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August 14, 2011

CRM Evolution 2011: My Journey From Rags to Riches in 3 Days

One of my favorite weeks of the year is when CRM Magazine puts on their annual conference – CRM Evolution.  And when the magazine’s Editorial Director David Myron invited Paul Greenberg to co-chair the event a couple years back, it really began to hit its stride.

CRM Evolution This year’s conference continued its ascent, as the three days was filled with outstanding content from a collection of thought leaders, analysts and influencers you will not find anywhere else in one location.  And, as Mike Fauscette points out in his write-up, several themes resonated throughout the three days, including:

  • The need to create exceptional customer experiences
  • Leveraging social/mobile technologies to streamline processes and enrich customer relationships
  • Updating traditional customer valuation models to include social influence and activity behaviors
  • The importance of integrating traditional and social crm efforts to transform organizations into social businesses able to successfully engage with today’s social customer.

I missed the opening keynote delivered by CNN political analyst David Gurgen, who kicked off things with his talk on responding to the voice of the customer/constituent.  CRM Magazine’s Brittany Farb does a nice job of covering Gurgen’s talk, so check it out as I heard it was very interesting.  I really wished I could have heard Gurgen compare Richard Nixon to Winston Churchill, after hearing Mike and Mitch Lieberman talk about it afterward.

Speaking of missing things, I almost missed the panel I was on with Esteban Kolsky, Denis Pombriant and Ray Wang, moderated by Jim Berkowitz on merging CRM with SCRM.  I got to the hotel about 20 minutes before the session, hoping to get a hotel room and change out of the t-shirt, jeans and sneakers gear I flew up in.  Now usually I have no problem getting checked into a hotel before the usual 3pm time, but at the New York Hilton – no such luck.  (I'm not the only one that had some bones to pick with the Hilton.  Tweet Ray Wang and ask him what he thinks of the lobby lounge...). Anyway, that really threw me off, so much so that when RightNow’s John Perez saw me and invited me to grab a bite to eat, I said yes.  But then I got a call from Esteban – from the panel – asking where I was and if I was coming.  So, after getting the call, and texts from Oracle’s Susie Penner telling me to come “as-is”, I rolled onto the panel looking like I just came in off the street…which I did...sportin’ the “ragged-out” look.  And I really looked great next to Jim and the guys, who all looked incredibly dapper!

Thankfully everybody was very understanding, the room was packed, and Denis, Ray, Esteban and Jim led a great discussion – with the audience adding just as much value to the conversation as any of us.  Truthfully I could’ve just stayed in the back, but I think people just wanted to see me get up on the podium where my dark blue Pepsi t-shirt and oversized jeans.   And, of course, about 5 minutes after I joined the guys on stage I got a message saying my room was ready.

 I fared much better clothes-wise the next day on my next panel on CRM and marketing automation for SMBs.   Once again the panel was great, with SMB Group’s Laurie McCabe, Original Runner Company’s Julie Goldman, and moderated by the one and only Ramon Ray of SmallBizTechnology.com.  I was really happy to see the interest in this session, as many times SMBs are left out of these kinds of industry events. But the room was crowded, and the crowd was vocal, passionate and participative.  We covered a lot of ground, and Julie added a great deal of personal experience, as she’s been using InfusionSoft for five years to grow her business into a multi-million dollar organization.  Laurie added a ton of insight into how small businesses can benefit from automating marketing processes, and integrating social activities into those processes to maximize their effectiveness.  And Ramon masterfully weaved in the voice of the attendees into the discussion to keep things on point and in context of what they were interested in. 

I sincerely hope the interest in this session is the impetus to adding a SMB track to next year’s event, as I think the time has come to focus on this very important part of the business community.  The tools are easier to use, more accessible and SMBs are now willing and able to put them to good use - something for Mr. Myron and Mr. Greenberg to think about for 2012…

My final official duty was to do the closing keynote on whether Social CRM is living up to its promise.  A big thanks to all of those who hung in there until the bitter end with me!  I had a great crowd of folks who kept it interesting for me, and better yet, laughed at my numerous attempts of humor.  I covered a number of things, and you can check out my slides below:



A couple of things seem to connect with the audience, such as my description of HubSpot as being the company content built – and my poster child for a Social CRM practicing organization.  Also there were a few tweets around “the revolution being measurized” this time around, as Chris Bucholtz so correctly pointed out as me paying homage to Gil Scot-Herron.  But I think the two things most RT’d was the idea of changing life experiences of customers surpasses the goal of changing their experiences with your company.  And, in order to get customers to eat out of the palm of your hand you have to get into the palm of their hand…meaning show up in a captivating way on their mobile device of choice.

Customer service brick wall

In addition to the slides, Brittany Farb and Blake Landau (who led a very cool session on GenY at Work) were kind enough to spend some time covering some of my activities during the week:

Oh yeah, Paul and I (with some major assistance from Marshall Lager and Radian6’s David Alston) closed the show down with a little live version of the CRM Playaz.  We covered some of the most important developments of the three days, like what people thought of the food at the conference, who gave out the best swag, and whether David has been able to get Marc Benioff to change Hawaii Shirt Friday to Cowbay Hat and Kilt Friday.  He hasn’t just yet, but Radian6 hasn’t been in the Salesforce.com fold for very long, so we’ll check back with him in a couple of months to see if he’s made any progress there.

All in all it was a great event, and I had a lot of fun running around meeting people, hanging out with Ray Wang at a Microsoft dinner, and somehow fitting in a webinar for Radian6 with David Alston and Laurie McCabe on Social Business trends at the SMB level.  That’s good and bad, because it means I missed out on a lot of great sessions, like Frank Eliason’s talk on how social media changed customer communication.  I also missed New York Yankees CRM Strategist Scott Jeffer’s breakfast session on how Major League Baseball teams are using CRM to engage customers.  Thankfully I did get a chance to hang with Scott during my very first trip to Yankee Stadium.  Thanks again Scott for the tour of the Yankee Museum.  Even if you aren’t a Yankee fan you will love the history that is on display, so check it out.

Thanks once again to David Myron and Paul G for having me participate again at CRM-E.  It is truly an honor to be part of such a great event.  I'm enriched more and more each year.

For more perspective on the event check out nice posts from Chuck Shaeffer and Lauren Carlson



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