The 2nd Annual Customer Relationship Management Solutions Conference and Exposition, held May 1-3 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York featured some of the key CRM players, but not many others.
Aspect, Kana and PeopleSoft had the most representation of the approximately 20 vendors that were there. The featured event for Wednesday was the keynote address by NBC news anchor Tom Brokaw, who cancelled earlier that morning.
The Javits Center is a very big venue, allowing for several events to be conducted simultaneously. And while the CRM Solutions Conference graciously offered free admission to those attending an event being held upstairs (AIIM 2001 Exposition and Conference), the gesture wasn't reciprocated. A representative I spoke with from AIIM 2001 was completely unaware that the CRM Solutions Conference existed.
The event seemed devoid of trade show enthusiasm, even among many of the exhibitors. I was left wondering how some of these vendors expected to sell customer relationship solutions if they hadn't mastered the techniques themselves.
Texas Digital Systems, Inc. boasted a brightly colored display of various LED signage and readerboards that could be scaled and customized to reflect the needs of any size organization. Call centers, help desks and support teams could easily identify and disseminate the status of customer support across all channels. Their product line also includes messaging and alerts to customer service representatives via e-mail, Web pages, networked workstations, wireless pagers and video monitors.
SYMON Communications, Inc. featured their SYMON 2000 System - a process that allows for real-time critical news alerts and problem management in any customer support environment. Via the SYMON2000 server, a company can immediately access customer and sales information while also monitoring the CRM enterprise as a whole. An entire company can receive up-to-date information using some of SYMON's other products -- Deskview (desktop screen-pops), OmniView (large-screen monitor display), PanelView (multi-line panels), PageView (paging options) and NetBrite, network connected, full-matrix LED display boards.
Aspect Communications presented a host of tools for CRM including live chat via a wireless device, such as a Palm product or cellular phone. Customers would be able use a handheld wireless unit to connect with a sales rep that could answer questions and push information and Web pages. While this particular solution was still a couple of months from release, Aspect did have a number of other Web interaction products that utilized IP telephony, callback requests, shared browsing and joint form completion.
The exposition also had quite a few ongoing workshops, conference tracks and application theaters on various general and industry-specific topics. The financial services conference track featured seminars such as, "Supporting CRM through Globalization," "CRM in Action: Fleet Bank," "CRM on Steroids: The Internet Meets the Financial World" and "Customer-Driven Transformation in Financial Services" among others.
The telecommunications conference track received equal attention with "The Business Case for and Execution Challenges of CRM in Telecom," "Stealing Their Thunder: How Small Carriers are using CRM Strategies to Court Customers Away from the Bells," "CRM in Action: Verizon, VoiceStream and Qwest" and some other seminars of interest.
The application theaters were conducted by some of the exhibitors and were mainly to showcase their respective products and CRM solutions. Blue Pumpkin spoke about "Navigating Customer Contact Space: A Technology Guide;" E.piphany talked about "CRM in Action: Charles Schwab; Managing an Enterprise Solution;" as well as other presentations by Kana, Knowledge Impact, PeopleSoft and Serviceware.
The Aspect presentation, "Providing Consistent Customer Interaction Over All Mediums" provided insight to the solutions utilized by DaimlerChrysler's Chrysler Group to standardize cross-channel customer contact. The Aspect Portal allows agents to have consistent access to all customer data for optimum satisfaction and resolution.
The seminars, conferences and workshops added great value to the overall exposition, however the exhibition hall was sorely lacking in vendors and attendees. Perhaps the event was not well publicized, negatively impacting attendance.
If you'd like to check out the customer relationship strategies and applications being offered, the CRM Solutions Conference and Exposition has a few more stops to make this year: Amsterdam, June 20: Chicago, July 30; and Anaheim, Calif., Oct. 22.