CRM 2.0 (looks like we were right in the nineties afterall)

Guest Blog by Tim Lennard 
Sub-edited by Justin Hall

As an industry we’re easily seduced by the promise of a shiny new technology, application or paradigm based on the heady memory of past riches and potential future fortunes for early innovators.

But is the CRM vision so different now afterall?

It took years of apparently slow movement of the tectonic application plates of Accounting, HR-Payroll, Manufacturing and Distribution days to form the category continent we now call ERP.The continent of CRM enjoyed a more accelerated formation and has matured since the time when SalesForce was a glint in the eye confined to the SME space and the monolithic Siebel confidently strutted its stuff as the enterprise solution.  

It is interesting to me the that vision established in those early years of CRM remains largely whole today (longevity is a sign of a good vision statement).  As I remember, it was about providing a 360-degree view of the customer, providing insight to enable more tuned service and product propositions and hence positively influencing loyalty, revenue and satisfaction.  While the vision remains whole today it is delivered in a very different way.

That vision remains a 360-degree view but it has extended to include a view of a prospective customer.  Early CRM was limited to information primarily gathered within the enterprise including billing history, sales engagement, personal interests (golf anyone?), ticketing history etc. so while it was a 360 view of the customer it was still substantially from the perspective of the supplier (often the sales person) and based on internally available data. Occasionally marketing would come along and knock out a DM piece or invite using it as a static database.

We’re now in the era of CRM 2.0.  The 360 vision remains valid but we now have a wealth of information to connect the dots and complete the circle.

Connecting the dots, creating the true 360 view

Whilst many organisations have struggled (and continue to struggle) with this Holy Grail of ‘revenue generation’, we’re now better placed than ever to fill in the missing links, bolt on additional data sources and create a true and meaningful picture of a prospect, or customer that we can act on. Marketing automation, data lookups, improved tagging and tracking, predictive analytics.These several data points offer the opportunity for triangulation, a tried and trusted approach to successful navigation.  

Firstly demographic (or firmographic) data explicitly captured (highly fact based information such as company, job role, location, buying history etc),Secondly activity based behaviour – implicitly captured data that can show a number of things including intent, interests, urgency and personal communication preferences.

And lastly the dark-art of predictive analytics, crowd-analysed data that looks at what you might or might not be interested based on the behaviour of the crowd – and specifically people like you. Big data, algorithms, context – that type of thing.

What does this mean for 2016?

Well apart from the whimsical reminiscing and back-slapping of saying ‘we were right afterall back in the nineties’ we’ve essentially arrived back –  full-circle – with the 360 view. But we still have a significant challenge.

The applications landscape of 1996 is significantly different from that of 2016, cue Scott Brinker with his chart. Now we have the technology available to deliver the vision (too much you could argue) but you have to have both the strategic and technical chops to connect it all and make it actually deliver. And this is where companies are struggling – adopting the tech but knowing what to do with it.
If 2016 has an industry theme (which of course it will, we are marketers) it will probably be ‘Data and creating the connected experience’. The role of the Chief Marketing Technologist is becoming more common and increasingly more important. Talking to the talk and and endorsing the vision needs to make way for sleeves rolled up action, breaking down departmental silos and barriers, embracing the challenge and making it happen.

And what will 2026 look like? Well hopefully we’ll finally have those hoverboards we were promised.
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