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The call goes out to mold a 2011 watch list for CRM

by Scott Wallask

November 17, 2010

By Scott Wallask, Insider Learning Network

If you’re into predicting the weather, you’ll enjoy the debates and opinions that will ensue as part of a quest to shape a CRM watch list for 2011.

Paul Greenberg, author of CRM at the Speed of Light: Essential Customer Strategies for the 21st Century, is asking readers on ZDNet to help him in this endeavor.

His roster of potential CRM contenders is populated by companies that many of us haven’t heard of, which makes the exercise fun.

The suggested enterprises at the top of the list – SAP, Oracle, Salesforce, and Microsoft – aren’t going to get an argument from many and will surely be on the final version. But what about CrowdFactory, for example, which develops applications to optimize social marketing campaigns and is also on Greenberg’s list? Is that company on the cusp of something great?

I looked at Greenberg’s 2010 watch list, and Sybase was hardly mentioned. A year and $6 billion later, Sybase is a big CR M player thanks to SAP’s acquisition of the company. It’s that sort of unpredictability we’re up against in projecting CRM conquerors for 2011.

Meanwhile, I was surprised to see companies like Google and Hootsuite (which helps users manage their Twitter accounts) on the list of 2011 contenders because I don’t associate them with CRM. But I can also appreciate an argument to include them because aspects of their business echo CRM ideals.

There’s also bound to be healthy discussion about the criteria Greenberg establishes for companies to make his final watch list, such as financial performance, management, and thought leadership.

Other measures can gauge a company’s future, too. As we discussed the criteria in our office this week, my colleague Dave Hannon brought up a good point: Who knows what company might choose to jump into “the cloud” and possibly come out of it a rainmaker? Software as a service will open up CRM to smaller companies who then have a chance to be influential, Hannon said.

If you have an opinion, join the conversation and weigh in about your choices for Greenberg’s list. Maybe you’ve got a gut feeling about a lesser-known CRM company today that will instead be on everyone’s lips tomorrow.

Follow Scott on Twitter @HR_Expert.

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