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Notes from Gartner's Customer 360 Summit: Next Year Has Arrived

Lithium Alumni (Retired)


Phil Soffer is Vice President of Product Marketing at Lithium Technologies. He has held a number of positions at the company influencing the direction of the platform, most recently running Product Management.


He is active on Twitter as @phsoffer and is a regular contributor in the Lithosphere where he is PhilS. 8WZ39PE8TDKD


This week I spent a few days down in Los Angeles at Gartner's Customer 360 Summit, and here are some personal impressions.

Lithium was there in force, with our new CMO Katy Keim leading the charge, along with Dan Ziman, Erin Korogodsky, and Alyce Lindquist. More importantly, our customers were there in force -- whether they knew it or not. Virtually every session I attended featured stories about things Lithium customers are doing in Social CRM, from Giff Gaff to Caterpillar to Best Buy.

Let me get the obligatory chest thumping out of the way. In his Tuesday session, Gartner's Adam Sarner unveiled this year's Social CRM rankings and, as Paul Greenberg reports, Lithium did really well.

Based on my in-person impressions, that's actually an even bigger deal than I had thought. Here's why:

  • Gartner has given its blessing and legitimacy to Social CRM in a big way. In his lively keynote address, Gartner analyst Ed Thompson predicted that social CRM will be a $1 billion market in 2011. $1 billion is a magic number in enterprise technology. Once a market hits $1 billion, you can't argue that it's a fad, or no longer a legitimate market.


  • Social CRM dominated the conference buzz. Lithium's booth looked like one of phone booth cramming stunts from the 1950s, and a lot of the prospective customers were asking interesting, informed questions. As someone who has worked in the social customer business for almost five years and is accustomed to thinking of that market as a scrappy underdog, I understand a little bit how the "wait til next year" Brooklyn Dodgers must have felt after they won the 1955 World Series -- "next year" has arrived for Social CRM.

  • Lithium's customers are the true leaders. If you wanted to hear from a real practitioner of Social CRM at this conference, there was no better session that Gina Debogovich's.  In her low-key way, Gina was on fire about what SCRM means to Best Buy's brand and its employees. Although she didn't present, Verizon's Becky Carroll was also on hand to dispense her brand of social customer common sense. Indeed, if there's one message we heard consistently from the analysts we talked to, it was this: in a market that contains its share of breathless hype, our customers are walking the walk, and backing it up with numbers.

That definitely helped make this conference more fun than the usual run of conferences. Some other fun moments:

Dinners. One night we went out with Paul Greenberg and got to hear about his adventures in politics and how they led him to CRM. Let's just say some street brawls were involved, which I will try to keep in mind next time our CEO Lyle Fong gets on my case. If you get a chance to go to dinner with Paul, do it. The next night we went out with Becky Carroll, who in addition to working for Verizon and blogging about social customers also teaches what must be the funnest class at UCSD. Note to Verizon: Becky paid her own way for that dinner!

Stalking. We finally got to meet Gartner's Michael Maoz, who was very much in demand at the conference. We did this by hiding in the lobby and jumping out from behind a pillar when he arrived at 11:45 PM the night before the conference started. Katy signaled her interest in meeting Michael by coyly spilling a glass of red wine in his direction but not actually hitting him -- a clever move. He turns out to be a really interesting guy. Anyone who can make jokes in English, German, and Hebrew within two minutes and is a fellow admirer of Michael Chabon is okay in my book, even if he didn't know off the top of his head that Richard Hofstadter taught at Columbia. (He could not have known that Hofstadter is sort of my intellectual grandfather).

* New Stuff. This was my first time in the field demonstrating the Scout Labs product, and it creates a lot of fun moments. I had one guy come by the booth and I did a search on one of his competitors. Thanks to our real-time quote extraction, I got to show him with two clicks that only moments before, a disgruntled customer had posted that his competitor, "Sucks A$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$." You can't buy that kind of goodness. Actually, you can -- and happily, Lithium did.




For all that, though, it's good to be home and back in the office. This is a lot to live up to, and we need to stay on it.

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‎07-01-2010 06:44 PM
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