year.  For example, while 18 mos ago I could have counted the SCRM thought leadership - the most public of it at least - on the fingers of one hand - among them at that time Brent Leary and Mike Fauscette, now there are not only a set of then unknown individuals but even a loosely organized group called the AC - not the cable TV AC but the Social CRM Accidental Community (twitter handle is scrm_ac) (get it? S-C-R-M A-C?) - among those are Mitch Lieberman, Mark Tamis, Brian Vellmure, Wim Rampen, Prem Kumar, Scott Rogers, Mike Boysen, Michael Krigsman, Paul Sweeney.
  • Probably the individual thought leader who had the fastest ascent to the top is Esteban Kolsky, a former Gartner analyst, who's words are pretty much always golden and his humor pretty much always funny.  Ironically, he was pretty close to the top anyway but the last six months have just solidified him as one of the top guys in the space.  His name is mentioned everywhere now.
  • I would have to say that the institution gaining the most influence in the space is the Altimeter Group, largely due to the work of Ray Wang and Jeremiah Owyang. Both highly respected analysts in different areas in their Forrester Group years, their current combo makes them outright powerful and with the extremely well known Charlene Li (her new book, Open Leadership is da bomb and loaded with case studies to prove its point) at the helm, they've become a serious force to be reckoned with. Serious. Force.
  • There are some more hidden gems in the SCRM thought leadership space who don't have the same visibility as thought leaders but who are insightful and paying serious attention to the space. They aren't publicity seekers - just smart. Bernard Dupperin, Laurence Buchanan (CAP Gemini's CRM chieftain in EMEA) are names to watch for. Because we are all so friggin' focused on the enterprise we don't pay enough attention to small business. Brent Leary does and he is the uncontested thought leader in SMB SCRM.  The last six months have locked and loaded that. Brent actually is highly visible but he owns the space he's in. He's more of a public jewel than a hidden gem.
  • There is a younger group (Gen Yers) of prominents (I don't want to say influencers yet, though that wouldn't be an unfair characterization) that showed up in the Social CRM world in 2010 that are insightful, very good writers, showing keen knowledge of the space they are in and, coolest of all, have a visible passion for it.  I would have to put Jacob Morgan of Chess Media and Maria Ogneva of Attensity at the top of the current list - they are not only very smart but easily the most prolific writers of the younger set.  Two up and comers in this, who need to write a considerable amount more, are Lauren Hall Stigerts of nGenera and Blake Landau of BlueKiwi.  Noticeably, with the exception of Jacob they are all part of the vendor universe.
  • The vendors are generating some of the thought leaders too and the view of vendors is beginning to change so that a number of employees of those vendors are being accepted as thought leaders, despite their "origins."  The last six months has seen not only the above but people like Chief Scientist at Lithium, Michael Wu, who actually is doing key stuff on influencers - and how to define them - rather than the pat crap that says Retweet equals Twitter influence.  Also, Mitch Lieberman, now on his own, established himself as a thought leader at SugarCRM.  "Vendorhood" (new word) is no longer an onus for getting original thinking accepted.

The Vendors and Technology

  • The Social CRM market now has a Gartner Magic Quadrant which you can get here from Jive or here from Lithium.  I applaud the effort and by the Gartner criteria, their winners, Jive and Lithium, belong to the upper right leaders quadrant. My criteria are somewhat different and have no real leaders, though this doesn't decrease my extremely high regard and outright recommendation of both Jive and Lithium as community platforms with the capacity to integrate with CRM applications.  I think the Gartner Magic Quadrant is a work in progress.
  • On Jive and Lithium.  Each of their rises in the SCRM world in the last 6 months has been meteoric. While they seem to be competitive, they actually function differently.  In short, with the caveat that this is entirely simplistic, think of it this way.  Lithium B2C and outside in communities.  Jive B2B and inside out communities. Both great; both moving toward the other's approaches' both different.
  • By far the biggest surprise over the last six months has been the rather amazing Social CRM product that CDC Software's Pivotal has come out with. They have what I would say is the most tightly interwoven Social CRM product that has been produced to date, closer than any other company to actual SCRM.  For more on it, you can check it.  While amazing, there's one puzzling issue with it to me. Its ONLY on-premise, which given the interest in the cloud and value of SaaS as an option is a surprising decision - and not really a great one.
  • By the end of last year, Radian6 owned the social media monitoring buzz and was the alpha dog as a resultl But from the beginning of this year, the level of competition has stepped up to the point of being a real threat to Radian6's primo position. Companies like Attensity and the acquired-by-Lithium-Scout Labs and 4-5 others are working themselves into leadership positions with seriously high caliber products that can directly compete with Radian6.
  • Perhaps the greatest transformation when it comes to a vendor's culture was the positive shocker of the transformation of SAP that was unveiled at Sapphire 2010.  They simply now seem to truly get it. What this means for their SCRM products remain to be seen but the company's culture is truly aligned with the ability to make the transformations necessary in the changing business environment we are now dealing with.
  • There is far faster movement than I ever would have thought from the Forrester designated process-centered CRM companies like Sword-Ciboodle, and Pegasystems.  Pegasystems acquired CRM vendor Chordiant to make a major move into the SCRM space. Sword-Ciboodle though has taken it one step further moving into the SCRM space via the release of Ciboodle Crowd designed explicitly to integrate traditional service agentry with service communities. I'll be doing a more extensive look at this later on.  Suffice to say for a company that was voted a leader by in process-based CRM not too long ago, this is a major leap. And one that I actually think might be important for the industry as a whole  - as well as them and their customers of course.
  • Newcomer on the scene, completely unknown to me 6 mos ago, Nimble, has more promise in its alpha than many of the self-styled SCRM solutions I've seen out there that are supposedly polished.  Created by Jon Ferrara, who also delivered Goldmine back in the 1990s and left it before it got bloated, Nimble, from what Jon, a genuinely nice person, showed me, actually seems to have SCRM down when it comes to developing enabling technologies - with some early stage caveats of course.
  • Cisco is now beginning to show itself on the stage - though at the moment as an collaboration platform (Quad). But given their acquisitions over the last 3 years, their investment in telepresence, unified communications and collaboration technologies, plus their customer experience friendly Eos system, gives me pause about Cisco, who I had thought backed off from their trajectory onto the SCRM or at least social collaboration stage. But they are right back now as we motor thru 2H 2010.
  • Oracle seems to have almost radio silent this year, when it comes to SCRM for reasons that I really am not sure of. I've heard little about them over the last six months.  My guess? They are getting ready for Fusion, which is a big deal for them, and that must be an overriding mandate. All is being subsumed to that.  Do I know that? No.  Is this masked information that I actually know and am disguising?  I wish, but no.  Its simply speculation, but what isn't a guess is that have been incredibly quiet.
  • This one is about something over the last three months,  not six.  When I first wrote a post on the iPad, I wondered about CRM and social uses of the iPad - which at the time was a pleasant fantasy, but there was no reality. Then I wrote a second post on it and found that, hey, we're seeing a small rush here. Since that time EVERY CRM related vendor has pretty much created an iPad specific version or has some vertical use of the iPad related to CRM for their customers.  That means NetSuite (actually one of their partners), SugarCRM, SAP, Oracle - pretty much you name it. Even Microsoft partner iEnterprise, came up with Microsoft Dynamics CRM for the iPad.  The adoption by the enterprise and CRM/social vendors was WAY faster than I thought it could ever be.
  • (UPDATE:) RightNow did something that went beyond just SCRM with their announcement of the Cloud Services Agreement - which despite its unfortunate acronym (CSA) is groundbreaking and a standard for the industry. Its "vendor skin in the game" approach is something that needs to be emulated by everyone - not just software vendors.  Odd, with all the focus on SCRM, this is still what I consider landmark from RightNow.
  • The speed of technology use is escalating and we had two events through early July that I consider important in how technology was used.  First, the Social CRM training in February run by my company, which had 71 people from 6 countries who managed to get to the DC area in the middle of the worst snowstorm in decades - and there were 2200+ tweets from that event. The use of twitter as a broadcasting technology was phenomenal with Esteban Kolsky being the top tweeter - and he wasn't even there. The second was the recent Global Social CRM Meetup run by Tatyana Kanzaveli using Cisco TelepresenceHere's a picture of it.  Both of these were important in the kinds of media that are now being used to broadcast the SCRM industry activities and the successful broadcasting. They were highlights of the first six months.

These observations are off the top of my head. In fact, it took longer to do the links than it did to write the post. But there are some real surprises and some good things that have emerged so far.  Plus we have nearly a half year to go.  So I'm expecting some very cool things as SCRM matures.  I'm just glad to be part of it.

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