The history of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems holds valuable lessons. The first wave of CRM systems got a boost with success stories in an HBR Article ("Automation to Boost Sales and Marketing") in 1989 by Moriarty and Swartz. Billions of dollars and millions of hours were spent to build and operate these systems. But as early as 1990, the Conference Board cautioned that half the companies that had purchased such systems regretted going down the path they did. In the second wave, led by Siebel Systems, tens of billions of dollars were spent. Many surveys around the year 2000 reported that 50% to 70% of these implementations failed. Now in its third wave, recent CRM efforts are more successful, having matured with the lessons of the early failures and the emergence of industry-tailored solutions that are quicker to deploy and lighter to sustain. But it's been a long time coming.
So how then should you think about big data for your sales organization? Here are three recommendations: