Today's shopping experience at my local Safeway inspired--nay, compelled--me to write a post over at The Heretech about revolutionary changes in the use of CRM. If there is a CRM revolution that's going to happen, or already is happening, how far is it likely to go?
The short version of the post: Don't look to Maximilian Robespierre for answers. (And not just because he's dead.)
Yesterday, two of my research interests, Agile and CRM, intersected during a briefing. The demo, which I'll describe in a moment, was a great illustration of one of my pet theories: integration will be the killer feature for software in general for the next several years. CRM in particular needs these benefits of integration.
Rally Software has a nice integration between their tools, designed to support Agile development teams, and the Salesforce CRM system. Salesforce users can record enhancement requests and product feedback that are fed automatically into the requirements component of Rally's suite of tools. Product managers then can refine this information (has anyone asked for this feature before? how does it fit into a user story? how important is it?) and add it to the backlog. The product roadmap, which now includes requests that start in the CRM system, can also have some visibility within Salesforce.
Very slick, particularly in how this example shows the value of integrating CRM with other things. As of today, CRM has a lot of untapped potential. As we discovered in the "product management tools" study earlier this year, the CRM system ranks at the bottom of requirements sources.
I don't think I've ever worked for a software company that didn't aspire to be a platform. Of course, the meaning of platform isn't always the same. For some, the word means infrastructure on which you build applications. For others, it connotes a category of data that is central to your business. And, of course, there are other variants.
Being a platform, in either meaning of the word, takes a lot of smarts, sweat, and patience. You don't become a platform overnight. It's not merely a matter of positioning--as if something that's presumably as solid as a platform could somehow be positioned in the first place. (Of course, we're dealing with companies that are, by and large, headquartered in California, so perhaps the concept of a foundation that shifts to and fro isn't all that strange.)
Recently published: "Beyond Innovation: Adding Adoption To Your Business Objectives." This document started as a survey of technology industry professionals, asking them what they thought set this part of the economy apart from other verticals. The title of the piece reflects the conclusion, from taking a close look at the survey results. The punchline is, focusing on adoption can provide a powerful competitive advantage.
Coming soon: "Inquiry Insights: CRM Customers Focus On Business Processes, Not Technologies." This document will be my inaugural piece about CRM. What does it have to do with product management? Quite a lot, both in how CRM does and does not factor into the sources of information for PMs. In this case, we looked at the questions we receive from customers implementing CRM systems. Obviously, these questions say a lot about the real needs of CRM customers.