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Chuck Schaeffer CRM Industry Month End Review—For August 2012

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Here's What Happened in the CRM Software Industry During August 2012

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CRM Evolution, Communities, Sage Summit & CRM Idol Top This Month's Events
CRM Software Industry Review The big news and events occurring in the CRM industry during August 2012 included CRM magazine's CRM Evolution conference, the announcement of Communities, Sage's annual customer and partner summit, the increased competition and decreased number of contenders in CRM Idol and a well done research report titled Social Media 2012, State of Adoption.


CRM software industry highlights for August 2012:

  • CRM magazine held its annual CRM Evolution conference in New York this month. This is one of the very few vendor neutral CRM industry conferences focused on community, content and conversation—a contrast to the more publicized and flamboyant software vendor-sponsored events. In fact, along with Gartner’s Customer 360 Summit, these two annual events are the top two industry conferences for participants seeking CRM information irrespective of any particular vendor solution. Social CRM continued to garner most of the discussion, but two topics which were mentioned at last year’s event, but gained much more traction at this year’s conference included gamification and Customer Experience.

    Ray Wang delivered a compelling gamification presentation to an absolutely packed room. Gamification is becoming an increasingly considered strategy for engaging customers and employees and aligning that engagement with top business objectives. This nascent but growing disruptive technology is largely accommodated by pure play gamification software vendors. And while these gamification providers are showing progress and promise, expect gamification to cross the chasm to mainstream adoption only after these enabling technologies are tightly integrated with existing CRM and other enterprise software applications for a seamless user experience and analytics that combine gamification performance measurement with existing CRM and other business software performance objectives. Once managers can easily link their current performance programs in their existing business applications with gamification tools, and users are unable to tell that gamification technology is separate from the applications that they’ve learned and adopted, gamification will become less of a distinctive tool and more of a supporting technology.

    Customer Experience has become the top CEO agenda item according to surveys from IBM and Businessweek. There’s still a debate whether CX has always been a part of CRM, or whether this is a new found movement which compliments CRM and finally puts customers at the center of the company’s universe. The CRM Leader keynote panel included senior vendor executives from some of the top CRM software publishers, including Oracle,, SAP and SugarCRM, which gave me the opportunity to ask how their CRM software applications are responding to their customers now emphasized Customer Experience objectives. As you might expect, the answers varied, with publishers such as Oracle delivering purpose built Oracle CX software suites and other vendors enabling CX within their existing CRM suites. Vendor messaging and software are still forming, and I suspect we’re likely to hear some changes in messaging and see some new software releases around CX objectives in the near future.

  • debuted a Community-building platform this month. The company advises that social networking users now exceed the number of e-mail users and that nearly a quarter of all time spent online is spent on social networks like Facebook. So to position itself at the intersection of these social channels while at the same time helping companies connect with their customers and partners, the company released Salesforce Communities.

    This new tool is built on the Chatter platform and includes features such as profiles, data feeds, trending topics, recommendations and influence measurement, with the aim of improving collaboration and productivity. Chatter users will be able to create additional public networks, toggle back and forth between private and public communities, and share content among those communities.

    The Salesforce messaging is that existing online communities are either overly conversational, such as discussion forums, or entirely transactional, such as vendor portals, and in both cases fail to connect customers and businesses. On the customer side, Salesforce Communities promises to help social companies combine knowledge-driven, peer-assisted and agent-delivered customer service into communities as a single experience. On the partner’s side, social enterprises can create custom, extranet like, communities with their business partners.

    There’s no doubt that Salesforce is feeling growing competitive pressure in the social arena. In addition to pure plays such as Jive and Lithium, which are both rated by Gartner as the leaders in this category, as well as a revival from the old guard competition such as Oracle, who recently acquired Vitrue and Collective Intellect, and more so Microsoft, who acquired Yammer, the competition has softened’s thunder and has further neutralized product differentiation for’s Chatter. Salesforce Communities is an attempt to keep the social evangelism alive and stay ahead of the increased competition. Salesforce Communities is currently scheduled to become generally available the second half of 2013, and pricing has not yet been announced.

  • Sage held its annual customer and partner summit in Nashville. The company used the event to share product direction over the upcoming months. Increased cloud delivery was a focus, but mobile seemed to be the company’s big thunder. In addition to mobile use cases and Sage mobile solutions being presented during the CEO keynote, there were product announcements and updates to Sage’s mobile connected services initiative. Several mobile connected services are now available and more promised for near term delivery. As first announced in the summit of last year, Sage is continuing its product naming changes, discontinuing recognized brand names in favor of product names which include the Sage moniker.

  • CRM Idol announced its semi-finalists for the Americas region. The Americas candidates completed their reference checks, mentor sessions and software demonstrations for the judges, and the pool narrowed from 42 contenders to 14 semi-finalists. Now over the course of the next month, the narrowing process will occur for the EMEA, Asia and Australia candidates with semi-finalists being named September 24th.

  • For this month’s recommendation, I suggest you check out the Social Media 2012, State of Adoption research report. The research was performed by two of the most respected CRM thought leaders in the industry, Denis Pombriant and Esteban Kolsky, and the results share how business leaders are adopting social media as part of their business strategies. It looks at social use cases, obstacles, and how social media is both successfully being taken advantage of as well as how its being underutilized. You can see the reports key findings at Denis Pombriant’s Enterprise Irregulars blog.

  • If I've missed anything, please let me know at chuckschaeffer[at]crmsearch[dot]com. Thanks! End

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Denis Pombriant and Esteban Kolsky released the Social Media 2012, State of Adoption research findings—offering key insight to any business leader about to embark upon or accelerate their social business strategy.



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