This year we traded in terminologies going from big data and analytics to digital disruption as the market-moving meme. It seems to me we focus on the symptoms and not the root causes too often in this business.
That's why we still see new products guaranteed to accelerate the sales cycle or lift customer loyalty to new heights. In sales we long ago reached a ceiling, a place where further acceleration may no longer be possible because we've done everything we can to accelerate the vendor side of the equation.
In the last year, though, we saw multiple vendors begin delivering not analytics per se but intelligence -- the ability to rank options in real time and learn from past events to provide vendors with next best ideas for what information to provide or which products to suggest. The result has been relevance as in reducing the customer's thinking time because a suggestion makes reasonable sense, and you know what? So I'm giving the whole industry my coveted Awesome 'Possum award for delivering an innovation that offers the possibility of actually accelerating business activity for the first time since some genius decided to put a telephone on each sales rep's desk, or when reps were reimbursed for mileage, or maybe it was when we all got PCs and networks, or, no, wait I have it, since a bunch of geniuses invented CRM. You could spend a lot of time and effort next year reading about digital disruption and attending lectures on the subject, and I am fearful that you'll end up buying some great tools for unspecified reasons. Anyhow, digital technology has crossed a Rubicon of sorts as best described in Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee's The Second Machine Age. The year now ending was good for introducing a raft of products with intelligence, and it certainly whet our appetites for more. So, if all you do next year is purchase anything that has the word intelligence in its name, you might find yourself with that one-way ticket to Palookaville after all. This free buyer's guide compares the best CRM software systems and allows you to request a price or demo for the system that best fits your needs. In reality, both are very important and they are laudable goals, but our symptomatic approaches ensure very little changes because we don't examine and change the basics.
On the customer side, they still make deliberate decisions that require thought and application of energy.
Yes, that's it, I think intelligence is that important and it really got cooking this year. You can't do intelligence-based business without it, and that's where the root-causes thing comes in.
We buy tools for the results they'll enable, but often we forget that the tool and the result are different and that we need some schooling in the problem and its solution before we make ROI on the tools. We've been in a digital revolution since World War II when Alan Turing and company broke the German naval code. We now have so much processing power at our command that machines are beginning to do truly amazing things like mimicking real intelligence.
It's more important than it ever was to think clearly about that next purchase because the pace of innovation is what's really accelerating, and with that acceleration comes greater risk of making a mistake. If you don't buy this new framis or widget you'll fall behind the competition and then we know what happens -- you buy a one-way ticket to Palookaville (and you could have been somebody).

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