This year CRM Evolution took place in Washington, a change of scenery from prior years where it’s been held in New York. It’s said that change is good and in this instance I agree.  The venue was more accommodating and spacious, providing presenters with an improved environment to share their expertise.

CRM Magazine is the official organizer and they deserve credit for putting together a great event. I, however, came to know of the conference through Paul Greenberg, President of The 56 Group, LLC and author of CRM at the Speed of Light: Social CRM Strategies, Tools, and Techniques for Engaging Your Customers. Paul is also a contributor at ZDNet and produces an annual CRM Watchlist, where NexJ has been listed on several occasions. I believe Paul has significant influence on the content of CRM Evolution.

The location was not the only change I noticed. Vendors were given more opportunity to present their solutions than in years past. I’m of the opinion that attendees who were in the process of evaluating how they were going to address their CRM related concerns must have found this a positive evolution as well.

A primary motivation in attending these events is always to learn about what is around the corner, the new and exciting innovations gaining momentum. This year did not disappoint from that perspective.

R “Ray” Wang, Principal Analyst at Constellation Research, was particularly effective in articulating the need to incorporate information derived from as many sources as possible, including IoT, to deliver superior customer experiences. IoT has been on the radar for some time but the advancements being made with respect to effecting change based on information gathered is exhilarating. Organizations that excel at collecting and analyzing data to arrive at optimal customer experiences will continue to gain advantage over those who do not prioritize it.

I was also impressed by what I saw in the area of digital assistance. Not just the artificial intelligence but what is now capable through voice instruction. Brent Leary, co-founder of CRM Essentials LLC., put forward several examples of how speech technology is being adopted in to CRM.  I can see a future, not too far off, where talking to your CRM systems will be the primary method of extracting information.

Those of you interested in keeping tabs on the CRM industry are well served to attend this annual event.