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CRM: The Impending Sea Change

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Bits, pieces. Bits, bytes. Things are afoot, all pointing to an increased ability for the customer to control his or her own destiny more effectively.

A few data points:

Steve Gillmor raps on two different ways that the actions and behaviors of customers (he calls them “users”) are captured into the emerging world:

“By definition, the Windows data represents behavior under the terms and conditions of the Windows/Office/DRM/PlaysForSure contract with the user — managed via IT, structured around the corporate hierarchical notions of enterprise ownership of user data and behavior, and so on. And in turn, the same can be said of the Google/Skype/Yahoo/Salesforce contract — different in that users can navigate across corporate domains but remain subtly constrained by, as Doc suggests, the tyranny of inference derived but not related from the user’s behavior. Both clouds are captured, prisoners of war in the battle for access to the intentions of the user/creator of these signals.”

Doc Searls cuts to the chase:

“It’s a market opportunity to equip the demand side with better tools for relating to the supply side. That’s what Vendor Relationship Management (VRM) is about. When we have that, the supply side will start rebuilding their CRMs as systems that actually relate to us, rather than try to corrall and milk us like cattle.”

Dave Winer thinks it’s about getting critical mass:

“If I had a place where I kept my movie ratings and gave [Netflix and Yahoo] a pointer to it, they could read it and I would control the data. It would be very easy to set up, the technology is no trick at all. The hard part is getting enough users to do it this way to gain critical mass.”

[ed. - I'm a technologist, and I'm also a pragmatist. There are some portions of this that will be solved via technical means, naturally. But, in my gut, I still feel that a big portion of this will be solved the way that business has been done for the past few millenia, by way of actual people connecting with each other and building trusted relationships.]

Now, Mitch Ratcliffe tempers Doc and Steve with a very rational position:

“Attention often comes after the initial exchange has been offered, so the evolution of demand-side systems for making our desires clear should evolve from the bottom up and obliterate the existing CRM system as a mechanism for command-and-control. But no one has found the motivating force that will catalyze a market reversal and the likelihood is that the market will never flip over because, frankly, we don’t always know what we want until we see it. That’s the creativity and innovation folks are always talking about in action-new value comes from contrarians who reshape the world rather than just roll with it.”

Here’s some further thinking on this, intended to provoke discussion:

(1) Where we are today

(2) Where we seem to be heading

(3) A place of ultimate “crowdsourcing” (we may also be heading here)

(4) The parking lot of a Phish concert

I really like the idea of Area 2. It’s a place of give and take, where vendor and customer meet as equals.

Further reading: The corollary

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Christopher Carfi, CEO and co-founder of Cerado, looks at sales, marketing, and the business experience from the customers point of view. He currently is focused on understanding how emerging social technologies such as blogs, wikis, and social networking are enabling the creation of new types of customer-driven communities. He is the author of the Social Customer Manifesto weblog, and has been occasionally told that he drives and snowboards just a little too quickly.

CRM: The Impending Sea Change
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About Christopher Carfi
Christopher Carfi, CEO and co-founder of Cerado, looks at sales, marketing, and the business experience from the customers point of view. He currently is focused on understanding how emerging social technologies such as blogs, wikis, and social networking are enabling the creation of new types of customer-driven communities. He is the author of the Social Customer Manifesto weblog, and has been occasionally told that he drives and snowboards just a little too quickly. WebProNews Writer
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