6) Knowledge management replaces enterprise content management as a core requirement for large businesses – This might sound self-evident but it isn’t. One of the most important conceptual transformations going in business is around the idea of Service Dominant Logic (SDL) which to put into its most simplified form would be – “rather than speak of the features and functions of technology that you need, try to think about the jobs that you need to get done. Then go from there.” This dovetails directly with the idea that in order to understand the value of SCRM or CRM or any strategy or technology or process, you have to proceed from the standpoint of the self-interest of those involved as potential buyers or users. So what you are attempting to create is a commonwealth of self-interest. What are those things that can be done that will make the jobs of the persons involved easier when it comes to engaging customers? Knowledge management, unlike enterprise content management, isn’t only the collection, storage and organization of documents but is the accessibility of information that answers questions. What it also involves is the delivery of that information and the timeliness of that information. That means it can be via FAQ, web self service knowledgebases that are accessible by both employees and customers; it can involve the delivery of dynamic knowledge based on ongoing wikis and threaded forums; it most certainly involves a highly effective search mechanism.
This year we are starting to see the integration of knowledge management with CRM – especially around customer care through companies like eGain, Coveo, and perhaps most visibly, Inquira. In fact, while none of them made the Watchlist candidates (Inquira just barely missed) that’s mostly due to this being a new and important technology integration and one that I didn’t monitor as much as I should have – which I will rectify in 2011.
But as more and more information becomes available, as more and more customers are providing answers to other customers questions through communities, social networks and threaded forums; as more and more customers are requiring increasing information from companies to make buying decisions and as more and more customer service reps are expected to respond with answers instantly, knowledge management becomes increasingly important.
In 2011, KM will bubble to the top as a noticeably critical factor in both running effective customer service operations and in answering customers’ questions. No longer will just content management (go here to download this document or look at this FAQ) be enough. KM in 2011 will rise to the top as a critical component of Social CRM and in the ensuing years be redefined and then adopted by the larger enterprises around the idea of “answering questions” not just “storing content.”
(9)Customer experience reasserts itself loudly as the core of CRM and SCRM – This one is kind of a no-brainer in a way. The core of traditional CRM even though it was always operationally focused was still the improvement of the customer experience and it was recognized that this was in fact the foundation for the success of how customers related to your company. But over the past few years, as CRM became more and more technology and process driven (rather than enabled) the core message disappeared into a dusty archive. Then along comes the distinctly right-brained focus of Social CRM. Then a flood of companies focused on collaboration, social software, community platforms and even those calling themselves customer experience management (CEM) vendors and strategies poured over the market. Traditional CRM vendors decided that they had to add social functionality to their traditional offerings adding another dimension. The market was confused about what to call itself, the vendors confused about how to message.
But that forced the customer-driven intelligentsia – e.g. thought leaders, journalists, and analysts to rethink the value locus for companies at the point of interaction with the customer.
There were two things that seemed to be generally agreed upon. First, there really is a social customer who is distinct from the customer of seven years ago. Second, and most germane to this forecast, is that the customer experience is the locus that we’ve all been missing and should be what companies focus on – whether the vendor thinks its providing or the practitioner thinks its implementing CRM, CEM, SCRM, a community (platform), listening, acting, social software, SMM, what have you.
As a result, there is an increased focus on the customer experience on the practitioner side with programs primarily being evolved through loyalty/advocacy programs (see KLM’s Club China, Marriott Hotels Rewards program, eBay’s mobile efforts, etc.) or the messaging of vendors, which is dramatically shifting around to a focus on customer experience. You need proof? Check out the messaging of SAP, Oracle, Jive, etc. and you’ll see a decisive shift in that direction.
In 2011, not only will the focus of companies move in the direction of improved customer experiences through provision of products, services, tools, and consumable experiences, but the vendors messaging will both continue to align toward that end and the products that they provide will reflect that message.
NOTE: Vendors, beware. Just because this will be happening at an accelerated pace, that doesn’t mean that there will be a CEM market in 2011. CEM is not a market. It’s a strategy that integrates with operational CRM strategies (I really don’t care which one you think is dominant). Don’t try to revive a market that was never really there by that name. Your messaging is around the customer experience, not a CEM market, right?
(6) Co-creation and customer driven product innovation becomes more than just an advanced idea. Gains significant ground in the B2B space as a core necessity – Ideation isn’t just a fad. Sure, in the past 2, 3 years, it was left to a few visionary thinkers like Steven Vargo, Robert Lusch, Graham Hill, Wim Rampen (I’d love to be included here but really, I’m just sipping at their fountains) and a few forward thinking companies like Procter and Gamble, Samsung and SAP. But the reality is that, as 2011 and beyond march ahead, customer driven product innovation is becoming something that companies are beginning to see true value in – with exactly the mutual benefits that we devoutly wish that SCRM would provide. In that same IBM Institute for Business Value mentioned above, they found that 78% of the customers would involve themselves in product innovation with the aforementioned companies. While I’m not sure how they derived this figure, the key is to see the picture being painted here – customers are more interested than ever – especially in the B2B space if you still believe that sort of thing – in participating with the company in the things that matter to them – the creation of the products that they buy.
(8) Microsoft Azure emerges as a true cloud provider at the level of Amazon as cloud computing considers its rise to becoming a primary technology infrastructure – This may be my only vendor-specific forecast for 2010 because I think despite the hype of “we are cloud providers” that comes from an incredibly large number of the other technology vendors, Microsoft is the ONLY one poised to be true provider with the scope of Amazon, through their extraordinary Azure platform – a 9 billion dollar investment so far. I think they have the technology, the infrastructure, the platform and the storage capacity. They are willing to host someone other than themselves on their cloud infrastructure too – unlike the other claimants to the throne. Microsoft’s sin if you will is that they are terrible at marketing Azure, which is a pity because as y’all know, its not good if no one knows about it.
(5) Application marketplaces will become commonplace as companies look to platform providers to fill ecosystem needs, not just CRM – I think that we’re already seeing a quantitative leap in the number of apps marketplaces out there. As we all know, salesforce.com was the first to do this with AppExchange, the first truly successful business applications marketplace that gave partners a chance to show off their wares – some of which have been quite good. ITunes of course, was the first great consumer marketplace to add applications with the launch of the iPhone. There have been multiple others since ranging from RIM having a Blackberry marketplace to Jive Software launching a marketplace in 2010 for their partners to provide the apps, add-ons, plug-ins to make Jive, not just a community platform but a community ecosystem. Of course, Google and Android are also in the mix as always.
This is a trend that has nowhere to go but up in 2011. What could be wrong with easily consumable applications that support the ecosystem needs of the companies that are wedded to a particular vendor’s platform? Expect to see a proliferation of these applications marketplaces in 2011.
NOTE: Vendors, one cautionary note. I saw salesforce.com go through a period a few years ago when they were starting to ignore the difference between strategic partnerships and building an app on the AppExchange. Thankfully, they righted that ship reasonably quickly but not before I witnessed two instances of exactly that kind of thinking. Learn from that. An appexchange is no substitute for a strategic partner. Might sound self-evident, but if a company as smart as salesforce.com did it, what makes you any smarter – other than learning the lesson.
(10,000,000) Yankees rebound and win the 2011 World Series – This one is, of course, the one that I am more likely to be right about than any other. 27 World Series, 49 pennants. That is substantiation enough.
Forecasts I’d Like to Make But I Can’t Defend
There are a few things I’m just going to say. The problem is that these are just things that either come straight from the gut or are likely wishful thinking. I can’t defend them – unlike anything else I have above. Those are defensible and I’ll fight you to the death on them – My Forecasts, Right or Wrong as Patrick Henry, esteemed American patriot said during the War for Independence in 1776. Or was that My Country Right or Wrong? Whatever.
- In any case, here are the unsubstantiated claims – the only ID will be a note that says, gut or wishful thinking.
- Partner Relationship Management (PRM) finally ignites and takes off as a market. There are good products out there now (e.g. Relayware, Oracle Siebel PRM) but the market broke my heart twice now and I don’t want it to happen again. (wishful thinking)
- A few major practitioner companies come out with full-blown Social CRM strategies that they actually call “Social CRM.” (gut)
- Salesforce.com adds customer facing capabilities to Chatter making it a genuinely interactive community platform – Actually I heard Marc Benioff say they would have this in a year at a briefing in September but I’ll have to see it to believe it. I think it’s a matter of time. (gut)
- Yankees get Cliff Lee (gut).
Finally, What I Didn’t Forecast
You’ll note that I didn’t say anything about the cloud this time, since I think that’s become entirely self-evident and a forecast on the cloud getting “bigger” isn’t going to be a particular useful one from me. Gartner actually says that 75% of all SaaS deployments can be considered “a cloud service” now, according to Gartner star analyst Sharon Mertz (take my word, if she says, you can believe it).That’s an interesting figure because that means that 25% can’t be AND that, as I love to keep reminding anyone who isn’t sick of me, there is a distinction between on demand and the cloud.
In any case, according to my checklist, we can stick a forecast into it, its done. Next up, The Watchlists. Those are going to be more fun than ever before. I’m at Dreamforce so watch for my live tweets under the #df10 hashtag. Then a post, THEN the Watchlists.
Bye. See you at the tail end of next year with my look back at how stupid I was this year. Not. Maybe not.