It's a bit ironic that Oracle's Larry Ellison signaled his intent to spend almost $6 billion on Siebel the very same day that eBay, in buying Skype for $2.6 billion, provided the latest evidence that CRM, along with lots of other "old IT" constructs, including telecom, is fast becoming irrelevant.EBay and Google are flat-out phenomenal in that they have almost overnight forever changed consumer behavior in ways that don't match up with what traditional CRM systems are designed to deliver.
In the hands of, say, a big travel conglomerate, traditional CRM basically goes like this: "OK, we see that we've just sold Paul McDougall a trip to Las Vegas, and our marketing database tells us that he recently bought a new set of Pings. Hmmm, what should we do next? That's it! Let's try to sell him on one of our golf-resort time-shares in Nevada! Not only will we get more of his paycheck, he'll develop a warm fuzzy feeling about MegaResorts International. We'll have achieved BRAND LOYALTY!"
Forget it, guys, I don't shop that way anymore, nor does hardly anyone I know. And for that you can thank, very specifically, eBay and Google. You can fill my mail box with as much dead tree-based marketing material as you like, or send me gigs of E-mail, but I'm not going anywhere or buying anything until I've hit Google and eBay.
First I search Google to research a place or product, then I Froogle it to see the best going rate from retailers, then I cruise eBay to see if I can get it even cheaper. Usually I can. This goes for travel, electronics, sports equipment, whatever I need. Brand loyalty means nothing to me--I want the best product at the best price so I'll mix and match every time. And consumers that are somewhat younger than myself have never done it any other way--heck, they're doing it all from their mobiles.
Of course, smart marketers have already realized this. Given the choice between spending $100,000 on CRM software or on Google search optimization, more are choosing the latter. They know that driving sales is now about showing up there or on eBay (Accenture has a whole practice dedicated to helping enterprises sell excess inventory in Meg's Mall).
That brings us to Skype. With Google and eBay adding more and more features, "old IT" will become even less relevant. Sure, eBay right now is talking about simply providing a voice connection between bidders and sellers. Memo to AT&T: If you believe that, fire your chief strategist right now! The sky's the limit in terms of the services eBay is now in a position to provide.
Here's a little thing marketers might be interested in--so much for worrying about that pesky Do Not Call list, we're going to Skype our potential customers. And we already know what they like to buy because we looked at their transaction histories on, yup, eBay. Now that's CRM! And then there's Google. Ah, Google--I can't wait to see what you'll do next.
Sorry, Larry, were we supposed to be talking about you today?