Silvana Buljan has been involved as business consultant and subject matter expert in CRM projects since 1998, focusing on defining customer centric processes and policies and supporting their implementation in multi-national organizations. Her expertise lies mainly in CRM change management, organizational set-up and training/coaching for longterm CRM. She contributes in various expert panels as author (G-CEM, Customerthink, etc.). Silvana’s industry expertise is in Automotive, Air Transport, Financial Services and Retail. Her client portfolio counts with market-leading, blue chip companies in the mentioned sectors. She’s one of the EMEA judges’ panel for the CRM Idol international competition conceived by CRM and Social CRM expert Paul Greenberg.
Welcome to Silvana Buljan and thanks a lot for this interview. Now Round 1 of the CRM Idol contest is just finished and all semi-finalists (America and EMEA) have been chosen for the next step. This means the end of a preliminary phase of hard work for the judges who had participated to all demos, worked out their reviews and finally made their choice. First of all – my curiosity – how did you manage the countless CRMish/SocialCRMish main products’ features to articulate your judgment?
If you are involved in CRM since the early beginnings in the US and Europe (and each one of us has at least 15 years of experience in CRM), you develop some kind of “antennas” for product and service evaluation, you are naturally part of it. And this common understanding helped us manage an evaluation process that would be objective in terms of separating personal likeness from professional performance, and subjective in terms of evaluating the contestants´readiness for the CRM world.
Tell us about your experience with this amazing panel of experts and colleagues.
A great experience! Paul is the connector between all of us, and he´s got an amazing skill of match-making. Apart from being professionally prepared for this responsibility, we all also connect personally, discussions and opinion sharing were very natural and transparent.
I think it’d be really interesting to have your overview about this first phase of the contest. In your opinion, which are the European participants’ overall strentghs with regard to their corporate visions and products?
They started doing things from scratch considering the weaknesses or lacks in functionality in the market. AND they listened to potential customers: what do they actually need in terms of functionality, and how much are they ready to pay for? So they really started their business models the CRM way: driven by customer needs.
And what about their overall weakness?
Expansion planning is rather conservative than ambitious, they have great tools and great teams and could be part of the group of the big players in the market – but this requires investment and growth.
Which aspects have driven you to make the final choice?
For the semifinalist and finalist selection we considered the whole big picture of performance: the product, the way of presenting, the time invested in preparation, and the results of the personal interviews.
Working and talking with Paul Greenberg – fully involved in the worldwide project -, which are the main differences resulting from a comparison with american participants?
I cannot answer that as I was only involved in the EMEA contest
Geographically (and frankly) speaking, which are the more promising countries and which the ones that disappointed you?
It does not depend on the countries, especially in technological development we act more like “citizens of the world” – just look at the staff at Google or Apple: it´s a multi-cultural environment
Can you give some suggestions for the CRM and Social CRM vendors that will try to participate to the next year CRM Idol contest?
Not only the product is relevant, it is also the business model and roadmap planning that should be defined thoroughly. It´s great to have excellent ideas and be visionary, but you also have to have thought about the implementation of these ideas (how to?). And: you should be well prepared for the presentation and demo, and take advantage of your mentor´s experience and time to support you in preparation
Thanks again to Silvana for her kindness and time.