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CRM 2.0: Everyone’s Invited

Paul Greenberg has one of the most prolific and wide-ranging minds in the CRM business. He wrote the CRM bible, CRM at the Speed of Light, which is now in its third edition. He lectures constantly, educates, and writes and publishes just about everywhere in the CRM world.

Every vendor and analyst respects his ideas and opinions. Many of the biggest seek him out for advice. For those and other reasons, I have started calling him the dean of CRM analysts.

Greenberg is also an incredible gadget-head. He has all of the toys you can imagine — phones, game consoles, entertainment and computers — and he plays with hardware and software the way a kid uses Legos. When he told me he had started dabbling in wikis, it seemed right in character.

A wiki, as you probably know, is a domain where people of like minds go to share ideas. The word itself, I am told, is from the Hawaiian language and means “fast.” The point in using this name is to highlight how quickly ideas can evolve when many hands (and minds) are turned to a single purpose.

Greenberg’s wiki idea has been to launch a discussion of the future of CRM. If that sounds too nebulous, it’s really about CRM 2.0 — which is what he’s calling it. I can’t think of a better person to instigate this process than Paul Greenberg, and I am writing about the effort because I think it is vitally important.

CRM Is Dead, Long Live CRM

Paul and I have kept up an active dialog over the last few years about CRM, where it’s going and where it needs to go. Many of the ideas that I first surfaced here have gone into our conversations. Paul has now taken the lead in bringing together some of the best minds in CRM in one spot to plot the future of our industry.

Many people in the CRM business are coming or have come to the conclusion that the CRM that grew out of the 1990s has exceeded its useful life. I am among them. The business climate is different, the economy is different, the types and kinds of products that companies are making are different. In short, CRM 1.0 has not exactly kept up with the changing times.

Paul decided to convene a congress of the Internet on his wiki to ask the difficult question, “What now?”

The idea of doing this as a community activity has a lot going for it. As Greenberg put it, a definition that comes from an interested community “would be universally acceptable, so that the mistakes made during the CRM 1.0 period that we’ve just left — also known as 15 million self-serving definitions of CRM out there that left customers confused — wouldn’t happen again.”

Now here’s the cool part: everyone’s invited to help out.

Ready for a CRM Change

There are already a number of industry and academic heavyweights involved in the project, which you will see when you visit the wiki.

Paul is opening this, as he puts it, to “vendors, practitioners, academicians, students, consultants, authors, etc., who are interested in truly doing something important when it comes to customers.”

If that sounds like you, I encourage you to check it out. All you need to do is send an e-mail with your details to Paul at [email protected] and give a short description of why you are interested in helping with the project. You will receive a return e-mail containing a URL and an invitation to join the community.

Looking Toward the Future

I am already involved and plan to post some of the ideas — in an updated form — that I first expressed in this space over the last year or two. There are others, such as Joe Pine, who, along with James Gilmore, first expressed the idea of the customer experience in the 1999 book The Experience Economy.

As you will see, the drivers for CRM 2.0 are diverse, the people who are contributing are many, and the thinking that will go into this effort has been percolating for a long time. Now it’s time to bring it all together.

I expect to report back to you over the coming months on progress and on some of the issues that we might be wrestling with. In my humble opinion, this could not have happened at a better time. I think it will be a fun experience for all of us.

Denis Pombriant runs the Beagle Research Group, LLC, a CRM market research firm and consultancy. Pombriant’s research concentrates on evolving product ideas and emerging companies in the sales, marketing, and call center disciplines. His research is freely distributed through a blog and Web site. He is working on a book and can be reached at [email protected].

This story was originally published on January 10, 2007, and is brought to you today as part of our Best of ECT News series.

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