CRM as a concept has been around for a long time. And many firms have undertaken not just one, but several, CRM initiatives. As such, Gartner has looked at how CRM evolves and developed generational models that explain the changes in thinking and emphasis that we see. One of the obvious changes is the transition from viewing CRM as the installation of software, usually to solve a particular problem (e.g., too many hang ups in the call center, high abandonment rates on the website), to viewing it strategically as a way to transform the business to a more customer-focused enterprise. This is true for government entities as well as private, for-profit, and not-for-profit organizations.
This year's Gartner & 1to1 Media CRM Excellence Awards entries--which we'll reveal during the Gartner Customer 360 Summit opening keynote today--showed that transformation. Not that they have all arrived. Many would be the first to admit that they have a long way to go. But we clearly saw that the entries, both winners and general nominees, started much more from the point of view of "What problem are we trying to solve?" or "What is the customer expecting from us?" or "How will this line up with our corporate objectives?" Software was a piece, but only a piece. And it's exciting to see the market understanding that.