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CRM Bloggers Are People Too

By Erika Morphy
Mar 11, 2008 8:00 AM PT

Bloggers -- especially those whose traffic volumes can rival a minor newspaper's -- are getting used to the royal treatment. Consumer electronic vendors, hotels, auto manufacturers -- heck, even politicians -- are reaching out to the people who have made it their avocation to blog about them. Everywhere, it would seem, except in the CRM industry.

CRM Bloggers Are People Too

Vendors have typically ignored the bloggers who cover the CRM space -- at least in the run-up to a product release. That changed a few weeks ago, though, when Oracle gave a group prebriefing to CRM bloggers about its On Demand version 15.

The bloggers who attended should be commended for not breaking Oracle's embargo. So far, it seems that none did. What they did do, though, was talk about their amazement at being included in the first round of briefings.

It was something that simply never happened before -- at least, not to him, said Brent Leary, cofounder and partner of CRM Essentials and author of Brent's CRM Blog.

"They treated the bloggers almost like we were analysts," he told CRM Buyer.

"They had a senior vice president on the call (Anthony Lye) who took our questions," which, Leary admitted, were few. (Or as he wrote in his blog, "Thank God Paul Greenberg was at the ready.)" Note to Lye from Leary: Don't take any of this personal Anthony, we're just not used to being treated like real people....

Yes, Greenberg was on the line and equally pleased to be getting briefed -- although as one of the industry's lead analysts and author of CRM at the Speed of Light, he probably could have landed a briefing anyway.

"It was run as if it were a journalist call or even to some extent an analyst call," Greenberg wrote. "I don't know how many bloggers were on it but it was, to my knowledge, the first time a major CRM vendor (or for that matter, any CRM vendor, large or small) treated bloggers the way they should be treating them -- as influencers who might have an impact on the vendor's products, services, and company," he said.

"We are briefing all CRM 'experts' and 'market influencers' going forward," Lye told CRM Buyer. "We see the increasing importance of social media; expertise in CRM exists in more places that just the analyst community, and we see this as a mutual relationship."

There's more to it than briefing bloggers, he continued. "We want to ... build strong working relationships with them -- solicit their opinions and feedback on the future of CRM, and the product road map at Oracle. The bloggers live more on the leading edge that some analysts ... and we hope to do this with every new product release in CRM."

Web 2.0 and CRM

Although Oracle's latest On Demand version has added a number of Web 2.0 features for users this time around, Danny Kolke, founder and CTO of Etelos, registered incredulity that anyone would bestow Web 2.0 bona fides on Microsoft.

"It is interesting to me to hear and/or think of Microsoft as 'steamrolling' the Web 2.0 market," he writes in his post, "Forrester, Microsoft SharePoint and Web 2.0." "Because of the sheer numbers of customers that Microsoft has, merely announcing functionality that claims to be Web 2.0 gives them potential adoption that newer companies will envy. Does this really make them Web 2.0? Will they really 'steamroll'?"

His answer, in case you haven't guessed it already, is no.

"I think Microsoft sees the trending in Web app adoption disconcerting and they are moving quickly to devise new strategies to lock in their customer bases before they abandon ship," Kolke continues. "A vast population of existing Microsoft users will use the newer Microsoft devised solutions because they justify it as being more familiar or less scary. These numbers are big, and on the surface will look like Microsoft is doing great. But the challengers are growing in large numbers and innovating at a pace that Microsoft won't be able to compete with. The net result is that SharePoint is sounding like a 'me-too' technology and that's the game Microsoft is playing now."

Hosting Options

"Cloud computing" is the latest buzzword in CRM circles, thanks in no small part to Salesforce.com's recent endeavors in this space. Despite the growing interest in the concept, though, the cloud computing and hosting choices available to people -- whether they're independent software vendors, enterprise developers or business users -- are still poorly understood, argues Phil Wainewright, co-owner and director of Procullux Ventures, in his blog post "A plethora of PaaS options."

"There's been a veritable explosion of platform-as-a-service choices coming onto the market in the past month or two, and the pace of introductions is accelerating rather than slowing," Wainewright notes. "It'll all settle down eventually, because at the end of the day people tend to coalesce around just one or two dominant providers, or a handful at most. But ISVs perhaps want different choices than enterprises and indeed solution providers. So I think there may be several different categories of platform where we'll see those clusters of long-term dominant players getting established."

Wainewright divides the options into five choices: do it yourself; managed hosting; cloud computing; cloud IDEs (integrated development environments); and cloud application builders.

Each of these layers has its own pluses and minuses, he says. "For rapid results, especially when automating business processes and workflow rather than simple data processing, the cloud IDEs and application builders win through."


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What do you think of today's voice recognition technology?
It's great -- the tech has improved vastly in recent years.
It's the wave of the future, but quality is still hit or miss.
I like it for texting, especially when I'm driving.
I only use it when I have to, like with IVR systems.
I avoid using it, because most voice systems are still terrible.
It's an unnecessary frill that I can easily live without.