Friday, 4 May 2012
Why CRM Idol matters to EMEA software companies
Earlier this week Paul Greenberg announced the second season of CRM Idol. This year the competition has gone global with categories in the US, EMEA and Asia / Australasia. I’m delighted to be one of the 4 primary judges in EMEA. Last year was an eye-opening experience both for contestants and judges alike in EMEA. BPMonline, a SaaS vendor combining CRM and BPM, blew the panel of extended judges away with their final presentation and won the competition. To be frank, I’d never heard of BPMonline before CRM Idol 2011, but in my mind that’s the point – I’d been missing out.
Paul Greenberg introduced CRM Idol, in his words, to “give something back to the CRM industry” and to “give up and coming CRM vendors a chance to shine” that they wouldn’t normally get. Paul has given more to the CRM industry than anyone I know, so he really doesn’t need to worry about the first point, but his second point hits the nail on the head. Having spent nearly 15 years working both for and with enterprise CRM software vendors I know full well that much of the innovation that happens in the CRM market happens outside the development labs of the big few. That’s not to say that they don’t innovate, but many have major development challenges to integrate newly acquired products, re-platform their on-premise solutions to SaaS, migrate customers from old versions of their product to the latest release – these initiatives quite rightly suck up vast amounts of development resource and ensure they stay competitive in the market.
By their very nature, start-up software vendors simply don’t have these challenges. They start from a clean sheet of paper, using the latest technology and standards. They are agile in every sense of the word responding to customer and market trends in near real time and often releasing new iterations to their products on a weekly basis. They tap into the latest thinking in open-source communities, launch-pads and co-working facilities. In short, the start-ups have an opportunity to do things that large enterprise software vendors can only dream of. Many create new categories of software and go on to great things, others compliment the eco-systems of the big few providing niche, value-added solutions. But each face a challenge 12 months or so into development – that of getting noticed in a crowded market.
Although the CRM software market has historically be centered around Silicon Valley (Siebel, Salesforce.com, SAP Labs Paolo Alto), Europe is blessed with some real hot-beds of technology innovation. From web developers in Tallinn to semantic scientists in Tel Aviv, to IP Telephony pioneers in Helsinki, EMEA is a great place to be. EMEA also has a thriving Digital heart in London’s Shoreditch around the so-called Silicon Roundabout that has given birth to hundreds of tech start-ups like Tweetdeck, Dopplr and Last.fm. CRM Idol gives those vendors connected with the CRM industry a chance to show their wares to 70 or so of the most influential independents in the CRM / SCRM market – people like Denis Pombriant, Esteban Kolsky, Ray Wang, Michael Fauscette & William Band have been driving thought-leadership in the CRM industry for the best part of 20 years. In addition, there are some valuable prizes to be won like free consulting days, pitches to venture capital firms and free lead-gen webinars.