I have to tell you up front – this is not strictly a forecast. There are elements of a forecast – a few likely trends for 2012 are embedded in the piece. But just so expectations are clear, this is more of an assessment of what I think is an important shift in Social CRM and the customer facing side of social business. At least, important to me, since for the life of me, I can never understand why anyone pays attention to what I say, but in the spirit of the season, I am eternally grateful that someone does.
One other thing, what you are reading here is something longer than an executive summary of my assessment of the shift, but not the full monte. Based on some advice from my dear dear friend and major league thought leader Esteban Kolsky, I am working on the final parts of a longer report (20+ pages) which is a more complete discussion as my first “occasional paper” of 2012. It will be available for free upon request – One of my new years resolutions is shorter posts with occasional PDFs that reflect more complete thinking. Not that this is a “shorter” post. But then its not the new year yet either. (Please send all requests for the document to my email at email@example.com.)
Also, truthfully, I’m kind of uncomfortable with this post too. While I’m pretty sure my conclusion is right, I’m not entirely at ease with what it took to get there. I’ll leave it at that. So I reserve the right to treat this as a work in progress.
Also, Part II of this post is on PGreenblog here. The actual “predictions” are there. This part is the explanatory justification for what I see as the shifting of the dynamics in the (social) business world.
What I Mean By Customer Engagement
For the purposes of this post and going forward, I’d like to start with a definition of what “customer engagement’ is and isn’t, so there is no doubt about what the era of customer engagement means.
- First, It doesn’t mean the era of customer intimacy though that is an optimally desired “condition” for a company’s view and relationship to its customers. But engagement doesn’t require intimacy or advocacy. However, aiming at creating advocates from among your customers is part of a smart strategy.
- It also doesn’t mean customer loyalty. That may and I mean may be an outcome of successful engagement with the customer – though, as V. Kumar pointed out in 2000, the correlation of loyalty to profitability is mediocre to fair, not good, so there are questions of the value of that outcome.
- It also doesn’t mean it is identified by the length of time that the customer is involved with you without some extra analysis. Otherwise, inertia, which occurs when the cost of switching (financial, labor cost, emotional cost) is greater than the value perceived of the result, would seem to be engagement, when it isn’t. So it isn’t just a function of the time a customer and a company are involved.
- What customer engagement does mean (so there is no nebulosity here) is the company’s and the customer’s relationship is defined by the customer’s ongoing involvement with the company for their own specific reasons. The company doesn’t have to know all of them.
- It does mean that it is an era where the engagement the customer has with the company is controlled by the customer – and it can be at any level. Intense, casual, continuous, occasional, deeply involved, barely transactional. The key phrase is “customer self-selection.”
- It does mean that the company model is to provide the customer with the products, services, tools and experiences that the customer needs to make an intelligent decision on how they want to be (selectively) engaged with the company. This is engagement programs organized around an ecosystem that are based on customer self-selection.
- It does mean the provision of a measurable result when it comes to that engagement via direct or indirect impact on revenue or some other key performance indicators that show the value of the engagement to the company – and the customer. Though they are different values.
- It does mean the use of systems of engagement (see Ray Wang discussion here and Dion Hinchcliffe here) which are systems that foster the interaction of the company with the customer. They can range from enterprise feedback systems to insight solutions to online communities to internal collaboration. But fundamental is that they are systems that can foster activity among the choice multiple combinations of employees and customers e.g. customer to customer; employee to customer.
The Era of the Social Customer Ends…..
As you know for the last 10 years, I’ve been proselytizing about the era of the social customer. That meant that the social customer, a technology savvy, peer trusting, highly demanding, relatively affluent customer who leverages the web for conversations that can impact business – was becoming prominent and disproportionately influential. Business’ requirements in era of the social customer were reflected by my definition of Social CRM’s last sentence – “The company’s response to the customer’s control of the conversation,” and its most recent permutation which adds the word “programmatic” in front of response. This and its original formulation – “the company’s response to the customer’s ownership of the conversation” become the de factodefinition – i.e. most quoted – of the time – with over 36,000 strict Google hits for the combination of the two (on December 20 at least). Social customers, because of their aggressive approach to using the social web, stood out and forced businesses to start to respond to the new forms and channels of communication that the customers were engaging in. For the first time, marketers and customer service agents, and to a lesser extent, sales people were forced to respond to people they couldn’t push a message to or define a response to and to people who were communicating in channels the company didn’t control.
That led to a period of experimentation using social channels without a clear picture of an ROI, or best practices to latch onto or strategies that were fully formulated or technologies that were fully evolved that has been evolving as long as the external social networks like Twitter and Facebook have been growing. CRM began to morph into Social CRM, business into social business, and internal collaboration became more than just an advanced idea and was put into practice at many of the Global 2000 companies and some even smaller than that. But the total spend in 2010 on social software was according to Gartner, $770 million, a fraction of the CRM market which was around $15 billion in 2010, $16.5 billion in 2011 and projected to be more than $18 billion in 2012 by IDC.
But a significant number of those “social experiments” were successful. So rather than edge cases from a handful of progressive companies, as 2011 started to close, we began seeing story after story, case study after case study about the success of “social.” We began to see a positive return for CRM itself, with Nucleus Research identifying an average $5.60 return on the dollar for each CRM program that they reviewed. Multiple vendors provided so-called “Social CRM” products and services (more on that soon) and even more interesting, the key consulting firms like Accenture, Cognizant, Infosys, Booz-Allen, CAP Gemini, and CSC either created explicit Social CRM practices or began to compete on Social CRM projects, because they saw a significant market opportunity. For the first time, we began seeing leading academicians and consultants, like Dr. V. Kumar, create a quantifiable metric for the revenue impact that social customers were having on a company that was designed to work with the traditional measure of customer lifetime value (CLV). He called it Customer Referral Value (CRV) which addressed the issue of a loyal customer versus an advocate and showed the indirect impact of “word of mouth” on company revenue. (For an excellent article on it, please read this Harvard Business Review article) (otherwise, read Dr. Kumar’s book, “Managing Customers for Profit”)
Additionally, studies began to appear to corroborate this. EConsultancy released its second annual “The State of Social Report 2011″ that appeared in November. What it confirmed is that just short of two thirds of the companies polled (more than 1000) were now using multichannel strategies across business functions that included social, rather than unique social channel strategies. It was put as they were “beyond the experimental stage.” These strategies encompassed things like marketing, customer service and customer feedback among other things.
Not only that, but what became increasingly apparent and was borne out by reading several hundred different articles, posts, comments, etc. on CRM and Social CRM was that Social CRM was what many, especially those new the world of CRM thought that CRM was. In other words, there was less and less reason to distinguish between CRM and Social CRM. Social CRM has almost (note the word “almost”) become what CRM is.
Interestingly, another pattern emerged. There was a specific perception of SCRM that was somewhat different than the definition of Social CRM that either I or others had given it. After running through those hundreds of discussions, here is an aggregate of the perception from the veteran practitioners of CRM to noobies as to what Social CRM is:
“Social CRM is the integration of traditional operational customer facing activities including strategies, programs, systems, and technologies with emergent social channels to provide businesses with the means to communicate and engage with customers in their preferred channels for mutual benefit.”
Note I said this is the perception of Social CRM. While it isn’t entirely accurate or comprehensive enough, it is good enough for now. It is what most people will think when you use the term Social CRM – if they know what it is at all.
What this and other matters that are developed more fully in the 20 page opinion piece leads me to conclude is something that I think will impact business models, actions, strategies, programs and technology development well beyond 2012, though I think 2012 is a nodal point in this evolution. The best way to put this?
…The Era of Customer Engagement Begins
The social customer is no longer a customer to gawk out, just a customer to deal with – like any other customer, with one explicit difference. He/she scales. Meaning they know how to impact other customers on a large scale who are “like them” in interests, and use the social channels that are not controlled by the company to do so.
But this is no longer what businesses take as a special case. What defines the Era of Customer Engagement more than anything is that so-called social channel strategy is now a normal part of multichannel strategy for the company. To be clear, customer engagement means that customers are part of the company’s collaborative value chain. The customer selects how they want to interact with you, and hopefully uses your products, services, tools and consumable experiences to make that decision. Most companies recognize the value in being closer to the customer. In fact, IBM’s Institute for Business Value, in its 2010 CEO study found that the most important imperative for the next five years for CEOs – 88% of them to be exact – is to be closer to their customers.
But the era of customer engagement implies a lot more than that. Here are some of its characteristics and implications for your business:
- It starts from the assumption that you are going to incorporate social channels into your customer communications.
- It identifies how you can enable collaboration at your business for better productivity and effective employees.
- It says that you might even go as far as converting your overall culture and business focus to a social business which means empowering (and incentivizing) employees to be able to deal with customers wherever and whenever (among other things).
- It means that your business understands how internal collaboration and customer interaction/involvement are not only converging but can be an important influence in your strategic direction.
- It means that you understand that the customers social information is as important as and complementary to their transactional information.
- It suggests that you realize that we have enough case studies, surveys, practical examples, business models, strategic parameters, frameworks, metrics, success and failure stories, programs, best practices and systems to actual engage the customer. What is needed beyond that is cultural recognition and acceptance so that adoption of these new approaches is strong.
- It requires that you see the channels that are already there (much less the future ones) are communications media for you and your customer working together as subjects of an experience and partners, rather than objects of a sale and clients.
- It also means that you recognize that there is clear evidence that the use of traditional channels is not only not ending but will continue to be vibrant and that social channels are newer, more highly scalable, will have more potential impact because of that, but will never replace traditional channels. Social channels may not be traditional, but they are now as mainstream as traditional channels.
- It means that you’ll stop treating the social customer as an object of wonder that you bow down to because of their remarkable powers to change your business – and start treating them like a customer who is operating in a set of channels that have unique protocols that you have to learn.
- It means that we’ve reached the point that we can be proactive in dealing with all the “conversation out there” on the social web, rather than waiting to react to every little bad word that a customer says on Twitter when we see it.
- It means that we need to recognize that there are tools that actually can do some good in a number of ways but they, like always, have to be chosen well, implemented properly, and adopted by those that are needed to use them so that you get the results that you are looking for.
- It is a recognition that while many customers are thinking differently and have much greater expectations of companies, they are still looking for, what the Edelman Trust Barometer in 2011 defined as “high quality products and services”, and a company that they can trust – something which hasn’t changed one iota – ever.
- It means understanding that now practitioners have their own perception of what Social CRM is (see above) and it isn’t entirely the analyst/pundit/influencer definition, but it is going to have to do.
- It is an understanding that while the strategies, programs et. al are now maturing and have a sufficient body of knowledge to back them up, the technologies capabilities tend to lag the strategies and programs requirements. It is time to set some standards as to what can be called “Social CRM” software.
- It is based on an idea that advocacy is a centralized focus for customer strategy – not the advocacy proposed by NPS but one closer to what Dr. V. Kumar proposed with Customer Referral value – a person who can indirectly impact revenue performance through his/her influence in any channels where he can communicate with a potential customer who is “someone like (him/her)” That means a focus on creating the environment that encourages the advocates but allows all customers to effectively self-select – decide how much and which way(s) they want to engage with you from passionate advocate to occasional buyer.
Gamification becomes Serious Business
No matter how old you are, human beings never lose their desire to play. Play makes us happy. Each of us, and I challenge you to deny this, wants to have a happy life. We do what we have to in life to improve our chances to have one. One of those things is to have as many happy moments as we can accumulate throughout our lives. Even if we aren’t all that universally happy (not projecting here), each of us has had times where we were that we can point to.
Gamification, while often over hyped and misunderstood, is a concept that has increasingly important business value. It doesn’t mean playing games; it isn’t game theory; it isn’t a form of hunting meat. My favorite definition comes from Constellation Research Group CEO (and key influencer) (and great friend) Ray Wang from his recent research paper, “Demystifying Enterprise Gamification for Business:Behind the Hype of Influencing Behaviors and Effecting Business Outcomes:”
“Gamification describes a series of design principles, processes and systems used to influence, engage and motivate individuals, groups and communities to drive behaviors and effect desired outcomes.”
To see it in action, even in an unexpected place, take a look at how SAP has gamified Accounts Payable. As odd as that may sound, they’ve done a genuinely good job. Here is a post on it with screenshots at Enterprise Gamification.
These aren’t edge cases for a small niche. Gartner Group in April 2011 thinks that by 2014, 70% of all businesses in the Global 2000 will have “gamified apps.” Research firm, M2 says that by 2016, the gamification market, currently sized at $100,000,000 will reach $2.8 billion, with 200% growth in 2012.
In other words this is starting to get big.
We’re already seeing sophisticated gamification frameworks being set up. Innovative small companies like the award-winning UK virtual mobile network operator GiffGaff used gamification to recruit their initial customer community prior to their beta launch by providing DIY tools to create videos – the best of which got a £5000 prize.
Ray Wong, Gartner, M2, all say gamification in a big way starting this year over the next few. I say, amen, brothers and sisters.
Insight Solutions will emerge as a technology category of its own
One thing that we can’t ignore (okay, that I can’t ignore) is that if customer engagement is to work, then insights into how customers want it to work are becoming increasingly necessary.
But again, we’re dealing with scale and we’re dealing with a dynamic social web with constant conversations that are liquid and changing continually. They are being carried out in multiple channels – channels that number all in all, in the thousands, both public and private.
The current generation of social media monitoring tools with a few exceptions – Radian6 and Attensity come immediately to mind – are somewhat passive tools that scour the web, find the conversations and organize unstructured data in the form of a report that provides the users with what is being said, usually in a positive, negative or neutral vein. The better tools provide strong analytic capabilities that give some insight into how customer segments are thinking or how “nodes” are responding. That would be Attensity, for example. Or they provide highly focused, highly specific, well thought out intelligence such as the sales intelligence focus of InsideView. Radian6 takes this to a whole new level with their Insights Platform which takes Radian6’s vast data mining and information organizing capabilities and integrate other technology tools that combined with Radian6 provide deep insight into individual customers, if that’s where you want to go. With the future capacity to tie this to salesforce.com or database.com or data.com transactional data, and contact information, we are beginning to see how an insight solution would work. It’s obvious limitation is that it will be tied to salesforce.com only customer data. But that aside, we are talking about something that at least foreshadows what are a future class of applications. Bryan Jennewein, the product manager for the Insights platform calls the results “social insight”, which is not an inappropriate term, in this case.
But Radian6 hardly plays in its own sandbox here. There are a number of emerging players in this space which I’m calling “insight solutions” who have been misplaced in or evolved from other market categories. Currently, the runaway number #1 of these for me is Coveo, which came from the Enterprise Search space. Following them is Allegiance, emerging from the Enterprise Feedback Management world and Lattice Engines, which inhabits the sales intelligence world uncomfortably. Another newcomer that has flown under the radar is WiseWindow, a “mass opinion business intelligence” (MOBI) provider, who specializes in vertical insights among other things and come from the BI world All four have the technology to provide insights. Each takes an entirely different approach to attaining the knowledge that can support insight, but each minimally provides dynamic data mining, collaboration and analytics. All four either can or do integrate with CRM, by the way.
This is not to say that more “traditional” analytics such as text and sentiment analysis, business intelligence, etc are going to be replaced or suffering. In 2012, they will be even more important than they are now.
Several vendors are either upping the ante or providing new ways of looking at the data – all in the name of recognition of the importance of insight – into customers primarily, but also employees, opportunities, processes, etc.
For example, Clarabridge is both upping the ante and providing a new approach to analytics by taking sentiment analysis to a whole other level beyond the traditional five-point expression (very positive, positive, neutral, negative, very negative) and ratcheting it up to eleven points using semantic analysis so that there is context to the sentiment, besides. Recently, SAP, despite the fact that they own the best analytics firm known to man – Business Objects, recently announced a partnership with social analytics provider Netbase to become a VAR that would sell “SAP Social Analytics by Netbase” to their customers. They realized like others before them, insight is 2012 table stakes and social data is the tableware.
Analytics as a whole is becoming fundamental to all business strategy. 2012 brings more of that than ever and the rise of a new category customer-focused solution that provides a combination the surfacing of dynamic information and the analysis of that behavior as dynamically as it is surfaced.
An optimal customer experience becomes the core of what CRM can provide. Finally.
In 2011, we saw a significant shift away from the pure left-brained messaging of CRM toward a much stronger focus on customer interactions, engagement and behaviors. Traditional CRM vendors for reasons that are both good and bad began to rebrand their messaging around the idea of technologies that can support an enhanced customer experience. The good reason is that they needed to do that and they did. The bad reason is that they did it as a reaction to historic CRM bad press a lot of times, rather than just recognizing that the context had shifted and we were entering a period that demanded that customer experience and engagement got attention. Right results, sometimes wrong reasons.
Vendors like Sword-Ciboodle have taken it further and begun to present their product portfolios not as a menu of features and functions but around solution sets that help you do your jobs better. The name for it is jobs-based thinking. The academic framework for that is Service Design Logic, something that is gaining increasing credence in the business world. If you look at the Sword-Ciboodle site, you’ll see that it’s got a roles-based focus. The reason for this is that there is a recognition that we are dealing with behaviors – both customers and employees, not just products.
But the interest in providing the “right” customer experience high. Witness these numbers that come from the “2011 State of Customer Experience Management” put together by ubër-expert Bruce Temkin, the leading customer experience influencer and best of the lot in my book. These numbers are indicative of both where things are (not new but embedded) and where they can go (toward maturity). Temkin found that:
- Nearly 60% of the companies surveyed have a senior executive in charge of customer experience
- There are 30% of the companies that have 20+ employees who are delegated to the customer experience
- There have been positive results (measureable ones, people!) from Voice of the Customer programs in 84% of the companies using them
- The percentage of companies that received a moderate or better competency rating rose from 22% on 2010 to 30% in 2011.
That’s the good news.
The signs that this is still immature?
· “Only 3% of companies reached the highest level of customer experience maturity, which (Temkin calls) a Customer-Centric Organization
· Only 17% of respondents believe that their executives regularly support decisions to trade off short-term financial results for longer-term customer loyalty.” (source: Temkin, 2011 State of Customer Experience Management)
That means that there is a lot of room to grow and in 2012, I expect that we’ll see a continuation of these efforts to improve and get measurable benefit, though nothing dramatic.
The only real “trend” that will likely stand out when it comes to customer experience in 2012 is that I think vendor messaging will be increasingly focused around it. That’s not really much of a trend, if you think about it. You feel me?
Social marketing becomes an integral part of an explosive marketing automation sector
Social marketing and the broader, customer-facing interactive marketing are becoming ubiquitous as customer engagement becomes the increasing focus of companies thoughts.
Chief Marketer in their 2011 Social Marketing survey found that 73% of the respondent companies were incorporating some kind of “social messaging” into their marketing campaigns and in 2012 an additional 10% (meaning around 83%) would be doing the same. What’s interesting is the primary reason that the respondents were doing so. Fully 85% of them felt it was a way to “reach customers at multiple touchpoints.” That’s 25% more than the next reason, which is that customers are spending more time on social networks. In other words, there is a recognition that social channels are now part of the mainstream and that they are additions to the channels that we’ve reached customers on traditionally. To get a feel for how big a deal this really is, in August 2011, Forrester Group came out with their “U.S. Interactive Marketing Forecast, 2011-2016” and saw the market spend up from $34 billion in 2011 to nearly $42 billion in 2012 and $77 billion by 2016. The bulk of the spend will be in the more traditional channels of interactive marketing – e.g. display ads and search marketing with emerging marketing such as mobile and social increasing about 250% in that time.
This is not surprising and if you look at it, the technologies available are once again more primitive than the efforts expended by the practitioner marketing departments.
The vendors are beginning to recognize the value of social marketing and are trying mightily to catch up and either incorporate it into their existing marketing automation or revenue performance management (sigh) applications and services. There are only a few genuinely useful pure social marketing or niche related apps out there at the moment, notably CRM Idol 2011 finalist Crowd Factory. One example of a niche related vendor would be the FuzeDigital reputation engine.
However the larger marketing automation/revenue performance vendors are taking note too. We are seeing social features being incorporated into more traditional applications from Marketo, Eloqua and Silverpop for example. Analytics giant SAS, rather than incorporating too much social into their marketing automation application, built and social media analytics application to take the pulse of the brand conversations going on out there. Companies like Infor, who provide customer interaction engines like Epiphany are using them to engage their prospects.
2012 will bring us continued explosive growth in marketing, especially social marketing because we have reached ubiquity when it comes to utilizing social channels as part of campaign planning. The more engagement is on the table, the more that marketing – with social marketing functionality as a prerequisite for a contemporary marketing suite – will grow dramatically. Forrester has it partially right with the increase of some 20% year over year in interactive marketing expenditures.
Think I’m wrong? Prove it. Launch a campaign on Twitter to do that. Ha!
Short Bursts: Other Trends
These aren’t meant to be full blown prognostications – just short takes on interesting trends that I’ve noticed that I want to make you aware of. There is too much in the sections above for me to draw these out but I didn’t think I should ignore them even if I don’t spend a lot of digital ink making the case.
- Mobile CRM – As in 2011, the creative development of mobile CRM will be driven by the tablet market and by the ability to analyze large amounts of data quickly that will show up on the tablets. The iPad will still be the dominant driver of mobile CRM application development. But we will see more activity around mobile payment than we will around anything else as Near Field Communication (NFC) is deployed on devices to a much greater extent than 2011 and Google Wallet grabs share of….mind as more and more businesses adopt.
- Small Business SCRM – The success of Hubspot in 2011 and the emergence of a myriad of other technology platforms and companies who are small business focused (see CRM Idol again for many of the technology companies who concentrate on small business) is an indicator of the interest that small business has when it comes to doing business using social channels. I’m going to leave the details to Brent Leary in a forthcoming post here on the small business CRM market in 2012.
- Big Data Becomes Really Big Data – The issue of how to data the massive increase in data and especially desirable data becomes possible the highlight of 2012. This is being fueled by the substantial increases in unstructured data on the social web, in the use of video, images, audio files and other rich data and by the growing ubiquity of the cloud all leading to what IDC feels is going to jump to more than 2.7 zettabytes (that would be 1021) in 2012, which is 48% higher rate of growth than 2011 – and 90% of it will be unstructured (Source: IDC Predictions for 2012: Competing for 2020). Managing this data will drive not only the storage and infrastructure markets, but will make even more “traditional” areas like Master Data Management (MDM) something that businesses will be investing in. This is a massive opportunity and a massive issue.
- Acquisitions – The shrinkage of the market via acquisitions and it’s strengthening via strategic partnerships that support Social CRM and social business ecosystems will continue as they did in 2011. IN 2011 we saw, among others, salesforce.com acquiring DimDim, Radian6, Assistly, Model Metrics and Rypple; Oracle acquiring Inquira, Endeca and RightNow; SAP acquiring SuccessFactors and Microsoft acquiring Skype. We also saw a key strategic partnership between IBM and SugarCRM which was crucial to both companies. There will be more of the same in 2012 with interesting acquisition targets (at least interesting to me, not because I heard anything. Just to be clear) will be Marketo, InsideView, Coveo, SugarCRM and a handful of others including several of the CRM Idol contestants. Though, as always I’m sure I’ll be surprised and completely wrong. But acquisitions and partnerships will be the stars of 2012, whether I’m surprised or wrong or not.
- The Cloud – 2012 continues the bandwagon though the hype will slow. This year not only did we see Amazon continue to be the cloud to beat, but companies like Oracle announce their “public cloud” and SAP went deep into the cloud as they announced at the recent SAP Business Influencers Conference not only buying SuccessFactors shortly after they announced that they wanted to significantly compete in the cloud but also announcing that from here on they are going to architect what they produce as cloud and will adapt it to on premises, rather than the other way around – a 180° turn in philosophy and development strategy. We also saw the cloud become the delivery system of choice, if you take it from the rate of adoption, not the amount of deployments out there in the on premises v. the cloud competition. Since this is short, let me recommend the always fantastic, quiet thought leader, Louis Columbus’ great aggregation post on cloud adoption. Read that to get the picture. On premises still is the dominant installation for CRM and other business technology, with hybrid deployments a popular option – and one offered by companies who have historically been invested in on premises software. In fact, all the leaders but salesforce.com offer it as part of their portfolio. More of this in 2012 as the unstoppable cloud juggernaut continues to gain delivery mechanism share.
- Innovation/Co-Creation – This will continue to be in the purview of the most progressive companies – the leading edge of thinking and practice in business. But only at the lowest levels – feedback etc. will it be pre-eminent. The true practitioners of co-creation are just beginning to make their appearance on the global stage. I expect we’ll see most of this in the Fortune 3500 companies. I’ll be writing more on this and you’ll be seeing guest posts on this subject in 2012.
- Knowledge Management – while there will be no slacking off of the existing models for knowledge management – accessible knowledgebases being the core of that – there will be considerably more focus on dynamic knowledge with as close to real time response as possible and the use of knowledge for insight (via analysis). The technologies to meet the requirements for the latter are just beginning to appear in the market. Knowledge grabbed from customer user forums and other external “unstructured”:
- Applications Marketplaces – Application marketplaces are becoming increasingly prevalent as more and more companies begin to view things from the standpoint of providing their customers with customized/configurable ecosystems. So now, in addition to the technology company marketplaces we know and…whatever emotion you want goes here….we are seeing even government agencies like the U.S. General Services Administration or the U.S. Army providing these application marketplaces to their constituents – in the former case, the other U.S. federal agencies and the latter case, varying Army commands. There is no reason to think that this is going to slack in 2012. In fact, look for it to accelerate.
The One By Itself
This is the most important prognostication for 2012. Period.
The Yankees Win the World Series – Locked and loaded. Our starting pitching straightens itself out, Teixeira gets his batting average back to a normal .290 or so; A-Rod revives his career enough to be a difference maker; Jeter just continues from his 2011 second half and Rivera of course is Rivera. Thus, The Yankees Win. The Yankeeeeeees Wiiiiiiiiin! Yay!
Look. This may be the most uncomfortable “forecast” I’ve ever made. It wasn’t easy. I’m evolving a perspective I’ve had for almost 10 years and it has implications that are important, though not that dramatic, for how the industry will be developing and the strategies that need to be considered – if I’m right.
But if there is one thing I’ve learned, there is a way to think about all this. You make as good a case as your observations allow and then get on with your life and see how the next year plays out. Which is what I’m now doing for 2012.