Remember those old wine commercials with Orson Welles intoning that "we will sell no wine before its time"?
The same cannot be said for enterprise software vendors.
Hard to blame them, really. Everybody has to make a living. And they usually find a perfect enabler in companies looking for a magic software fix to solve all their problems.
That may have been a big part of the problem with CRM, which promised to help companies glean customer insights and turn them into gold. Instead, CRM turned out a lot like James Dean -- sexy but difficult to work with, and ultimately ending up in a heap of twisted metal (or dashed expectations, in CRM's case).
Yet CRM's underlying premise was always solid. And now it may be making a comeback, say analysts including Gartner and AMR Research. Companies have learned some lessons and are starting to apply them. For instance, CRM is as much about analyzing and improving processes as it is about technology.
Vendor consolidation is doing its work, with the result that the strongest platforms will be left standing. Software-as-a-service is making CRM an option for even the smallest companies.
With a proliferation of customer channels that shows no signs of slowing, companies now need CRM more than ever. They are being inspired by the success stories -- and there are a growing number of them out there.
Looks like it finally may be time for CRM.