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There tends to be a lot of wishy-washiness around Customer Relationship Management; talking about human behaviors, desires and motivations can introduce some less than systemic thought into how CRM ideas are articulated, and, at times, implemented.

If you want an antidote to that squishy approach toward the discipline of CRM, follow Bill Bands research and CRM blog. Bill is able to both appreciate and articulate the many intangibles that hover around and impact customer relationships, and with that context develop research that gets back to cold numbers and hard facts about what works and what doesn't.

As a vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research, "I always look at CRM through four lens: strategy, process, people, and technology," says Band. "Technology is only one piece of that four-piece puzzle. The rapid changes in technology that have taken place during the last 15 years, and which continue today, create new possibilities that challenge the status quo of the first three."

Bill came to Forrester after serving as a managing director of CRM strategy for BearingPoint, and before that was a partner with both Accenture and Coopers & Lybrand Consulting. A quarter-century of working as a consultant to help clients develop business strategies gave Band an understanding of the need to build better customer relationships.

"I learned that a critical success factor for the majority of businesses is to have deep understanding of their customers and to align their organizational model to serve customers better than the competition," he says.

Band summarized his experiences in this first wave of change in CRM with the books Creating Value for Customers: Designing and Implementing a Total Corporate Strategy (1991) and Touchstones: Ten New Ideas Revolutionizing Business (1994).

Things became very interesting in the mid-1990s when new technologies started to change how organizations could better manage customer data and insights. "Clients began asking me for help for how to best leverage new computing technologies to execute their go-to-market strategies and advise them on how to get these technologies adopted in their organizations," says Band.

This entailed much more than simply advising customers about their CRM solution. His past experience drove home the idea that CRM could not succeed without links to the rest of the business that were well understood and strategically aligned. "I call this the Customer Management Technology Ecosystem," says Band.

Making changes to this ecosystem—even badly-needed changes—is far different than making purely IT-oriented changes, and that's where problems can arise. "I always advise our clients to pay more attention to the importance of change management in a successful customer management improvement initiative," says Band. "My research again and again points to this as a critical pitfall. However, most organizations still do not pay sufficient attention to this topic. Hence, we still hear about "failed" CRM projects."

His analyst's role is not only great for earning kudos—for instance, being named a 2007 Influential Leader by CRM Magazine—but it presents him with a more important opportunity: to learn from different sides of the CRM equation. "My customers are primarily tech buyers and users, not CRM vendors," he says. "These customers typically look to me to summarize and educate them about market trends. I have the privilege of talking constantly with many organizations (and CRM vendors) across a wide range of industries. I learn from what my clients tell me they are doing, and they learn from me about what I am seeing happening in other organizations."


Bill Band on

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Mobile CRM—Converging Trends, Best Practices & A Recommended Deployment Approach
Mobile CRM In this podcast discussion, William (Bill) Band shares highlights and best practices from his recent mobile CRM research. He also discusses specific use cases and business processes empowered by mobility, describes a five step mobile deployment approach and identifies the pitfalls to mitigate when planning your mobile CRM project.

Bill Band is an author, Principal Analyst at Forrester Research and recognized CRM thought leader. His research focuses on helping organizations establish and validate CRM strategies, prioritize and focus CRM projects, build executive consensus, facilitate CRM software selection, and plan for project success.


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