Tag Archives: enterprise applications

The SCRM-E2.0 Convergence: Train Wreck or Chunnel?

On Tuesday January 12th we had discussion on the convergence between SCRM and Enterprise 2.0.

My introduction to the topic summarized what I see as the main issue: SCRM and Enterprise 2.0 are heading in the same direction (customer-centricity), talking about the same issues (engagement), using the same technologies (collaboration), and solving similar problems (culture, politics, adoption) — yet, we pretend we are talking about two very separate, different things. Not only are they very similar, but whether you are collaborating internally among users, or externally with clients, without reaching out to the other constituency it won’t work.  Clients and users are closely tied in a Social world.

The most surprising thing was the answer to a simple question: who among the SCRM practitioners and implementers in the panel and the audience had enabled internal collaboration to support the SCRM changes they had adopted? Among 35-40 people, only one hand went up.  This was reinforced by the avoidance of the concept as I tried to ask more direct questions to that effect – when I asked what should an organization do to support the changes brought on by Social Media adoption and by SCRM implementations, the answer went back to implementing SCRM and the changes it brought to customers.  Although the audience was mostly SCRM, I am sure if I were to ask the E2.0 crowd what  changes they made to their customer-facing processes to reflect the internal changes I would get a similar answer (crickets).

Seriously? No changes necessary?

If this the current state of the convergence, we got lots of work to do to make it happen.  My prediction for 2010 as the year it begins the liftoff may have been a bit ahead of its time (a comment someone in the audience made following the event).

There is no way that either one of the two movements will succeed without the other.  You cannnot have meaningful change in processes dealing with customers (providing better experiences, increasing loyalty) if you don’t alter the way you work.  And altering the way you work without having a significant impact in how you deliver to the client makes almost as much sense (improved collaboration with no effect on delivery).

It is simple, the two shall meet and move forward together for organizations to embrace being social.  No other way around it.

I was searching for an analogy to conceptualize where we are.  I thought of two trains running on the same track, facing each other, full speed ahead.  We see them going to crash — yet we cannot warn them, or alter their course, or avoid the crash.

As I was thinking more and more about it I realized that it is a poor, albeit sensationalist, representation of what the convergence can bring.  Sure, both camps would prefer to have this representation of independence and momentum and a separate end goal.

But it is not like that at all.  The Convergence is more like building the Chunnel.

The underground tunnel between UK and France was built simultaneously digging from both sides.  Each one of them had similar problems to solve, and unique problems to solve.  They both did the best they could to keep the common goal in mind: meeting in the middle.  Now, if we can make two tunnels starting from opposite ends about 50 kilometers apart meet in a specific point in the middle — I am sure we can make two strategic solutions meet halfway and deliver an engaged, customer-centric organization – right?

The Convergence - If it happened once, it can happen again...

I am planning a series of weekly posts for February 2010 that will explore in more detail how to make it happen.  Let me know if you want to chat, converse, or collaborate on that.

What do you think? Possible? Plausible? Doable?  Would love to hear your thoughts…

Things I Don't Want to Hear Anymore in 2010

I was thinking of doing a predictions post, really, but then Paul Greenberg came along and wrote up all my predictions and added some better ones.  So, instead of filling up the streams with more of the same, I thought of a twist to predictions: I won’t tell you what I think it will happen,  I am going to tell you what I hope won’t hear anymore in 2010.

Ready? There are five things I don’t want to hear anymore in2010 (and the reasons why):

Private Cloud – Do you realize that the mere definition of a cloud forbids the existence of a private cloud? A cloud is there to interconnect two or more public applications or networks.  The concept of building a private cloud is a way for IT managers to say they are ahead of the curve, knowledgeable about what is going on, and to make their infrastructure sound hip and advanced.  In reality, anytime they say they have a private cloud they look like a fully dressed clown at a funeral: I am sure the intention is there, but the actions don’t reflect that.  Say you have an open architecture, a services-oriented infrastructure, or a dynamic API-driven platform if you want.  Just don’t call it a private cloud.

Death of Anything – According to my earlier readings today only, 2010 is the year we kill Sales, Marketing, Customer Service, CRM, ERP, Email, Enterprise 2.0, SCRM, databases, relational databases, and  I am certain I am missing some other ailing technology patients.  This is not to mention how vendor #1 will be “dead” before the year end, while the other vendor they back is pretty much alive and kicking.  Why do we need to kill things? Why does everything in this world need to replaced every single time something new comes about?  The shiny new object approach of new always being better and killing old one has never proven successful.  Let’s spend the time we dedicate to “killing” stuff to building better models of what we have.  No one is dying in 2010 — at least not in Enterprise Applications.

CRM Failure Rate – Yes, we know.  CRM used to fail at rates up to 70%. Shocking.  Alas, that was 8-10 years ago.  I want to think we already figured what we were doing wrong, how to fix it, and how to turn that failure rate into a same-number-different-metric success rate.  If we did not, as Paul Greenberg likes to point out, we would not have grown it into a 13 Billion Dollars industry.  So, let’s say the following from now on: CRM has failure rates that are comparable to any other large enterprise-wide application implementation — but we have great knowledge how to make it better and to make it successful.  Yesteryear failure rates don’t play no more.  I am sure that learning to drive resulted in high-failure rates among teenagers, but most of them managed to figure out and are doing fine. Right?

Social Anything – No, not saying that Social is dead (that would contradict myself – right?). I am saying that making special considerations for Social is so — well, 2009.  Social is no longer a new, shiny object — it is part of the fabric of the organization (like DNA better? fine, the DNA of the organization).  You had some couple of years to get surprised and amazed by the social evolution; now is time to take a deep breath, and start building the Social Business.  Darn, this one is going to be harder to do — how about if use either Aligned Enterprise, or we just call it Business?  After all, it is just another evolution of business like the coming of the PC, the Internet, and the industrial revolution before.  Did we change the name of business each time there was an innovation?

You Have to Start in Customer Service – As much as I was one of the earlier proponents of this mantra (been saying that CRM starts in Customer Service since the mid-1990s), it is time to put it to rest.  This was all fine and dandy (wow, my use of metaphors is really going south) back when our business processes and functions were differentiated — not so much as we move to use end-to-end processes.  So, no – you don’t have to start with Customer Service. You have to start where your needs are.  Don’t know where they are?  Lucky for you you became an Aligned Enterprise, and you can use your newfangled, shiny feedback mechanisms to find out.  Then, you will see how you don’t have to start in Customer Service — unless you completely lack imagination and cannot figure out how this whole thing works.  Then, sure start in Customer Service; at least you will be doing something.

Any terms you would like to see move on in 2010?  Pet Peeves?  Let me know in the comments and we can work towards making them go away…

My Notes on the Oracle OpenWorld 2009 Opening Keynote

I attended the Opening Keynote at Oracle OpenWorld 2009 and there were some interesting things to be said there.

First came Scott McNealy, the CEO of Sun Microsystems to assure the crowd that the acquisition by Oracle is going to be a good thing.  He spoke of the theme of the meet being Innovation, and proceeded to talk about all the innovations that Sun had accomplished in the past 25 years: Network File System – NFS (which I had to manage at my first network administrator job), Flash Storage, 64-bit architecture, RISC architecture among others. As a geek, I couldn’t help feeling giddy about some of them.

He then talked about the future under Oracle, and how the commitment was to continue  all the product lines that Sun has (SPARC, Solaris, and Java were mentioned at a high level), and brought James Goslin (the Father of Java) to discuss the continued efforts that Oracle was making to ensure the continuity.  James talked about the history of Java, and the power it has today.  Millions of organizations, devices, and even cards running Java are not going to go away simply (they mentioned that the Tax System in Brazil is written in Java and runs entirely online, for example).  Oracle is committed to continuing and growing Java, only question is how they will run a Java + Oracle developers conference since it won’t fit all at once in  Moscone Center.

Next was John Fowler on stage to talk about hardware products.  He discussed the commitment that Oracle had made to continuing the hardware lines and even continue to invest in Research and Development.  He introduced two new products that caught my geeky attention: the Oracle database machine (more in this later) and the Flash Array.  The Flash Array is what it sounds like and array of Flash storage modules meant to improve speed and decrease costs.  The stats they cited were impressive enough: 80 Flash modules fit in a card (giving 1.8 TB of data storage), versus 3,000 disks — and the power consumption is impressive as well 300 Watts vs 40,000.  Further, because of Flash Cache technology available from Oracle they could increase that performance by 4X in addition to the 100X increase going from Disk to Flash.

Larry Ellison came out next and he just took on IBM.  He run through the Wall Street Journal articles Oracle had run that promised they were going to spend more than Sun had spent until then in Java, MySQL, and SPARC in addition to more technicians to service the hardware, and invest more into R&D than Sun had invested.  He explained how IBM kept telling their customers that Oracle was going to dismantle Sun in spite of the promises as they had done with all other acquisitions, and he countered by listing all the acquisitions that had not been dismantled.  He also explained the debates with IBM in relation to the performance ads; all in all, a rather lengthy discussion on how IBM was wrong and Oracle was right.

He closed by describing the performance test they had run between the new Oracle Database Machine and IBM’s top-line computer optimized for database.  Results were impressive: IBM needs 76 standard racks versus Oracle 9, IBM has not fault tolerance built-in and Oracle does, 1.22 seconds average response for IBM versus 8/100 of a second for Oracle, 6X more power and 8X more floor space consumed by IBM.

To wrap up he announced a challenge to all organizations (he invited IBM to apply) that if the new systems of Oracle and Sun could not make their applications at least twice as fast, they would give them ten million dollars.  Then Scott McNealy came back on stage to say good-bye, and the session was closed.

Now, you are reading this blog because you want information on Enterprise Applications surrounding Customer Strategies and you are probably asking yourself: why on earth is he talking about databases and memory speed?  Because there was nothing else mentioned.  Not Fusion (supposedly tomorrow when we talk about the stack), applications, or even databases beyond the lengthy discussion on how Sun and Oracle will work together.

I did take away a couple of interesting ideas for further discussion: now that Oracle and Sun have hardware and Software, and so IBM, what will SAP and Microsoft do to effectively compete across the board?  Are they targets for acquisition? By whom?  There was no mention of the applications and Fusion architecture – not even the middleware components, are they going to matter? Is Oracle shifting their focus from running the entire enterprise just to focusing on IBM and hardware and databases?

If you come back tomorrow, you will find out…

Social CRM or Social Business?

Anthony Nemelka, today’s guest blogger, is a long-time veteran of the CRM industry, having previously served as a senior executive at both Epiphany and Peoplesoft and most recently co-founder and CEO at Helpstream.

When the CRM community first started talking about the potential for using social technologies to improve customer relationship management, the biggest debate was over what we should call it. Kudos to Paul Greenberg for putting that debate to rest and declaring it “Social CRM”. Since then, the Social CRM community has done a great job defining and legitimizing SCRM as a valid business concept–building a robust community of customers, experts, and practitioners along the way.

The debate within our community has since shifted to issues of execution. One of the more interesting debates is whether or not SCRM tools and technologies represent an extension of existing systems and processes or a completely new approach to doing business—a.k.a. a paradigm shift.

Paradigm shifts are tricky things because, by definition, most people don’t see them coming and only recognize them in hindsight. But this question of whether or not SCRM represents a paradigm shift is a critical one, both for the companies developing SCRM related products and solutions and for the companies attempting to deploy them. The wrong bet can mean the difference between dramatic success and complete and total failure.

Software vendors and solution consultants are aligning themselves on both sides of this debate, along fairly predictable lines. Those who have been around for a while tend to see SCRM as an extension to CRM. Those who haven’t been around as long tend to see it as an opportunity to redefine what we mean by CRM. And some of us simply like change and will vote for anything that causes the greatest disruption—you know who you are!

As the co-founder and former CEO of Helpstream, it should come as no surprise that I am a strong advocate for disruptive innovation. Just as the ubiquity of WANs and distributed computing presented a whole new paradigm for business process innovation in the 1990s, the integration of people-process-technology enabled by the Web increasingly requires that companies re-invent how they operate. Those companies that merely extend and modify what they do will be defeated by those that figure out a new and better way. Think Southwest vs. United.

Though customer-facing processes are a great place to start figuring out how to leverage social technologies, I think it’s important to consider what being social means to a much broader set of business challenges. Will there ever be Social ERP, Social HCM, Social SCM, Social BI, etc.?  I continue to be amazed at how many high tech entrepreneurs are figuring out how to leverage Web-based social collaboration and data aggregation to improve just about everything a business does. Will these innovations simply extend and improve existing processes or do they represent a new paradigm that requires a complete re-thinking of how a business should operate?  I suspect it’s the latter.

So what do you think?  Will Social CRM eventually be viewed as an extension of existing CRM or as just one critical component in adapting to the realities of a Web-connected world? Will companies deploy SCRM as a result of thinking “how can we improve customer relationship management?” or will they deploy SCRM as a result of thinking “how can we transform ourselves into a socially-driven business?” The only thing I know for certain is that it will be a very fun ride.

Join Anthony Nemelka, Lyle Fong, Anthony Lye, and Christopher Carfi in a panel discussion moderated by me, Esteban Kolsky, to discuss the future of Social CRM.  Details can be found here: http://www.meetup.com/CIO-IT-Executives/calendar/11218780/

I Am Not A SCRM Market Expert, I Just Play One On Twitter

If you have been following the #SCRM Accidental Community on Twitter lately you probably have seen my crazy rants against — well, anyone out there who calls SCRM a market, or a technology – or anything other than new channels for CRM.

This post is an attempt to summarize some of those rants and move the stake in the ground  that Paul Greenberg has set (much better than me I might add) so we can move forward.  Having an agreement on what it it and what it’s not makes a great difference in the speed at which we grow.

At the heart of all this is the definition of SCRM as a market.  I spent nearly eight years at Gartner debating markets and whether or not new innovations were them.  I took the lead in the discussions for E-CRM (electronic channels), RT-CRM (real-time), M-CRM (mobile) and just about any other x-CRM you can imagine when they first emerged into the scene.  They all carried great promise and lots of bells and whistles that made them as attractive as glass beads.

And they all failed to deliver the promised revolution. Why?

Great Question.

They failed because they tried to create a market.  Vendors wanted to differentiate themselves from the rest of the market by offering the “original” or “first to market” of that type of software.  Consultants wanted to have the “only methodology” for implementing it.  An IT worker wanted to be the “cool guy” (or gal) to implement it first.  In other words, people’s ambitions got ahead of the capabilities of the moment – and hype killed the cat (sorry, the market).

So, how come they could not define a market?  Another great question (darn, you are on fire today).

A market for enterprise applications is defined (and I am not going to go to the dictionary here) by its key characteristics.  Markets MUST have:

  • sufficient differentiating features to make it independent of other markets
  • the ability to operate independently of other applications (no do-or-die dependencies)
  • an addressable, unique problem that cannot be solved with other applications
  • a revenue projection that will make it worth the time for vendors and providers
  • a business justification, tangible costs and benefits, and in some (OK most) cases an ROI
  • a story that is easy to understand by Sr. Management, Middle Management, and users

Brighter minds than mine prevail in this debate, this is just another brick in the wall.  The following are places where you can get many more details, and where I undoubtedly took inspiration, on what SCRM is and what it means.

Paul Greenberg – Time to put a stake in the ground on Social CRM
Prem Kumar – Social CRM: Some Temporary Definitions
Mitchell Lieberman – Enabling Social CRM is a convergence of Enterprise 2.0 and CRM
Wim Rampen – What a social CRM strategy is all about
Brian Vellure – Social CRM: Overhyped Fad or Transformational Solution

Please comment.  I want to have a good conversation and learn from you.  I know there are holes in my argument.  Find them.

Is SCRM a Market?

Technology Is NEVER the Solution

Technology does not solve business problems.

A common misconception in enterprise applications is that technology is the answer.

Or at least part of the answer.  Technology may be part of the solution although lots of business problems are solved without using technology.  It may be a part of the strategy, albeit strategy is about setting goals and metrics, setting a plan to achieve them, not about picking technologies.

I tell clients trying to use technology as the answer that the only thing that technology does is speed up things.  So, if you have a bad process, and you add technology, now you have a very fast bad process.

Strategy is not the solution either.

Most thought leaders and consultants will tell you that strategy is synonym with success.  Relying on strategy as the entire solution, even though it contains clear directions for technology, is the same as relying purely on Technology.  Most strategies are not done well and missing many important components.  Thus, they cannot be the complete solution.

The solution is Balance.

There are three areas to address when creating a solution for a business problem: people (politics, culture, change management are some of the topics to answer), process (BPx, experience management and design among others to cover), and technology (architecture, integration, product selection, data management among other issues to consider).

A good solution will address ALL of them in a balanced form.  Your strategy, to become the solution, has to include all of these areas.  Your technology, to become the solution, must consider repercussions across all of them as well.  Problem is that most solutions don’t address all of them, and fail.

How do you design your solutions? Are you addressing all of these? Which one do you find harder to address? Easier?

How Do You Achieve Success?

Failure is far easier to achieve than success.

Gartner concluded in a recent study that among all new enterprise initiatives, ninety-percent (90%) fail to have measurable success. They either expect inordinate returns, aim for unreachable goals, allocate far shorter time than necessary, fail to calculate costs beyond technology, or improperly staff the project (wrong skills or insufficient people).

It all points to the lack of a strategy.

Failure does not happen when your strategy correctly identifies the goals and metrics to measure, the expected results, and the methods to achieve those results.  “Black Box” processing (where something magic or mysterious happens to achieve the expected results) never works.  You may get lucky once, but luck is not a measure of success.

Success is planned – same as failure is planned.

I wrote in a post recently that the secret to success is to effectively deliver a solution at 80% of perfection, and work on the other 20% through iterations as time went by.  I was derided as calling for mediocre solutions to be released.  In reality, aiming for a solution that solves 80% of the problems initially and continues to improve over time makes for a far easier way to measure success.

Programs like Six-Sigma, Total Quality Management, and Just-in-time Management know that you cannot implement a 100% perfect solution at first try – that is why they become better with time.

Could you succeed with a solution that addresses 80% of the problem at first?

The 90% failure rate should not deter you from starting your initiative.  It should instead propel you to find out the best practices available, create a reasonable strategy, set realistic goals (around 80% of your first-intended goals), determine the metrics to reach that goal, and plan towards is.  In other words, create a strategy for your initiative before it becomes doomed for failure.

Plan for success and you will succeed, plan for failure and you will also succeed.

What are you best practices for success? Could you deliver an 80%-perfect solution? Have you? What do you think?