I’ve been working with enterprise software for over 25 years. I had the fortune in late 90s to work in the.com era with a bunch of really sharp guys who Launched a CRM Solution. The funny thing was it was such early CRM that it wasn’t even called CRM when I first started . We called it TCM, or total customer management which was integration of sales, service and marketing in a single customer database.
During that time there were software companies popping up all over the place, and plenty of funding available from VC Firms. It seemed like they were IPOs every week and some people made as much if not more money Day-trading tech stocks as they did selling software.
I remember converting a bedroom in my home to an office and being the one guy in the state of Ohio building a territory like it was my own franchise. It was amazing at how busy I was and how after one or two meetings,we were able to get contracts. It was nothing unique about me or the company I was with but more to the state of the economy at that time. There was also a change in technology away from the main frame as well as the impending year 2000 and the potential impact on computing. If anything, We had a lot of really smart people that could understand our customers business and share relevant stories of similar customers that we were able to help. The biggest challenge was awareness so it was all about evangelism. This was way before social media and 1:1 email marketing tools so it was email, fax blasts and a lot of phone calls. Once the meeting happened…magic.
So how does that compare to today. About three months ago I went to a less than two-year-old company to help build out the sales organization all around Microsoft cloud technology. The company has hired very senior resources and build a business with 3 Practice areas all around the Microsoft Cloud. The 3 Practice Areas include Modern Workplace, Azure Data and Governance and Custom App Dev/Dynamics. Similar to my experience in the.com era, This company, called Applied Cloud Systems aka ACS and has a lot of really smart people and a lot of great stories about how we have helped companies move to the cloud.
What seems crazy to me and what reminds me about the.com days is just how many companies are either migrating to the cloud or are asking for help now that they are in the cloud. It is not uncommon for me to have 5 to 6 meetings per week where I walk out of meetings and immediately start drafting a proposal or contract. I see so many similarities between what I am experiencing right now and what I experienced almost 20 years ago in terms of the level of anticipation for new technology, the desire to transform, and the limited resources available to do so. Just like in the days of the late 90s, where This company I worked for was seemingly able to scratch the itch, Microsoft cloud technology and ACS are seemingly having a similar impact for customers embarking on digital transformation. Much like the dot com days, I find myself evangelizing in an effort to let people know what we are all about. Guess what, with the really smart people that I get to take to meetings with me…we get into the room…magic. I say that somewhat tongue and cheek but we seem to have cracked the code and are delighting customers and creating real value which is leading to lasting partnerships. It feels very similar to those days in the 90s.
There are 2 other times in my career that I have had this much fun, the dot com days before the bubble and when I helped to launch Dynamics CRM to the Enterprise as an incubation business for Microsoft. This is quickly rising to the top for me.