It’s the start of the new year and my phone is ringing off the hook as CRM professionals and technology solution providers call to debate the impact of that burgeoning new phenomenon: the social Web. Does it matter to the CRM community? Big time.
The social Web, a.k.a. Social Computing¹ among my colleagues here at Forrester, includes the fast-growing peer-to-peer (P2P) activities like blogging, RSS, file sharing, open source software, podcasting, search engines, and user-generated content. These technologies have seen a rapid adoption — 22% of adults now read blogs at least monthly, and 19% are members of a social networking site.² Even more amazingly, almost one-third of all youth publish a blog at least weekly, and 41% of youth visit a social networking site daily. Technology and social changes are creating a potent mix of forces that will transform the way all businesses operate, create products, and relate to customers.
CRM is being redefined, with a torrent of new acronyms and labels spilling forth from consultants and pundits: “Social CRM”, “Collaborative CRM,” and “CRM 2.0.” Traditional CRM solutions will continue to be important to enable organizations to aggregate customer data, analyze that data, and automate workflows to optimize customer-facing business processes. But, changing consumer/customer buying behaviors and new Social Computing technologies are spurring the idea that new generation CRM solutions will, and must, emerge.
My clients are looking farther afield in their search for solutions to help them manage their relationships in the new world of the social consumer. They are looking beyond the traditional solutions vendors like Oracle (Siebel), SAP, Microsoft, Consona (Onyx), and even the newer software-as-a-service (SaaS) providers like salesforce.com, and RightNow, in their quest to collaborate with customers in new ways.³
While I echo my colleagues' earlier comments on the Microsoft/FAST Search transaction, I also give Microsoft thumbs up for being the first of the major BI vendors to embrace alternative DBMS for BI. For a while now I've been predicting that alternative DBMS for BI will gain continually increasing momentum for the following reasons:
Traditional relational databases were designed from the ground up for transaction processing, not BI. Only in the last decade have they even begun to accommodate BI-style queries, and still play a constant balancing act between OLTP and OLAP optimization. Columnar databases, such as Vertica, Sybase IQ, KX, ParAccel, SAND Technology, InfoBright, are specifically designed and optimized for nothing but OLAP query processing. Their schemas are also much more flexible since it's as easy to drop, add, or update a column in a columnar database as it is to insert, change, or delete a row in a relational database.