CRM Idol Competition Kicks off Second Year to Help Start-ups Get Noticed
Occasionally, things created for the tech market go mega-public; the cloud is perhaps the best example; while most consumers use cloud technology without realizing it, providers have developed an entire hype machine around the industry, giving it almost celebrity status. Now the same treatment is being given to customer relationship management (CRM) software, with the latest installment of CRM Idol, now sponsored by The 56 Group and aimed at giving start-ups in the industry a chance to strut their stuff.
And the Winner Is...
According to an article at CRM Buyer, the second season of CRM Idol is taking submissions from small businesses until the evening of May 25, 2012. Those submitting have to meet several guidelines: They must be small, have at least a handful of customers, and be ready with a release (not beta) version of their product. Once accepted, contestants get a mentor to help them prepare. If they win, prizes include meetings with venture capitalists, consulting time with thought leaders, and free software worth thousands of dollars.
CRM Idol guru and owner of The 56 Group Paul Greenberg summed up the purpose of his competition, saying, "There's a lot of small, really good CRM companies out there who have really bad PR people who assaulted the intellects of the analysts, as opposed to getting to know them, and consequently these companies get shafted." Just like American Idol, the CRM competition hopes to circumvent standard market forces and instead award prizes based on merit--and votes. Just as is the case with its musical namesake, part of the competition will be decided by the audience, because as the CRM Idol website points out, "crowdsourcing is important."
But while the competition is generating hype (enough to run a second season) is CRM really that much of a priority for midsize businesses?
All They Survey
According to Enterprise Apps Today, which recently examined research firm Gartner's latest survey, CRM software has clawed its way 10 rungs up the IT priority ladder in just a year. In 2011, CRM came in at 18th among CIO concerns, but in 2012, it jumped up to 8th. CEOs are also interested in the technology and have listed CRM as their key area of investment. With a forecast of over $12 billion in revenue this year, it's no wonder small and midsize businesses are jumping onto the CRM train. It's also expected that customer relationship management software will edge closer to social media, something that bodes well for start-up companies like those applying to be on CRM Idol.
For IT admins at midsize business, this kind of competition is a good thing. All too often, technology niches become dominated by big players and out-of-the-box solutions; individualized content can be hard to come by. Start-ups are more inclined to not only push the envelope but cater to small and midsize business' demands, as it's partnership with these kinds of businesses that often help start-up providers get their footing in the sector.
The market for CRM is evolving rapidly as midsize businesses begin to see exactly what it can do for their bottom line. This in turn creates the perfect space for a competition like Idol--though hopefully without inter-judge drama, a smarmy host, and overblown antics. Or maybe that's all part of the fun.
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.