Can CRM Stop “Middle-Age Spread”? (Lessons From Google and Toyota)


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It’s commonly believed that, as we get older, it’s only natural to get a bit thicker around the middle. But the real reason we get fat is we get less active and lose muscle, while continuing to eat the same amount.

Today Google made news by surpassing Microsoft as the world’s busiest web site. And, Google was also recently recognized as the world’s most popular brand, again beating out Microsoft and the likes of Coca Cola, GE, IBM, and Wal-Mart.

In other news, it’s now official that Toyota is the world’s largest automaker, passing GM as it stuggles to improve car designs while battling an uncompetitive cost structure. We all knew it was coming, it was just a question of when.

My last BusinessWeek (April 30, 2007) featured a yellow frowny face with the headline: “Wal-Mart’s Midlife Crisis.” Still huge and making money, but the glory days are over for Wal-Mart as consumers opt for more hip and friendly—yet still cost-conscious—brands like Target.

Is it inevitable that older mean slower? Can anyone name brands that have been around a long time, yet still act young and strong?

And, can CRM mitigate the effects of getting older, like diet and exercise help combate middle-age spread? Add your comments below.


  1. As a corporate trainer for, a hosted CRM company that directly integrates CTI dialing, it’s an interesting question. Our company is growing, but we have hardly reached the “mature” phase as you’ve described.

    As a trainer, though, it’s interesting to watch businesses begin the process of integrating CRM concepts into their existing business model. Some find the ideas of customer and lead management compelling; others approach it as a necessary evil. My own observations are that businesses that successfully integrate CRM seem to have a clear, strategic vision of their market and how they target that market.

    The real question of how size or longevity affects a business’s need for CRM is probably too nebulous to quantify. I guess the question would be, does a business ever reach a “critical mass” point where it’s own inertia and brand dominance (i.e., Intel, Wal-Mart, Coca-Cola) negate the need for CRM? On a certain level I might say “yes.” Intel is going to sell hundreds of millions of microprocessors a year regardless of how they manage customer relationships. Companies that can leverage their positions as market leaders may have less incentive to use CRM, because each individual “point of sale” with a customer becomes less crucial, as they literally have millions of other options.

    That being said, in some instances CRM could provide huge material benefits. An account executive at Intel is going to watch very closely activity at say, Dell and HP. CRM isn’t going to save a business the size of Intel’s—but it could provide extremely useful data into companies’ agendas, trends, and overall corporate atmosphere.

  2. Older companies do not have to be slower. It is people who make companies so if the agility is kept young enough the companies stay young. This howvere requires continuous repositioning every few years. It is a bit naive to compare companies to normal human beings. Companies are more like bionic beings. You can replace/recharge parts and become new again. Also it is possible to continually have new offsprings that infuse new blood into the the company. New products, new markets, new uses, new delivery systems are continuously needed and this is where CRM helps


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