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Chuck Schaeffer CRM Evolution 2012 Conference Review

3.5 stars Average rating: 3.5 (from 63 votes)
 By Chuck Schaeffer

Social CRM Still Dominates, But Gamification & CX Gaining Momentum

CRM Evolution has become a top CRM industry annual event for a number of reasons. The backing of CRM Magazine, the sponsorship of Conference Chair Paul Greenberg, the behind the scenes direction by Editorial Director David Myron, active participation by many of the industry’s top thought leaders and a vendor neutral setting make this an event about community, content and conversation—offering a contrast to the more publicized and flamboyant software vendor-sponsored events. That’s not to say that vendor managed events are somehow less substantive, but it’s a welcome treat to attend keynotes and sessions free of vendor-speak and product promotion. In fact, along with Gartner’s Customer 360 Summit, these two annual events are the top two draws for participants seeking industry content irrespective of any particular vendor’s solution.

CRM Evolution 2012 sessions again followed the three tracks of Sales & Marketing, Customer Service and CRM Fundamentals. Like last year, social CRM was a popular topic and there were some well-done sessions on integrating social strategies for sales effectiveness as well as integrating social in the contact center.

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 (CX).

Ray Wang delivered a compelling gamification presentation to a 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 business applications for a seamless user experience and analytics that combine gamification performance measurement with existing CRM and other enterprise software performance objectives. Once managers can easily link the existing 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 technology and more of a supporting technology.

Customer Experience has become the top CEO agenda item according to surveys from Businessweek and IBM. 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 universe. The CRM Leader keynote panel included senior vendor executives from some of the top CRM software publishers (HP, Oracle,, SAP and SugarCRM), which gave me the opportunity to ask how their CRM software applications are responding to their customers now emphasized CX objectives. As you might expect, the answers varied, with publishers such as Oracle releasing purpose built CX software suites and other vendors enabling CX within their existing CRM suites. I suspect we’re likely to hear some changes in messaging and see some new software releases around CX in the near future.

I generally refer to CRM Evolution as my favorite no frills CRM event each year. While there are no rock bands or concerts, or keynote speakers that just came off the Oprah circuit, it’s a truly intimate setting where customers, practitioners, vendors and other community participants come together in a no-pretense environment and engage in candid conversations and common interests. It’s also an event that consistently gets better every year. CRM Evolution promises expert commentary and an industry conversation, and it delivers what it promises. End

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