March has been one of the more incredible months for sheer action when it came to the world of CRM. First, every CRM-related company, large, small or medium had some announcements that were actually significant; then the social gang decided to get in on the CRM action, declaring Twitter "Social CRM" and some of the CRM oldies but goodies decided to get in on the social "thang" trying to find ways of figuring out how good ol' operational CRM fit in - or didn't. I was busy as....hell throughout the month rockin' through 5 cities (counting NY twice) and doing 5 speaking engagements - and moving my miles for 2009 up to nearly 30,000 already. I even went to Chicago and did two....webinars. Plus I have a really great business-personal announcement too. Which those of you who use Twitter - a.k.a. Social CRM-NOT, or Facebook will already know. AND some really good stuff got published that I'm going to point you to.
So, we action, drama, intimacy and love here, people. Let's get this party started.
Get This Party Started
Okay, I figured that I'd get this party started with a "Get This Party Started" by Pink video - though clearly the video isn't Pink's official one. If you'd rather see Pink's version, click on this to go to it.
First the Personal Business Stuff
The most exciting thing - for me at least - being a narcissistic sort of being - is that I've been asked to be the Chairman of the CRM Magazine conference this year. This year meaning in 2009 - and on August 24-26 in NY. And, I accepted. I'm totally pumped for this. We're already just about done with the speakers and their slots and will be announcing them this coming week (I think). Sponsors are next on my agenda so all you vendors out there, pony up, babies!! You won't be disappointed - or maybe you will - I can't speak for you. I have to admit, I have a few trepidations because I've never chaired a conference before and I'm finding out that its a LOT of work. A LOT. A WHOLE F-ING LOT. But its a blast because I get to work with David Myron, and Josh Weinberger and Marshall Lager and the whole CRM Magazine crew - and they are a crew. They are also incredibly cool to hang out with. Believe me. No wait. Don't believe me. Come to NY (what a segue!), get a conference ticket and see for yourself. The only thing I'll tell you about the conference right now is that there is going to be a Live Performance of CRM Playaz at the conference with me, Brent Leary and some selected guests. I'll post links to this as soon as I have them.
I just finished a slew of presentations ranging from the Linkage Conference on Customer Value in FL, to a private presentation for GLG Group private equity and hedge fund customers to webinars for InsideView and Sword Ciboodle and finally an incredibly well produced, classy effort by Liminal Group, run by the inimitable Scudder Fowler. The latter event which I did in NY at the knockout beautiful Asia Society - amazing venue - was co-sponsored by Sage, who of course you know well from their CRM products and partnered with both CRM Magazine and InsideCRM. Josh Weinberger did an astonishing series of tweets via that ever-controversial CHANNEL (not social CRM application) Twitter that just rocked (or as Gen Yers and pretend Gen Yers like me say RAWKED). Here's the current way to access the four of them that could be accessed - needless to say though of course if it were needless I wouldn't say it - dumbest expression in history - which is why I'll keep using it. Where was I? Oh yeah, The GLG one can't be seen and I can't find the Linkage one (but I'm working on it) but here's the links to all the others and the appropriate notes.
In order of appearance (click on image to go to the appropriate page) (Again, these are for archived presentations - ignore the registration note on the images)
Sword Ciboodle Webinar: Serving them right: Maximizing the value of customers in a downturn - and beyond
InsideView Webinar: Real Customer Insights and Strategies in the Year of the YoYo
This is a rebroadcast (a very high quality one) of my presentation on The Era of the Social Customer. Also presenting at this event are Dave Van Toor, SVP of Sage CRM, who I've spoken of on these pages, and Penelope Trunk, a Gen X Business Leader who is an expert in managing Gen Y in the workplace. Here's a link to a sample of my stuff at this conference.
NOTE. This one costs $25.00 to see the entire rebroadcast. But, if you type in CRM20 its 20% off - meaning $20.00. The times and dates are:
Thursday, April 16, 2009 - 12pm - 2pm ET
Thursday, April 23, 2009 - 12pm - 2pm ET
Worth it. really. Click on the diagram and see the page for details and registration.
PERSONAL BUSINESS ANNOUNCEMENT
This one has me psyched! I've been honored with the chairmanship of the DestinationCRM/CRM Magazine national confab in August this year. That means that I get to speak, be MC, play around, put together the speakers lists (we have over 130 submissions/requests to speak), develop the program, play around, help drive sponsors and attendance and, play around. We have so many speakers of note and quality that we have three tracks this year. I'll keep you posted but for now just let me tell you that:
- Its August 24-26, 2009
- Its in NYC at the Marriott Marquis
- There are marquis names speaking (what a segue)
- I don't have the pricing but do have the sponsorship package.
- I'm totally pumped about this.
Know why I'm pumped? I get to work with some of my favorite people in the world of CRM (and, in the world for that matter). That would be David Myron, who is the Editor in Chief; Josh Weinberger, who is the Managing Editor; and Marshall Lager, who is the Senior Editor. Truthfully, that's even more appealing than the conference itself, which is entirely exciting. They are wonderful people who are just a joy to hang with.
Status of the Microsoft-Salesforce Shootout
I figured it was time to let you know where the MSFT-SFDC configuration Shootout stood since it seems to have disappeared. Seems to have might be the operant term here. Its alive and well. And proceeding. For those of you who don't remember, about a year ago, I was upset with Steve Ballmer's declaration about the badness and "non-existence" of salesforce.com's configuration tools and the goodness of the MSFT CRM configuration tools so I put it to the test. Microsoft and salesforce.com agreed to a configuration shootout with each of them providing a team who would build certain processes and tasks and an independent panel of judges would decide which one did it better. The results would be announced.
Well, the rules are done; the tasks/processes are done; both Microsoft and salesforce.com have had them for a couple of months (the slow response is my fault not theirs. I've been on the road. Both have been exceptionally cooperative). Next steps are the following:
- Finalize the agreement between the companies on the rules with the judges.
- Start the shootout
- Declare winner
- Publicize results.
I'm estimating that we're either going to do this in the next month or so - OR we'll announce the results at the DestinationCRM/CRM Magazine conference in August. That's a little bit self-serving on my part, but might still be a cool thing. Any preferences? Next 4-6 weeks? CRM conference? Who cares? Let me know and I'll bow to the will of the people.
There is a news plethora, panoply, and pandemic. Let's look at it.
- The Open Cloud Manifesto - To a ginormous thud, IBM announced an "Open Cloud Manifesto" which basically seems to be a response to Amazon, Google, salesforce.com and others leading the cloud computing market - such as it is at the moment. The OCM was notable for the presence of a few like SAP, Cisco, EMC and others, but even more notable by the absence of all the market leaders. For more on this by me and others go to my blog posting on ZDNET. Also, in that ZDNET posting, I left one important (and really good) take on it by Josh Greenbaum. His perspective is right on the money. His second to last paragraph: "This is truly a case of getting so far out in front of a nascent market that it starts looking a little silly. Can we please organize our efforts around defining value for customers, instead of moving quickly to create a vendor war over a market that still needs a lot more careful thinking and definition?" Amen, Brother Josh.
- Sage Announces SalesLogix Online Community - Sage continues its accelerating thrust into becoming a "practice what you preach and provide" CRM (enterprise) vendor. Yesterday, they announced a SalesLogix Online Community for SalesLogix customers that does what communities do - engages customers. This is another forward thinking move by Sage in their efforts (successful so far) to revamp so that they are what they eat. A great move and welcome one. Here's a video tutorial on how it works that's worth a look.
- Salesforce Adds Twitter to ServiceCloud - Aside from the sex appeal of this offering - kind of like Brad Pitt teaming up with Angelina "Twitter" Jolie after he's already been with Jennifer "Facebook" Aniston - this is a great move by salesforce.com because it provides a decentralized channel-friendly approach to their ServiceCloud offering. While this is not the first offering like this - SAP seized that ground months ago - what it does do is both provide a useful capability to the customer service offering, cement salesforce.com's credentials as a full CRM suite provider (in addition to their platform offerings) - though their marketing apps are still weak - as are most of the CRM suite providers' marketing apps - and, most importantly, add to their portfolio for innovation leadership. I'm going to be writing a ZDNET blog entry on this, but, suffice to say here, salesforce.com might be moving back into the leadership of a CRM 2.0/Social CRM offering with the integrations with external social networks, the Ideaforce. offerings, and a number of other pieces they've added to the puzzle in the last few months. I'm truly impressed. I was worried for awhile that they were becoming too conservative a company in the places they shouldn't be - but I'm starting to think I shouldn't have been concerned.
- NetSuite Joins PaaS Battle Royal - On March 19, NetSuite unveiled SuiteCloud, their Platform-as-a-Service offering, entering the already crowded fray. This took their already well regarded NS-BOS operating system and combined it with a number of new tools and the SuiteCloud Developers Network, a network similar to the SDN at SAP or the developers network at SugarCRM (is that also SDN?). What makes their offering interesting is that it builds upon the NetSuite suite that already exists and, unlike the PaaS offerings of most of the vendors, it covers the enterprise applications gamut - from ERP to CRM so to speak (STS). NS-BOS was already an unusual offering because of it's purpose - building vertically specific apps for NetSuite through mostly its partner channel. There is more news coming from these guys soon. Stay tuned here and ZDNET.
- Sage (Again?) Adds SalesLogix Today Appliance to Offerings - SalesLogix Today is an internet plug-and-play appliance which means its a pre-configured appliance with SalesLogix locked and loaded. While I can't say this is a bad idea, I also am not as excited about this one as I was about the Online Community. This simply puts them in the camp of Cast Iron for CRM offerings - and Cast Iron has a big lead there - with applications pre-loaded on their appliance for salesforce.com, NetSuite, RightNow, Oracle CRM OnDemand, Microsoft Dynamics CRM - all as SaaS offerings and a host of on-premise offerings too. Then again, Cast Iron doesn't offer SalesLogix..... All in all, won't be easy and I'm not sure of what a good value this is. I'm going to need to be convinced. Brent Leary has a box and is running a test. I'll report back when I hear what he has to say.
- WhasSUP, SAP? - SAP continued its smart mobile strategy (I wish they'd be as smart with SaaS) by forming a partnership with Sybase to create a mobile Business Suite 7. Sybase? Sybase? The database Sybase? The one that you haven't heard a word from forever? THAT Sybase? Yep. The very same. Interestingly Sybase has one of the most advanced mobile platforms on the planet with Sybase iAnywhere - their Sybase Unwired Platform (SUP). This allows you to take any mobile application and, get this, on the fly, adapt it to the mobile operating system or platform that any device has on it. So you can take an SAP CRM application that has been optimized for mobile delivery and send it to a Windows Mobile, Blackberry, iPhone and Nokia Symbian phone simultaneously and it will in real time (that's what on the fly means here, dudes) be usable on that phone's operating system. No special moves made. On the fly. Sybase's mobile platform has been named #1 by Gartner this year. SAP, in conjunction with their RIM partnership, is moving to take a strong position - and maybe even lead - in the mobile CRM/enterprise applications battle -which is a big, big deal. Obviously, time and results will indicate whether they are leading or not but right now, this is one smart move. And...Sybase? Sybase?
- Microsoft-Neighborhood America Integration: Social & CRM Integration Continues - This one is not suprising and surprising. Neighborhood America, one of my favorite companies in the world with great culture and a very, very good platform allied with Microsoft CRM Public Sector and integrated their social networking platform with Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Not surprising is that Neighborhood America is involved in a significant step forward for the CRM 2.0/Social CRM strategists out there. Surprising is that Microsoft took a huge, though a little tentative step and was the one who led the way. Not surprising though, is that it starts in the public sector. With the Obama Administration firmly committed to open standards, transparency and citizen participation, public sector is not only one of the natural places for CRM and social platforms to meet up but is of real importance in the restoration of faith in the government. Neighborhood America has a lot of background in public comment so they know something about the public sector. They also have the current president of the CRM Association on board, Michael Thomas, and they already had a proclivity towards CRM so their role in pushing forward in this integration is not at all a surprise to me. Microsoft on the other hand is just starting to feel its new innovation legs as they wobble back on land so they are a surprising player but a welcome one in the evolution toward CRM 2.0. To take a look at the initial integration go to the Microsoft Public Sector Idea Bank.
- Helpstream Named "Cool Vendor of 2009" by Gartner and 2009 Rising Star in Customer Service by CRM Magazine - What can I say here? I'm gonna crow a bit. I KNEW I was right. I had these guys pegged for something special for a good long time now. Top-flight application, ownership of the category Customer Service 2.0 or Community-driven Customer Service; great knowledge of what 21st century customers needed - and how companies needed to respond. Ate their own dogfood. Great management (personable too!) with guys like Tony Nemelka and Bob Warfield, among others. All in all, my closest thing to Application Nirvana 2.0. Now the rest of the world is figuring this out. I'm really happy for these guys. They deserve the recognition. Of course, now they have to keep deserving the recognition so to speak. Their Rising Star award isn't up online yet, but is out with the April 2009 CRM Magazine print edition.
I'm done. See you guys with Episode #4 (later this week) of CRM Playaz. Got some announcements around that too. A bunch.