Predicting the future is a fool’s errand, even, or maybe especially, in CRM, yet we’re all over it like a cheap suit this time of year.

I was recently part of a series of panels on CRM Playaz, a streaming show from my friends Paul Greenberg and Brent Leary. The show consisted of a panel of CRM industry executives, another panel of analysts, and a third of customers. I was part of the middle panel. I don’t think we accomplished much, but that’s not the point. Sometimes it’s good just to see how others ponder complex issues.

One reason predictions are tricky is that January 2023 won’t look much different from December 2022, although December 2023 will certainly have some differences. Another reason is that, considering the first reason, we often simply extrapolate the present into the future. I saw this in operation on the Playaz as many people simply assumed that because all things related to data are important now, they will be later too. Maybe.

We tend to solve problems and move on; data is essential now, but will we have data sussed a year from now? Will something else take precedence? After all, trees don’t grow to the moon. Let’s call this the straight-line (more or less) theory of the future.

Pendulum Swinging in CRM
Another theory of the future might be called not quite circular. Think of a Slinky, a kid’s toy that never goes out of style. The Slinky coils but never comes back to the exact same place, like two Decembers that happen precisely 12 months apart; they’re very similar but different.

Circular repetition, some would say, is history repeating itself but a bit differently, back and forth. That was the theme offered by another friend, John Taschek, the market strategy chief at Salesforce. “There’s always been a kind of pendulum swinging in CRM,” he told me. One extreme is a focus on efficiency and customer retention, what Taschek called “CFO stuff,” and the other end focuses on growth. Let’s call that CEO Stuff.

With a recession possibly looming, the focus on CFO stuff might have the upper hand, and CRM is not the only place to see this.

Quick tangent — a recent article I read details the woes of the streaming industry, which has been growing like a weed for many years but began retrenching around mid-year. It looks like expenditures on new productions will be down almost 25 percent by this year’s end. The CFOs could be said to be ascendent in streaming, and next year won’t look much like this one.

Read more: CRM in 2023

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