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SugarCRM CEO Larry Augustin kicked off this year’s SugarCon 2011 conference with a bold notion: The way people interact and what they know is changing - we are more instrumented, interconnected and intelligent than ever before, and the only promising response to these changes is a system and way of thinking built entirely anew.  

We Can’t Predict the Future

This conference season has seen a lot of acknowledgement of the pace technology is moving in. Once upon a time MySpace was king, and the idea of 140 character updates tossed out into the interwebs never seemed catchy enough to cause the raucous that Twitter has today. In other words, we can’t possibly predict where we’re going, but it’s clear that we’re going to get there really fast.

On the business end, companies haven’t previously had to consider what would happen if suddenly the customer was in control, but social media is putting them right in the driver’s seat. Business is no longer about what a company wants to do -- it’s about what a company and its customers can do together.

Attributes of a Social Business

During the keynote, Augustin named social media, analytics and cloud computing as the major disruptions of our time -- no surprise there. His tips to keep in mind while dealing with the changes:

  • Be engaged, transparent and nimble
  • Embrace networks of people if you want to create real business value
  • Simplify through extension of the enterprise -- nobody works alone anymore
  • Expand the perimeter to the cloud
  • Always start at the client level. Deepening those relationships will drive traditional business into social business.

Why Now? Why Forever?

The truth is we’ve always been social creatures, but lately the need to talk to each other seems much more pressing. CRM author Paul Greenberg explained the shift in interest using social network terms: People with similar likes and dislikes are able to find each other and communicate even when they don’t know each other, and the value of the Internet and mobile devices combined cannot be underestimated.

“This isn’t a business revolution, it’s the power of the individual,” he said. “It’s joint action of a mass scale that’s never been seen before, and has impact on every institution, not just business. Everyone has the ability to impact thousands of people every day. If you are conscious of it, you can change businesses, elections -- anything.”