Note: I’m actually on a vacation, just finishing an incredible cruise through the Mediterranean and now on Day 2 of a 3 day stay in Barcelona. All in all a dream vacation to tell you the truth. Best ever. But I HAD to finish this post. An addiction. If I left you out and I actually do follow you as an expert, I apologize and will update this list in the near future. Forgive me. I’m loving this trip to much to worry about the rest of it all. Also, please let me know who teaches you. Not just who you read but who teaches you something of value – and moves you forward. Either ZDNet or PGreenblog which will have this post will be great for the comments. Please.
There’s was this list going around a few weeks ago that seemed to be saying that somehow those on it were “the” SCRM Top 50 “experts.” After seeing yet another list of another group of experts or influencers in CRM, I realized I’m having a problem with all of these lists. The problem isn’t who’s on the list, though about 20% of the people on it, I’ve never heard of – which is highly unlikely if they are influential. The bigger problem I have with lists like this is in this case is that a list like this is now calling the chosen ones on it, “experts.” This particular list is saying that the top 50 SCRM experts are sorted by a combination of some sort of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn followers, friends and other connections. Hopefully, the use of the word “experts” here was a poor unconscious choice of words, because I’m hard pressed to understand how these criteria are linked to expertise.
Look, I have a really hard time seeing a combination of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn compadres as a measure of influence,much less expertise. How this T+F+L combo scrubbed with an algorithm or two qualifies someone as an expert, I’ll never know. (hat tip to Groucho Marx). I just get the feeling that even beyond this list (no offense intended, list producers), we are reducing the value of expertise to something that means “someone will listen to you beyond your mom and/or dad.” All it seems to need in the world of Social CRM is a comment in an #scrm hashtag or some SCRM related keyword in combination with retweets, Facebook wall posts and god-know-what on LinkedIn to be anointed the god of an industry. Now to the authors credit, they said in their post to not take the numerical order of the list seriously. Which I didn’t.
It’s just not the way I roll. Or most of the people I know either.
Please forgive me if I sound somewhat grouchy, but I’m seeing lists like this everywhere that are based on some quantitative calculation that are then being acclaimed as definitive. Reality is that they aren’t definitive and they actually provide little value and more confusion than not.
Here’s my take on all of this. The value of an expert is that they are able to teach someone something in a way that the person learning can understand. In other words, not only do they have depth in a discipline or domain of some sort, but they also think about who their audience actually is and what they do and how they live and, most of all, how they think. The reality is that each person, regardless of their proximity to a particular demographic, thinks differently than the next person. They think in different metaphors. The expert – at least the experts that I think deserve that designation are those that think about that audience. They aren’t just people who spout stuff about a subject or who build up a big Twitter following or who have lots of Facebook friends. They are people who have an expertise that they can impart in the metaphors of their audience so that their audience really understands what they are trying to say. These are people who think about doing that too.
The people that I’m going to recommend here are those I look to for learning. They are the ones who actually teach me something. They don’t just rehash others stuff, they don’t spend their lives arguing their picayune niggling gripes about “definitions”; they aren’t in business to maneuver themselves into leadership positions. They don’t backstab or spit at others due their own inadequacies. They’ve become experts because they’ve earned the recognition, not because they are trying to get it.
These experts have ideas that create the seeds of new concepts, or they provide unique frameworks in how they look at a subject, or they are able to advance a discussion in a way that didn’t seem possible twenty minutes before I read the article/post etc. They are thinkers who love ideas and love executing on the ideas. I look to different ones for different things. There are many others who I read that I enjoy but they aren’t the ones that consistently move me to another place in how I’m thinking about something. The ones that I’m highlighting are those that do make me think differently more often than not. I’m going to specify what each does – for me, at least. Others who aren’t on the list, please don’t take offense. Its quite possible I simply forgot to include you – and for that I blame a senior moment or two. Or I enjoy reading what you’re saying and on occasion you too move me to new concepts and ways of thinking. But the ones here are the ones who consistently move me to change how I think and change what I think about, and they are my gods and goddesses.
I’ve listed them by category – The links to their name are to their blogs. Or barring that, to their twitter handle. They are in no particular order at all. All of these are regular or semi-regular bloggers or writers. These are not book authors who don’t blog much. That means you won’t see Joe Pine II or Lior Arussy here since they don’t blog enough – even though they are expert when it comes to customer experience. Folks like them will get a separate post when I lay out the books that affected my life and impacted what I think in business. They also are not those who own the social sites or the aggregators, so you won’t see Robin Carey or Bob Thompson here, both of whom are true influencers. Also, for those here, there are overlaps with some of these guys being experts in multiple categories but I’m only putting a person in one category. There is room for only so much knowledge between my ears before it fries my brain.
- Ray Wang
- Esteban Kolsky
- Brent Leary
- Jeremiah Owyang
- Denis Pombriant
- Prem Kumar
- Mitch Lieberman
- Martin Schneider
- Mike Fauscette
- Brian Vellmure
- Michael Maoz
- Mark Tamis
- Chris Carfi
– Ray is not only one of the most astute enterprise analysts I’ve ever met but he has a solid grasp of Social CRM and how to apply it in the real world which is something that is painfully needed in business now. He also has a heart of gold and a great head for business. He was voted the equivalent of the Analyst MVP two years running for good reason. He is one of the few must-always-read-even-if-you’re-in-a-hurry pundits around.
– This man will frame you. Well, okay, so I’m taking some dramatic license here. He is a master at developing the kind of insights businesses need when it comes to SCRM and then creating frameworks that actually make some sense for businesses to apply. He does this on a solid intellectual foundation and a practical history as a former Gartner analyst. Plus he is really very funny.
– He is the master at the application of SCRM to small business. Very few people can even understand how to apply CRM much less SCRM to small biz. Brent does both and straddles both worlds – CRM and small business as an influential. He can be found on the American Express Open Forum, BET, hanging out with Anita Campbell and of course among the glitterati of the CRM world too. Watch his real world examples of small business success carefully. Plus watch our show The CRM Playaz. Wicked.
– A year and a half ago, Jeremiah was a social media rock star, now he’s put the enterprise into his bucket and he’s not only learned it but he’s actually begun to master it. His insights into companies he’s in touch with are not only priceless but actually usable when making technology decisions. I keep learning.
– What can I say about Denis Pombriant. For all things SaaS, all things macroeconomic and all things SCRM, he’s da man. He is the one who realized that salesforce.com was not only an upcoming company but would be something of a force of nature in the CRM and enterprise world. He called them a “disruptive innovation” when no one else did. Now he’s talking about sustainable CRM companies – take heed.
– this guy is actually the chief SCRM evangelist at Cognizant – a company that is actually beginning to get it and Prem is a guy who totally gets it. He has a keen sense of the technology and a fine sense of the strategy.
– a former VP of SugarCRM, Mitch earned his way up to thought leader even when attached to a vendor. He is an astute analyst who sees SCRM with a depth of perception that most don’t. What Mitch does uniquely is take an idea out there and then drive into it so deeply that you can see all the implications and questions that are contained in the idea. Plus he can do it with a sense of irony.
– Martin has achieved that rare consideration. He is a current vendor employee (senior director in fact) that actually transcends his company’s particular interests. Not terribly surprising in his case, since Martin was a leading analyst in CRM prior to his sojourn at SugarCRM. (they seem to spawn these types at Sugar don’t they?). He understands Social CRM strategy and writes short cogent pieces on what to be looking at when thinking “strategy.” Not many do that – or write as well as Martin. Or can play in a rock band as well as Martin. He was even a pro at that!.
– I’ve known Mike for 12 years (he co-authored my very first book with me on PeopleSoft in 1998) and he never ceases to amaze me. Currently the head of IDC’s enterprise applications practice, he has perhaps the best grasp of social business in the industry and a laissez faire attitude that I love. He genuinely sees how business needs to run when it comes to CRM and SCRM because he was a practitioner himself and also worked for vendors. His experience is perhaps unparalleled among SCRM thought leaders. And that counts for a lot. Besides, the dude can really write.
– Brian is a big idea kind of guy. Look to him when you want to know the difference between, say, traditional CRM and social CRM or understand a concept like. He makes it easy to understand and makes me think “why didn’t I think of that?” constantly.
– Michael is the 800 pound gorilla of the 800 pound gorillas. He is the most utilized Gartner analyst, bar none, I hear tell, and there’s a reason for that. He is foresighted – having figured on this social thing for the last 5-6 years. He is ruthlessly honest, not really worrying about anything but doing the best thing and the most honest thing for his clients. And he has a unique take on the social CRM world – one that’s actually realistic, rather than some of the fantasies that are floating around. He is one of the few analysts who has truly gotten Social CRM and remained connected to an analyst firm. Michael is one of the Gartner analysts responsible for the new Social CRM Magic Quadrant that they are releasing, I think, at the Gartner 360 CRM Summit, that I’m speaking at multiple times – once with the subject of this particular paragraph. Coolio.
– Mark is a smart dude. He drills down deeply into concepts ranging from how strategies work (and differ in customer-driven enterprises to the depths of transparency and authenticity. He doesn’t write enough but he writes really really well. Moves the needle.
– Funny, just as I’m writing this, Chris Carfi joined Edelman Digital as a leader of a group there that will handle Adobe and make sure they stay in the social age. There might be no one better suited than that. Chris is arguably the guy who coined the term “social customer” having developed his blog “The Social Customer” some 6 or 7 years ago; long before anyone else was even thinking of what that social customer might be. He is one of the few who started out in the social and CRM worlds simultaneously and managed to magically and accurately stitch the info. A long time compadre of mine who I think has miles to go before he sleeps in the words of the immortal Robert Browning.
- Bill Band
- Jim Berkowitz
- Mike Boysen
- Don Peppers & Martha Rogers
– Bill Band, who has had years and years of industry experience is not an expert on Social CRM though he fully understands it. But when you’re looking at traditional CRM and its practicalities and how those practicalities are evolving; well, there aren’t many who can give you the step by step than Bill does. Forrester is lucky to have him frankly. I only wish he blogged more than he does.
– Jim is the “tool guy” for CRM. Want to get a unique take on vendor capabilities when it comes to enterprise software? JB is your man and reading him is the plan, Stan. (that so dates me.). Jim spends incredible amounts of time understanding how features and functions can be valued when it comes to enterprise software and the businesses that are going to apply it. If you’re trying to understand the selection process, he’s your man. If you want to know what tools to use, he’s your man.
– Mike Boysen is an iconoclast. A kind of retro-iconoclast who places a great deal of emphasis on what works and what doesn’t when it comes to CRM. While he’s not convinced that SCRM is going to be the harvest of bountiful plenty that most of us think, he is convinced that it has it’s place in the world of traditional CRM where he is an expert – and an expert with a wry sense of humor. A very wry sense of humor. Land on earth is the location for Mike and how he moves the discussion on CRM forward.
– I’m only putting them under this category because they are key business strategists who have shaped the industry for decades and continue to make their mark – and I’m not sure where else to put them. They have been a team forever and they have a quality company that comes from quality thinking – and a quality staff. Not only have they been the creators of 1 to 1 relationship marketing – the forerunner of personalized insight and interaction, but they also sparked the industry discussion with their notion of Return on Customer (ROC) – which transcends ROI. Whether you agree with them or not on this (I do with modifications), they moved the needle and continue to do so with their 1to1 publications.
- Josh Greenbaum
- Michael Krigsman
- Vinnie Mirchandani
- Dennis Howlett
– Josh is tough. Really tough. I’ve heard him at vendor conferences asking what are perhaps the toughest questions that vendors will get at any time during the conference. But the answers are translated by Josh in ways that provide what is one of the most coherent voices in the industry when it comes to interpreting the complexity of large enterprise software vendors and the practitioners implementations of the large “stuff.”
– Michael has a unique role in the world of experts and influencers. He documents failure so that success can be learned. What he’s able to do, which no one else can, is identify problems that have damaged other companies and then provide a foundation for not committing the same mistakes twice. He is thorough, thoughtful and has the good of the industry and interested parties in and around it at heart. He is a must follow who helps the industry.
– Vinnie is best known for his blog “Deal Architect” (see name link) which covers all things topical and enterprise; but he is best represented by his other blog – New Florence, New Renaissance and his new John Wiley published book out at the end of this month – The New Polymath: Profiles in Compound-Technology Innovations – which takes a look at innovation and transformation in the business world from the perspective of a renaissance of new ideas. If he weren’t a Tampa Bay Rays fan, he’d be perfect.
– Dennis is a man of ascerbic wit, passionate belief and devastatingly accurate insight into the enterprise – and he has NO problem saying what he thinks often with a very sharp tongue. He scares companies but actually makes his readers (among them me) think. He is a powerful influencer who understands the enterprise software industry better than most – especially the financial/ERP end of it – and has the chops to prove it.
- Graham Hill
- Wim Rampen
– Graham is always one step ahead – he is an innovative and brilliant thinker, a no holds barred fighter for new business ideas and someone who makes you think, not about social business 101 but about social business 202. Thing is, he isn’t just academic either. He has years and years of experience of doing this for companies. Years. Light years. Check out his Social Business Manifesto from last November, his very last Cust0merThink post. A critical post.
– Eighteen months ago, I didn’t know Wim. Now I do. I’m glad i do, because he is also a key thinker in the co-creation/innovation, social business 202 world. Guy has a brain that must run hot because he is always applying the lessons of co-creation to real life. Not easy to do, given the infrequency of success that the combination has. But he is an optimistic guy who is a forward thinker that simply should be read.
- Sameer Patel
- Dion Hinchcliffe
- Oliver Marks
- Andrew McAfee
– Sameer is an enterprise software industry veteran, who is not only one of the best writers on collaboration out there but also a keen observer of what’s going on when it comes to trends. He is someone who gets down to the core of an issue or digs out a strength where others may just gloss over it. He is one of the clearest voices and strongest influences in the Enterprise 2.0 space.
– Dion is a superstar. Joining the Dachis Group in April hasn’t changed a thing when it comes to his incredibly comprehensive, cogent blog posts – often for ZDNet (see blog link at name). He is someone who blogs less often but when he does, his blog postings are blockbusters. They establish frameworks, interconnections (e.g. between Enterprise 2.0 and SCRM), maturity models, technology models, you name it. What is astounding is how clearly he does it. He is a serious must read in this space. Deep, deep knowledge. Plus an aggregator of resources of the first order.
– Oliver, who is partnered with Sameer Patel in the E20 space is also someone who you need to read. He is an astute thinker who covers issues in the collaboration space as often as he covers techniques and approaches. Someone who gets down to the core and is scrupulously honest in his assessments with no agenda but reality.
– While I’m always called the Godfather of CRM, Andrew McAfee is the father of the Enterprise 2.0 – and has been since his 2006 publication in the Sloan Management Review of Enterprise 2.0: The Dawn of Emergent Collaboration. Honestly, aside from his deep commitment to the Boston Red Sox, the man has nothing wrong with him. He is the guy who created the SLATE model of E20 (see the article) and made the idea of using social tools internally at a company, not just interesting, but de rigueur. Someone that you must pay attention to because what he says in his writings and books is just right and provocative. Just get a load of his latest blog posting on the iPad, which is awesome, ascerbic, funny and pointedly right. He sits on the curve in a way that makes the curve move ahead of itself. If you catch my drift. But that Red Sox thing…..