Who are the Next Generation of CRM Thinkers?


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I read a huge amount of stuff about CRM on this and many other CRM portals. Most of what I read is to be blunt, pretty pedestrian. It is aimed for the newbie to CRM, or it tackles one small part of a larger CRM challenge, or it just repeates what countless other CRM pundits have said before. It is interesting, but it isn’t going to change how we look at CRM either now, or in the future.

Somewhere out there are the next generation of CRM thinkers; those people whose ideas are going to be game changers for us all. But who are they? This has nothing to do with age or experience. One of the CRM game changers is CRM consultant Paul Greenberg, whose CRM 2.0 ideas are now turning into reality. Albeit not without a few struggles along the way.

Another pair of CRM game changers are academics Vargo & Lusch with their writing about service dominant logic. The radical idea that marketing should be co-created with customers and should concentrate on the post-purchase period where all the value is delivered to the customer as products are used. This opens up a whole new world for marketers to co-create value together with customers.

Yet another is Tony Ulwick of Strategyn with his emphasis on the jobs customers are trying to do and the outcomes they desire from doing them. Jobs & desired outcomes is already providing a vastly superior starting point for customer-driven innovation and is already being taught to B-School classes. And not just in Clayton Christenson’s classes either.

But who are the other CRM game changers out there? The people whose stuff we ought to be reading now, so that we can be prepared for what is to come in the future.

Please tell us who you think the CRM game changers are.

Graham Hill
Customer-driven Innovator

Graham Hill (Dr G)
Business Troubleshooter | Questioning | Thoughtful | Industrious | Opinions my own | Connect with me on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/grahamhill/


  1. Here are a couple more CRM game changers who you need to be looking at too:

    Prof Frank Piller at Aachen RWTH-TIM and MIT Smart Customisation is the leading thinker about customer-centricity. I recently had the pleasure to meet Frank at an IE Business School course on Building Customer Centric Organisations in Madrid. Frank shows how by providing customers with easy-to-use smart-customisation tools they can build exactly the right products, services, even experiences.

    Lean thinkers Womack & Jones wrote the book on Lean Thinking over 10 years ago. Their recent work on Lean Consumption applies lean thinking to the world of the customer, so that customers can ‘pull’ exactly what products they need, when they need them, how they need them, from companies. Their Lean Consumption ideas have been taken up by telcos, insurers, retailers and many other industries.

    I will continue to add more CRM game changers as I come across them. Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, most of them do not come from the CRM industry itself. Instead, they are mostly CRM outsiders who are thinking about CRM from a different perspective, without all the collected baggage that CRM carries with it.

    Who do you think are the leading thinkers about the next generation of CRM?

    Graham Hill
    Customer-driven Innovator
    Follow me on Twitter

    Interested in Customer Driven Innovation? Join the Customer Driven Innovation groups on LinkedIn or Facebook to learn more.

  2. My good friend and mentor Paul Greenberg suggested another couple of CRM Game Changer.

    The first is Prof V Kumar whose work on customer referral value has helped us to quantify the value of social networks in a financial way. His research turned up a number of interesting facts: That a customer’s referral value may be up to four times (4x) their lifetime value, that a customer’s lifetime value and their referral value are not related, that referred customers do not automatically buy and that those who do are not automatically profitable. That should make all those involved in social media stop and think.

    The second is Prof CK Prahalad whose work on customer co-creation has provided a robust foundation for companies to think about how, when and which customers to involve in co-creating value. This is a big part of the leading definition of customer-centricity. And if that was not enough, Prof Prahalad’s work on providing services to the customers at the bottom of the pyramid also provides a framework for looking at ‘sub-prime’ customers in a new way. It is the basis for how companies like Capital One make profit from customers every other credit card wouldn’t touch with a barge pole! It is also a basis for disruptive innovation that as John Hagel & John Seely Brown noted, may well blowback in our faces in the near future.

    Come on. I can’t be the only one thinking about the future of CRM. Who are your CRM Game Changers?

    Graham Hill
    Customer-driven Innovator
    Follow me on Twitter

    Interested in Customer Driven Innovation? Join the Customer Driven Innovation groups on LinkedIn or Facebook to learn more.

  3. Hi Graham:

    I read your blog citing the Next Generation of CRM Thinkers and Game Changers with great interest.

    For the purposes of furthering this discussion, humour me for a moment as I refer to first generation CRM pioneers, thinkers and game changers of the day.

    Martha Rogers and Don Peppers, the dynamic duo who coined the term “customer relationship management” and wrote the definitive book on CRM in 1993, were first generation CRM pioneers and game changers.

    Richard Forsyth, another CRM pioneer, consultant and founder of the CRM Forum – MyCustomer.com’s original incarnation, claims to have been present at the birth (or at least christening) of customer relationship management itself when a group coined a TLA (three letter acronym) at a McKinsey strategy meeting back in the early 90’s.

    I’m certain there are many others who helped forge this new way of business thinking anchored in the early tenants of customer-centricity.

    Since the the mid-90’s, we have witnessed the constant evolution of the CRM concept as a business philosophy, discipline, and strategy and it’s associated enabling technologies.

    What I would find interesting is truly knowing the rate of CRM adoption, in general, that companies have made or not over the past 15 years with the first generation of CRM. I think many CRM strategists and practitioners have a rough sense.

    From my Canadian perspective, many tier one organizations in this country have simply given CRM lip service and wrapped it in a thinly veiled shroud of customer centricity. Although I don’t have access to empirical facts, my perception is based on having been actively involved in CRM since its inception in the mid-90’s working for several tier one companies in CRM and related functions.

    Here’s some food for thought – how can we be certain that the ideas and concepts of next generation CRM thinkers and game changers will be considered let alone adopted and actively implemented by companies that resisted doing so with the first generation of CRM?

    I look forward to further discussion.


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