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Matthew TharpChief EvangelistBpm'online
Marketers work tirelessly to track customers on their journey, and often implement new technologies for assistance. But technology doesn’t always streamline the process. In fact, too much technology—or too much of the wrong technology—can hinder their progress. Matthew Tharp, chief evangelist at customer relationship management (CRM) and business process management (BPM) platform Bpm’online, spoke with eMarketer’s Tricia Carr about the industry’s app proliferation problem and potential solutions.
eMarketer: Bpm’online’s latest software update included artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning integration. Obviously AI is in demand right now, but what specific cues have you gotten from the industry that prompted this move?
Matthew Tharp: The overall trend in the industry is how companies like ours can help organizations manage the ever-growing volume of data they’re creating and harnessing. But we’re also a process-focused company, so that means we’ve always been focused on automation. In our point of view, AI is the next evolution of a way for systems to be productive members of an organization.
For example, organizations adopt a lot of applications, but they end up creating more work. They get to the point of peak productivity, but the goal of technology should not just be to force more productivity but to actually be productive itself. AI is the next evolution of this.
eMarketer: How big of a problem is having excess marketing technology across the industry?
Tharp: Every day it feels like there are new applications for sales and marketing. Yet despite having untold amounts of technology at their disposal, every organization has complaints about the customer journey. It’s this seemingly unharnessable thing.
eMarketer: If an organization is in this position—they’ve impletmented a ton of applications but can’t seem to master the customer journey—is there a solution?
Tharp: All of this app proliferation is creating an opportunity and demand for a more complete core CRM experience, which will help not only potentially reduce the number of applications an organization needs to delight customers, but also reduce costs.
And ultimately, if the core CRM is more complete and robust, not only does it require less applications, but it means organizations can adopt more microservice applications because they don’t have to worry about data silence. These apps plug into a strong core CRM experience, and you don’t have to worry about where the data goes.
eMarketer: Are a lot of organizations having the realization that they have too many disparate applications, and they need a core CRM platform? Or are most still trying to work with what they’ve got?
Tharp: People aren’t banging on the door saying, “We need a more unified CRM experience.” They’re saying: “Didn’t I already solve this problem? Why am I still dealing with it?”
With digital transformation efforts, originally we thought it would be people on legacy systems that would go digital and move away from desktop-based contact repositories. But that’s not always the case. A lot of digital transformation efforts are starting to be about organizations recognizing the opportunity for a more innovative, cohesive core CRM.
It’s not a massive trend in the industry, because a trend requires a lot of people talking about it. A lot of people don’t think about it as a possible solution.
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