#CRMEvolution 2017: AI, Customer Engagement, Speed Sprinkled with some ABM pixie dust

I always look forward to being part of CRMEvolution. You just can’t help but come back from it with a bigger brain, new connections, friendships and great memories.

The biggest takeaway from the show this year for me is that despite all the advances in marketing, sales and speech technology, it still comes down to focusing on the customer, the value exchange between the company and the customer, and the customer-centric culture you build within your organization. You may think this is old news, but it never hurts when we are reminded that the digital customer is not like any customer – we are omichannel creatures:

Source: Paul Greenburg

Servicing the omnichannel customers is not easy – and is very elusive for most brands:

Chris Bucholtz‏ @Bucholtz  Apr 24

More $1.6 billion worth of switching by customers in U.S. alone because of poor #customerservice this year, says @gerrymcgovern #CRMevolution

The answer to customer engagement is complex but if Gerry McGovern has his way, all business would do two things really well:

  1. Every successful business aims to take less time from their customers @gerrymcgovern #CRMevolution
  2. Digital response time of 3 secs or more agitate the customer – real time needs to be immediate @gerrymcgovern #CRMevolution

Speed and Artificial Intelligence permeated pretty much every talk and almost every hallway conversation (thanks not to a small extend to Thomas Wieberneit who kept asking the big brains the tough question, namely  How is AI different form software automation) My three favorite AI sessions not in order of preference:

Esteban Kolsky’s Analytics, Artificial Intelligence, & the New Reality for Automated Interactions: Not only do I appreciate Esteban’s somewhat snarky sense of humor, I also love his way of making these big, hairy concepts accessible. His take on AI vs Machine Learning and the evolution of both:

And then this one – all the components of the digital transformation infrastructure stack companies need to get the most out of their digital initiatives.

Then this one: AI’s Role in Shaping Modern Customer Engagement: Experts Weigh In

The experts: the one and only  Brent Leary, Partner – CRM Essentials, Volker Hildebrand, Global Vice President, Customer Engagement Solutions – SAP Hybris, Dr Michael Wu, Chief Scientist – Lithium Technologies, Marco Casalaina, VP Products – Salesforce Einstein, Kishan Chetan, Principal PM Manager, CRM, Dynamics 365 – Microsoft, and Rajan Krishnan, Group Vice President, Applications Product Development – Oracle

(Special reward if you can guess who the Einstein is in this picture)

Notable absence – IBM Watson. Despite all the beating Watson got (mostly offstage), everyone agrees that we are too early in the AI game but now we have the data, the computing power and the tech to see some real progress. The best description for Watson is today and its potential came from Ian Jacobs of Forrester shared at an amazing dinner with new friends – , “Watson is like LeBron James when he was 6 – he was better than most of his peers at that age, but he was only 6. Wait and see what happens during his teenage years.”

Last but definitely not least – Charlie Isaac’s session. Cannot tell you how much I admire his brain, enthusiasm and creativity. He held a solution session but it was much more than a solution – he showed he coolest demo of how #IoT is going to change customer service and then some. He showed how sensors on products will help customer service diagnose and verify when issues get resolved. The data viz was really easy on the eyes as you can see below (he did no sync the submarine in our session, and even if he did, he would have done it with charming grace for sure)

I would be remiss if I did not mention my friend’s Thomas Wieberneit, session on customer engagement. For some, obvious reasons:

Then, for the practical examples he shared with us – which spanned the globe, and what they shared in common:

And his three critical takeaways – there is no experience without engagement; always start from a strong core as your platform and involve stakeholders and use data to decide; and lastly think big and act small to stay nimble while supporting strategic objectives.

My session on Account-Based Marketing and how to start your pilot right. The goal was to give folks practical tips and remove as much of the ABM FUD out there so marketing and sales leaders can finally come together to engage and involve the entire buying committee. You be the judge on whether I succeeded or not – https://www.slideshare.net/LoraKratchounova/how-to-launch-a-successful-abm-pilot-crmevolution

(Another tip: If you want to get access to the session decks, just visit this CRMEvolution page: http://www.destinationcrm.com/Conferences/2017/Presentations.aspx. Most decks are there)

Ending the show for me was Tuesday night but I could not have asked for a better ending. I made new amazing friends – the fab Canadians Danko and Wayne of Grapevine6 (super-sleek sales support tool that helps sales people find the most relevant articles they can share with their prospects with one click of a button), Matthew Bogart of NexJ (the CRM for financial services companies), Phil Lurie of SAP (with the most amazing life story – hint: he was a fighter jet pilot during the Vietnam War), Chris Bucholtz ( very much a celebrity in the tech content circles, who now not only manages CRM Byer, but the content for CallidusCloud, and Ian Jacobs of Forrester. The group consensus on the best city to live in (outside of the one you live in today) – Budapest, although St Petersburg and Amsterdam were also mentioned.

Thank you, Paul Greenberg and DestinationCRM, for another great show! Now I have the bmp’online Global Tour to look forward for!


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