Friday, September 28, 2007

CIOs face tough on-demand choices


A recent CIO Jury poll of IT directors found half of businesses are still cool on SaaS, which is either very low priority or not on their radar at all. But it is gaining ground in customer relationship management, where analyst Gartner predicts SaaS will account for 14 per cent of the total market this year.

This would'nt surprise me as SaaS or OnDemand vendors have still not covered much ground on the main pain points that large organizations have around;

Risk management: As a large organization where my exposure to risk is higher what are the options I have available that mitigate these risks. Since the SaaS world often uses the "power grid" analogy I would ask where are their diesel generators. Have you ever been to a large telco or hospital that completely relies on the power grid but also has its own backup generators that can run for really long cycles in the case of an outage? These organizations test these generators on a weekly basis to ensure they can kick in right away. What if a "Melissa" hits SaaS vendors does that mean that I'm hosed because I'm now joined to their infrastructure at the hip. To win over large organizations that want to make SaaS as part of their mainline strategy these kinds of diesel generators are required.

What happens when I terminate my SaaS contract and decide to move on either to an On Premise or another OnDemand vendor? Thats another risk thats not significantly addressed by the SaaS vendors.

Security: This has been a perenial issue for the SaaS world and unfortunately I dont see the same progress being made on that front.

Integration: A sore point for many CIO's who've been there done that or inherited a 250+ system landscape where 50 of their systems need to integrate with their OnDemand system and there are all kinds of replication and federation issues. Again this is an area that needs a lot more investment than what we are currently seeing.

Supressing rather than flushing out these issues is leading CIO's to be hesitant to jump on the SaaS bandwagon.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

CRM 2.0 Employment Trends


On the lines of MyCRMCareer, its a known issue that good CRM talent is always difficult to come by and these days with more CRM initiatives taking off there surely seems to be a talent crunch of sorts.

However a few weeks back I came across this recruitment search site called SimplyHired (trends). Very impressed with their approach .. make job search as easy as web search (Google). Now I mention Google and them in the same breath is because they've really ripped off the Google model and skin and put it to good much needed use in the job search space. So their one box search and list of organic jobs, sponsored jobs and Paid Advt's etc make me feel like I'm actually browsing a Google property. Might be a good thing, you never know Google just might snap them up like Yahoo did HotJobs.

Anyways the reason I decided to blog about them is not cause of their approach or interface but because I found this really interesting thing on their site where one can graphically track employment trends (pretty cool I would say). Since they claim to have more than 5 million jobs indexed it seemed like a good enough sample to see what the CRM and CRM 2.0 employment trends looked like. Not that there is a big movement around CRM 2.0 employment (yet!!).

So check these job trends out. Pretty cool huh?

CRM trends

CRM trendsCRM jobs

CRM 2.0 trends
CRM 2.0 trendsCRM 2.0 jobs

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Design for People, Build for Change


Since I did not attend the event, read the coverage (The Intelligent Enterprise Blog) of the opening keynote, entitled "Design for People, Build for Change: Transforming the Nature of Work," offered by analyst Connie Moore at this week's Forrester Technology Leadership Forum.
It seems that there were some very interesting Enterprise/CRM/Web 2.0 themes that emerged from this keynote.

"The new generation of workers, dubbed "millenials" by Moore, have grown up with
completely different experiences and therefore have completely different
expectations about what systems will look like as they enter the workforce,
particularly around social networking. Added to all this is the evolution of
process management as a discipline, and the dissolution of monolithic business
applications into composite applications that use BPM, SOA, business rules,
collaboration and other technologies, either on-premise or as SaaS."

Very much inline with what I believe enterprise applications are evolving into. We've been talking about composite applications for years now, but I think that maturing Web 2.0 technologies and the ability to enable (design and automate) a cross enterprise process oriented approach will be the focus in enterprises.

"She lays out four key principles for designing for people, and gave a detailed
example of each (including a really interesting Second Life example for the 4th
1. Business processes adapt to changing business conditions. 2.
Applications evolve continuously while preserving process integrity. 3.
Processes, tasks and the associated information always maintain context. 4.
Systems are unitary, information-rich and reflect the social needs of the
The first two of these are about build for change, and the last two
are about design for people."

The first two principles lead me to the loosely coupled but effective integration of business processes and applications. The next two principles to me among other things speak about the evolution and adoption of more intelligent BPM tools and the adoption of Web 2.0 in the enterprise.

Monday, September 24, 2007

SOA Funny .. I really liked this one


SOA this. SOA that.
Find out what happens when Greg tries to swallow three different SOA pitches in one day. Will he save the day, or will Greg have to chuck the project?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

MyCRMCareer launched today


MyCRMCareer was launched today and is a new "online career center". I've visited it and registered .. or should I say tried to register .. cause it errored out on me with some SQL error after Step2 of the registration :-(. Its a great initiative to bring focus on the CRM practice, area, domain whatever you might want to call it. So I'll go give it a shot again later.

Here's what DestinationCRM had to say about them;
MyCRMcareer's Web 2.0-related technologies will enable CRM professionals to leverage user-generated content to create social networks, access expert CRM content and training materials, and search for employment opportunities. The founders decided to rely on Web 2.0 tools not only to provide an interactive forum where users can generate their own content, but to expose older generations of CRM workers to this emerging wave of technology, says Paul Greenberg, chief customer officer at BPT Partners and author of the book CRM at the Speed of Light. "For younger generations, Web 2.0 is something they take for granted, but that's not necessarily the case with older business professionals," he says. "This way, they're being exposed to the technology that is going to drive CRM and the way companies interact with customers for years to come."For the complete story click here

Though the Career part of it makes it too vanilla for me. Maybe something like MyCRMSpace or MyCRMFacebook might have been more for me ;-)

Monday, September 17, 2007

How does an on premise software initiative evolve to CRM 2.0?


You can prepare by having an open mind and a healthy dose of skepticism .. ;-)

One of the comments I often hear, CRM 2.0 is great and I would like to take advantage of it, but how do we get to CRM 2.0 given that we've already invested millions of dollars in my existing CRM systems which surely seem very much like 1.0.

Another question, can we as an on premise customer evolve to CRM 2.0 or do we have to use SaaS to get it.

So the answer to the first question is yes you can move to CRM 2.0 by leveraging your existing CRM investments (with changes though) and for the second one its a no brainer that on premise customers can evolve to CRM 2.0 just like on demand customers can. I dont see CRM 2.0 as a rip and replace strategy, rather a leverage, integrate and layer strategy.

Often times during the transition, change, redefinition, resurgence of spaces like CRM the pack leaders are blind sighted by the fact that organizations have already made significant investments in their existing applications, systems, infrastructure etc. So these organizations have to figure out a roadmap of getting from point A -> B that also balances the ROI equation both for existing and future investments.

Going back to the basics, the CRM 2.0 investment question should be something like ;

Will moving to CRM 2.0 make us a market leader or "plug your pet business goal here".

.... It should definitely not be can On demand (or plug your favorite new technology here) make us a market leader.

The objectives to achieving these goals would be something like transtion organization to CRM 2.0 processes, practices and tools. Does not sound very measureable, but will go with it for now.

Then the strategies to achieving these objectives kick in where you can put things like leverage social networking tools for CRM, Service enable the IT infrastructure, further reduce TCO etc

Here are 5 steps on how I feel organizations with existing on-premise CRM systems can evolve or prepare to evolve to CRM 2.0.

1) Understand your customer in the Web 2.0 economy
2) Recognize your business goals given the new/changing customer interaction/behavior model
3) Re-evaluate your customer business processes for achieving these goals.
4) Identify technology enablers to support these business processes.
5) Perform a gap analysis of where you are and where you need to be on these enablers

Lets pick on step 5 and look at what some of these CRM 2.0 technology enablers can be to ensure a high value two way interaction between the customer and the enterprise. Now I'll leave the Platform part (on premise vs on demand) out of here as its a whole discussion by itself and focus more on the Web 2.0 part.

There's what I'd call more generic Web 2.0 technology/products like:
Social Networking Tools
Rich Internet Applications
Offline Web Applications
Mobile Apps (again, but with a difference)
Convergence products for CRM and other applications (again, but with a difference)
Convergence products for voice and data (again, but with a difference)

.. and the more productized and branded Web 2.0 services available like:

In some ways I feel that using these Web 2.0 products/technologies the world of CRM is being flipped on its head.

The customer is managing their relationship rather than the other way round. Dont get me wrong the other way round is still valid and very much needed, but its a two way street now, participative and collaborative where the customer has control and technology is enabling it.

Here are 5 things you can do to enable Web 2.0 as part of your CRM 2.0 evolution:

1) Identify a current business process or application that can be enhanced using Web 2.0 technology
2) Integrate it as a point project (maybe enterprise rollout maybe not)
3) Make sure its IT friendly, but not driven by IT. The beauty of social networking and Web 2.0 platforms is that it can be installed, used and driven by its users/adopters. IT pretty much plays a binary role of allowing or disallowing it.
4) Be patient (because Enabling a social networking platform, either internally or externally to do better CRM is still pretty much on the early learning curve) and watch them grow. Once the viral adoption of Web 2.0 kicks it your initiative zooms off.
5) Dont compromise on security

I guess an unofficial 6th would be, ensure you are addicted to your Web2.0 service and maybe one of the execs is too .. it helps ;-)

Wanted to cover it in this one but I think will defer it to part II, where we take on say an on premise CRM - SFA initiative and see how it can be evolved into a CRM 2.0 initiative. Or atleast my take on it.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

What is Web 2.0?


The more I browse the more obvious it becomes that everyone either knows everything about Web 2.0 or we all know sqat about it. However here's one article that is recommend read for Web 2.0 .. O'Reilly's - What is Web 2.0

Saturday, September 15, 2007

On Premise or On Demand


Recently saw two posts that were debating each side of the on premise vs on demand CRM coin. That reminds me of late 90's when ERP and CRM vendors where busy with similar press and postings trying to differentiate their solutions from CRM extensions that came out of ERP vendors vs best of breed CRM and so on.

Both models have relevance in the CRM 2.0 world and have pros and cons. On premise has to still figure out how to further lower the TCO equation, make the applications (development & deployment) more agile and shed unwanted functionality that was piled on over the last few years in the feature function war. On demand still has to figure out the security, integration, performance and verticalization (depth) issues. But make no mistake, ondemand is not a fad. Its here to stay obviously nothing is perpetual) and a valid deployment model that meets customer requirements.

If you were to take away the .. we built it multi-tenant from ground up argument .. most on premise applications today are in fact on demand. Imagine a large complex organization on a single instance of an on premise CRM product that supports multiple sister companies or global departments, so its multi-tenant (I know the purists will start crying foul here) and its usually hosted in somebody else's data center serviced by yet another outsourced IT staffing company. So for all practical purposes it is on demand for an enterprise. But for all legal purposes its still on premise.

In fact one thing that I feel will be further explored in CRM 2.0 is the on demand deployment model to further satisfy requirements in the security and integration space. More on this later ...

So in the CRM 2.0 world on premise will have to work harder on making their apps more Web 2.0, RIA, Agile and lightweight (in all aspects). Similarly on demand will have to work on more traditional IT areas of security and integration. Saying we have web services and support SOAP will just not cut it for large enterprises with 100+ apps/systems in house all having some direct or indirect hook from their CRM system.

When it comes down to CRM business processes both on demand and on premise are still struggling on some basic issues. Take adoption of an SFA system for example 10 years ago this was an issue for for all CRM vendors, its still an issue today for on demand SFA as well. Ultimately your Forecasting will be only as valuable and accurate as the info the sales guys put into it. I feel the Web 2.0 component of CRM 2.0 might help further address core CRM issues like this.

Intel® Web 2.0 Technology Development Kit (TDK)


I would guess that things start becoming a pretty permanent fixture once it starts getting embedded into HW or firmware. Well here's a very interesting article I read about the Intel Web 2.0 TDK, which provides royalty-free Javascript API, binary and source codes to allow you to create web applications by taking advantage of the mobile features on notebooks and UMPCs.
Create Web 2.0 application with the platform and the environment in mind.

Isnt that cool, now you have supercharged platform support for Web2.0 application development and deployment. I guess that's another arrow in the Web2.0 quiver

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Discovered an exciting new CRM 2.0 wiki site


Yesterday I discovered this really amazing site/wiki that claims that it will be focused on defining CRM 2.0 ( It has some interesting content and well known names from the CRM arena contributing and linking their blogs with. Conceptually it seems to be a think tank that is attempting to define CRM 2.0.

"The Way This Works
First, each invited member of this wiki is expected to contribute something to the discussion. The idea is to come out with a definition of CRM 2.0 that will be pretty much universally accepted by the CRM community ...

However I'm very skeptical and highly disappointed with how they are going about this. It all seems very counter (2.0) intuitive. For me one of the biggest things of Web 2.0 and CRM 2.0 is to harness the power of social participation and collaboration.

But this website seems to be an invite only Wiki :-(

Imagine Wikipedia allowing only a limited set of invitees to define the encyclopedia. Again I love the idea behind the initiative though and would strongly urge the ( Admins to open it up for general participation.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Gartner says CRM is back with a Vengeance


We've seen a resurgence in CRM initiatives for a while now, but its always good to have an industry analyst like Gartner lay it out.

CRM Is Back With a Vengeance: Is Your Organization Ready for the Next Generation of CRM?