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Gartner Says Enterprises Must Anticipate How Societal Trends Will Impact Their Business and Customers


Societal Trends and the Impact on CRM to Be Discussed at Gartner CRM Summit in Washington D.C., September 8-10, 2008.

STAMFORD, Conn. — As IT-based devices and technologies become more personal in scope and application, social issues will become increasingly important to product success, according to Gartner, Inc. In order to identify and react to major societal shifts and trends, Gartner predicts that by the end of 2010, 15 percent of U.S. and European businesses will have formalized societal trend watching as a corporate discipline.

“A connected enterprise must understand the connected society in which it resides,” said Scott Nelson, managing vice president at Gartner. “Most firms wait until societal trends have overwhelmed them before they try to react. Slowness to respond can cost firms incredibly large sums of money and may drive them out of business all together.”

“Businesses will require anthropological and psychological input into system development to ensure that entire systems consisting of technology and people are viable and to help evaluate how changes in employees’ and customers’ lifestyles will affect business,” Mr. Nelson said.

Adding technology to the natural human desire to communicate enables individuals to participate in more, richer, faster and denser social networks. Some are enabled by basic Internet infrastructure, such as e-mail and instant messaging, while others by more specialist tools or sites, such as FriendFeed, Twitter, Ryze or Orkut. Such networks form an increasing proportion of the trusted information sources that individuals use to make decisions.

“In activities such as marketing it is valuable to find and spend effort on several key influencers that are trusted information sources used by other network participants. Enterprises should work the network and find out where their customers and potential employees are making decisions,” said Mr. Nelson. “As many of these networks are implemented using well-understood technical standards, they can be probed and analyzed, opening up opportunities for a new generation of social network analysis and simulation tools.”

The danger that many organizations run into is trying to determine which trends to watch. Gartner recommends giving responsibility to a group to watch societal trends and to focus on the following points to maximize short-term and strategic decisions while positioning the business for the future.

*Social factors will become increasingly important in business and commercial systems. Adopt a human-centric design perspective. Watch these factors on an ongoing basis.
* Appoint staff to review systems and working practices to identify legal, ethical and social risks.
* Conduct an opportunity/threat analysis to identify product and service opportunities enabled by the connected society.
* Understand and exploit network effects in products and services.
* Explore the opportunities to use network effects and the connected society to solve business and government problems in new ways.
* Privacy is a way of life and a business strategy decision, not a technical issue. Appoint a privacy officer.

Additional analysis on strategies for successful CRM will be discussed at the Gartner CRM Summit, September 8-10 at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in Washington, D.C. The Gartner CRM Summit is a comprehensive event offering the latest customer strategies and technologies, how those technologies affect your customer relationship initiatives, and what organizational and cultural changes must occur to meet your company’s goals. Additional information is available at Members of the media can register by sending an e-mail to Christy Pettey at


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