It’s Still Voting Season

Have you voted yet? Not in the presidential election — this is more important! I am talking about voting in the CRM Idol competition. It’s time!

OK, I know what you are thinking: What is CRM Idol? It’s the brainchild of Paul Greenberg, and its purpose is to find the hottest emerging company in the front-office market. So far this year, we’ve identified close to 60 companies from around the world and we’ve put them through their paces.

The Finalists

It has been hard winnowing the group down to the finalists — four in America and three in Europe, Asia and Australia. We’ve identified a handful of strong companies with very interesting approaches to the vendor-customer interface. Here is a very brief introduction to each:

  • Artesian combines analytics and targeted information for B2B vendors.
  • Awareness Inc., a marketing hub vendor, captures huge amounts of data from the social Web, crunches it and then enables marketers to pull out just the customers it wishes to approach with a very targeted offer.
  • Compendium is a content marketing company with a platform that helps drive content development for all channels.
  • CrowdTap has a platform that helps marketers drive loyalty and, most importantly, advocacy.
  • Self Service Company focuses on slicing through a mountain of data to find the exact right information for customers via a virtual agent.
  • VirtuOz takes virtual agent idea and applies it to customer service so well that people interacting with the VA might not even realize they’re dealing with a machine.
  • provides a single platform for sales and marketing, customer support, and finance and administration to make it easier for SMEs to compete with the big guys.

More Information

That might not tell you enough to make a selection and cast a vote, but on the finalists page, you will find complete judges’ reviews and videos produced by the finalists that describe in a few minutes what they do and how it benefits end customers. You should go there soon.

Voting is open until Dec. 7, and after that we will announce the winners — and the world will be a lot more hip to their ideas thanks to CRM Idol. Seriously.

I have been on the team and working this effort since summer, and it gave me some valuable and practical insights into CRM this year. One of the biggies for me has been the realization that the social rollout is proceeding at a fast pace. It’s not simply that new social-oriented companies continue to come to market, it is the sophisticated way they are layering themselves into a social stack. I haven’t seen new social networking or microblogging sites — those niches are filled, and the emerging companies offer different things further up the stack.

For instance, rather than simply trying to apply social communication techniques to vendor-customer interactions, today’s companies are getting much closer to specific business processes. Social is far from the only technology theme. Consider the interest in virtual agents, and you see some powerful cost-saving tools of the future.

Hats Off

I take my hat off to any company that signed up for this event, and frankly, some of those who were cut really deserved to be in the finals, but that’s the way it goes in an elimination contest like this. There are seven finalists and there will only be two winners. That’s why your participation and vote are so important right now. You have a great opportunity to shape the future of CRM and all you need to do is sashay over to the site and tell us what you think.

Before you vote, though, take a look at the reviews we’ve written and the videos that the vendors developed. They’re great tools for introducing you to the CRM Idol concept and to the individual companies and their solutions. I figure you’ll need thirty minutes if you watch all the videos — and I recommend you do. So if you don’t have that much time in one chunk, you can easily watch a couple of videos and come back later for more.

The important thing is your participation. I think of CRM Idol as one of the several important events on the CRM calendar right up there with Dreamforce, OpenWorld, Sapphire, Convergence and Sage Summit. Yup, it’s that big. So cowboy up and do your duty.

And I sincerely thank you for your help.

Denis Pombriant

Denis Pombriant is the managing principal of the Beagle Research Group, 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 website. He is the author of Hello, Ladies! Dispatches from the Social CRM Frontier and can be reached at [email protected].

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