My CRM goes to 11

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When you live on a scale from 1 to 10, getting to 11 seems nearly impossible for anyone entrenched in the current thinking of CRM. Perhaps this is why Clay Christensen says growth exists where there are no numbers. No one even knows what 11 is, but they all want it.

Thus, we are constantly in pursuit of new features for stale, old CRM suites (or any other product or service for that matter). Even though the search for 11 is constant, no one know where to look; so CRM is stuck in the 1-10 world…yes even the elite vendors! I have to admit that I do see some pretty nice sustaining innovations on occasion; but they are things that have been clearly asked for by customers or partners over the years – the technology just hadn’t caught up yet. Disruptive innovation occurs along dimensions customers generally can’t articulate.

It becomes increasingly expensive as vendors pursue and offer the magical “11” feature…over and over again; when it’s actually 10.999999999. However, if you do find a way to get to 11, then you are actually on the ground floor of an entirely new level of growth. This is what vendors and customers just don’t seem to understand (or care about). In fact, very few folks seem to really want to understand it on a day to day basis.

I’m different, of course! I think “11” is actually “1.”

Case in point,



  1. the cassette tape;

Case in point,

  1. the CD;

Case in point,

  1. the MP3;

Case in point,

  1. the iPod;

Case in point,

  1. the iPhone/Smartphone.

How the heck did I get from the cassette tape to a Smartphone? That’s easy, I was able to look back in time and realize that improving the cassette tape was not the appropriate path. Who would have thought we would get nearly unlimited, crystal clear music on a hand help mobile phone back in the late 70’s? The problem, of course, is that a forward-looking system that allows you to identify opportunity that has never existed…has never existed. At least, that’s what the 1-10’ers believe. My CRM goes to “11” because I do know that there is a way to view the world that can help find the best path to creating future value to the firm.

Everything moves to closer to utility

Who would’ve thought buggy whips would now be a brand of dune buggy antennas/flags 150 years ago?



While most vendors continue to seek “value-add” with new sustaining features (adding 9’s to a 10), a small few, either by luck or by an ingenious targeting system, are able to avoid markets which are over-served, as well as to see when there are invisible under-served markets. Once they know where to look, they can evaluate their capabilities (or access to capabilities) and new solutions for new growth markets become clearer. Meanwhile, previous solutions migrate toward standards that commoditize their value. If they live on, the standards become the foundation of a completely new platform (like electricity!) Value lives on, just not your brand value.

Adding 11 to your “amp” dial seems like a stupid marketing/product feature trick on the surface (and was funny as hell in the movie!), just as many will think new mental models are stupid. Most folks current mental models prevent them from changing the paradigm. Nigel Tufnel was no genius, but at least he tried. Unfortunately, he got duped; just like so many of us do every day.

Which innovative CRM feature (or service) “got” you?

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