The internet remembers too much…

Excellent talk (transcript) by Maciej Ceglowski. This is just a brief extract:

I’ve come to believe that a lot of what’s wrong with the Internet has to do with memory. The Internet somehow contrives to remember too much and too little at the same time, and it maps poorly on our concepts of how memory should work.

via The Internet With A Human Face – Beyond Tellerrand 2014 Conference Talk.

Read the whole thing.

Marketing to a digital butler: Customer engagement in a VRM empowered world

In my previous post, I referenced Paul Greenberg’s brain dump of technologies, concepts, and theories that are pulling the CRM community toward a larger market of customer engagement.  CRM innovation is shifting from delivery of technology 1, to building intelligent, behavior oriented systems for complex customer interactions.  With a core concept of customer engagement, companies are looking to build ‘shared value’ with their customers.  For shared value to be created, however, the equation requires reciprocating engagement from customers.  An underlying assumption of shared value creation is that customers will eagerly, and directly, engage.  What if customers incorporate their own technology layer as a buffer to all of this engagement activity?  What if the customer has a digital butler, a VRM layer 2, to filter out the noise?

Marketers, and marketing technologists, will likely be on the vanguard of understanding how this will impact brands.  Toby Gunton, of OMD UK, writing for The Guardian:

[The movie “Her”] suggests a world where an automated guardian manages our lives, taking away the awkward detail; the boring tasks of daily existence, leaving us with the bits we enjoy, or where we make a contribution. In this world our virtual assistants would quite naturally act as barriers between us and some brands and services.

Great swathes of brand relationships could become automated. Your energy bills and contracts, water, gas, car insurance, home insurance, bank, pension, life assurance, supermarket, home maintenance, transport solutions, IT and entertainment packages; all of these relationships could be managed by your beautiful personal OS.

Brands in these categories could find themselves dealing with the digital butler (unless we, the consumer, step in and press the override button), in which case marketing in these sectors could become programmatic in the truest sense.

It’s entirely possible that the influence of our virtual minders could reach far further. What if we tell our OS that we’ll only ever buy products that meet certain ethical standards; hit certain carbon emission targets or treat their employees in a certain way? Our computer may say no to brands for many different reasons. 3

 

To summarize, Gunton’s piece reflects a future where algorithms market to algorithms.  The implications for CRM technologies, and their buyers, are significant.  We are already seeing a glimpse of this future with enhancements to Google’s Gmail.

Last year, Gmail added a ‘Promotions’ tab, a feature that effectively redirects mass marketing emails out of the customer’s view 4, programmatically reducing  the noise that Gmail users see.  I haven’t read specifics, but reflecting on my own experience, I’ve seen roughly 60% of my email routed away from my direct attention since I activated the promotions tab.  While this is not exactly Her 5,  parts of that VRM future have already arrived 6.  As this future is more evenly distributed,  engagement will require different models of engaging.  A more sophisticated digital butler can be seen in the Glome project 7.

Creating genuine shared value will require meaningful rethinking of what customer engagement means, and, at the same time, require a significant rearchitecting of siloed CRM interests 8.  Successfully building technology for the Customer Engagement market will also necessitate a radical shift in how this technology is sold and delivered.  We’re in the early stages of this tectonic shift, but there is no doubt that change is coming.  Like I said in the previous post, the next eighteen months or so will be an interesting time for all the players in the CRM world.

 


  1. By that I mean taking decade old CRM technology from on-premises to the cloud, with little customer oriented innovation.

  2. background on VRM

  3. via Computer says no – why brands might end up marketing to algorithms | Guardian Professional.

  4. Businessweek article on how the Promotions tab might affect email marketing

  5. or an intelligent Siri or Cortana

  6. “The future is already here, it’s just not every evenly distributed”  – William Gibson link

  7. Hat-tip to Sean Bohan for reminding me of Glome

  8. Traditional CRM = Salesforce Automation, Marketing Automation, Service Automation

CRM’s evolution toward customer engagement

Over the last two years, mergers and acquisitions have driven many of the headlines in the CRM world 1.  We’ve watched the broadest consolidation that CRM has seen in nearly a decade. At the same time, Gartner predicts the CRM market, on license revenue alone, will cross $23bn this year 2, and pegs it to hit $37bn by 2017 3.  Generally speaking, consolidating market segments don’t grow that rapidly.  So, what’s going on?  While Gartner’s definition of the CRM market may be evolving, a fundamental change has been underway for some time.  We started to see this change about five years ago as vendors, like RightNow, began to redefine CRM toward Customer Experience (CX).  The movement toward CX largely came about as social technologies were infused into CRM platforms, enabling the last quarter-mile of CRM 4.  This repositioning of CRM toward CX has now become a full-blown stampede, with nearly every major vendor claiming their technology is designed to put the customer’s experience first 5.

A half decade of CX momentum is now moving the market toward technologies that drive beyond ‘experiences’ and begin to focus on ‘engagement’.  Paul Greenberg, the resident Dean of the CRM community, recently posted some random thoughts on this shift:

The customer engagement market is far larger in potential than CRM and in fact is the replacement market for CRM. CRM as a market is going to be a sub-market – the operational requirements for customer engagement and the companies serving that need – will be a substantial chunk of the customer engagement market, but by no means the only segment of it.  Social CRM, which morphed CRM into what it is today, was the forerunner and the signal for this. Social channels are now inclusive in CRM systems and thinking – incorporated with the more traditional operational aspects of CRM systems and thinking. It’s the operational hub with pipes that are driven into the other areas around customer engagement. 6

 

Paul goes on to list seventeen areas that are either converging to, or sprouting from, traditional CRM markets.  The growth that Gartner predicts, can be seen on this list.  The CRM market is morphing from systems that focused on capturing transactional data, to technologies that drive greater context, decisioning, and involvement of customers.  These new areas are still disconnected, as Paul notes in his post, but I think the shift toward customer engagement [CEM] is going to happen faster than CRM’s move to CX.  This will happen faster, I think, because many of the CEM vendors which enable Paul’s seventeen areas are very small, agile, and don’t carry the legacy ‘baggage’ of traditional CRM.  CX was a ‘build-out’ of CRM, whereas the move to CEM is coming from outside the CRM world, in.  As CEM pulls the industry to closer toward a customer engagement approach, the next eighteen months or so will be an interesting time for the legacy CRM industry.


  1. Disclosure: I’m back at Oracle via their acquisition of RightNow Technologies, a CRM/CX cloud vendor.

  2. Gartner

  3. Forbes: Gartner predicts CRM will be a $37bn market by 2017

  4. The analogy refers to landline communications. The most expensive part of communications networks tend to be the ‘last quarter-mile’ to a residence.  Without that last quarter mile being in place, the network can’t fully function, but making those connections is extremely costly.

  5. Few actually deliver true CX applications, but nearly all know how to hype it

  6. Random thoughts on CRM – Paul Greenberg

Target’s massive security breach exposes security process failures

…And although there are companies that blatantly violate the standards, security is a constantly changing condition, not a static one. Every time a company installs new programs, changes servers or alters its architecture, new vulnerabilities can be introduced. A company that is certified compliant one month can quickly become non-compliant the next month if administrators install and configure a new firewall incorrectly or if systems that were once carefully segregated become connected because an employee didn’t adhere to access restrictions. Companies that conduct audits also have to rely on their clients to be honest about disclosing what they have on their network — such as stored data.

To answer the question posed by the title of the Wired.com post – No.  Therein lies the problem. 1
Wired link: Will Target’s Lawsuit Finally Expose the Failings of Security Audits?


  1. The nature of audits, in most professions, is that their usefulness is a function of the competency of those conducting them

Creepy data collection in the modern workplace

Another pioneering outfit is Sociometric Solutions, which puts sensors in name badges to discover social dynamics at work. The badges monitor how employees move around the workplace, who they talk to and in what tone of voice.
One client, Bank of America, discovered that its more productive workers were those allowed to take their breaks together, in which they let off steam and shared tips about dealing with frustrated customers.

The bank took heed and switched to collective breaks, after which performance improved 23 per cent and the amount of stress in workers’ voices fell 19 per cent.

Data pioneers watching us work – FT.com

It seems that last century’s Taylorism has, for some employers, morphed into more invasive forms of employee surveillance.