MetaCX: A Year in Review
Against the backdrop of health, social and economic disruption …
2020 is coming to a close with a pandemic still raging, and our hearts go out to all who have experienced loss and suffering. As I write this post, life-saving vaccines developed with revolutionary mRNA technology are being distributed across the U.S. and world, signaling the beginning of the end to this challenging time.
The optimist in me can’t help but feel the accelerated learning that came from the world’s focus to eradicate this virus and the new perspectives we all gained as we adapted our daily lives to accommodate its threat will make us far better in the end than if we hadn’t had this experience.
As disruptive as the pandemic has been to our team, we were all impacted more by the death of George Floyd and the inflection point over the summer where the business community collectively screamed ‘STOP’ to the social injustice impacting Black America, including our Black friends and colleagues. We are committed to adding our voice to the surging cry against bigotry and hatred.
… we launched a new company …
Into this uncertain environment we launched our company and a new outcomes-based approach for managing the entire customer lifecycle by transforming how suppliers and buyers collaborate and win together. I’m wrapping up my third decade in enterprise software and I’ve never seen the kind of positive feedback we received from the analyst community. Revolutionary, transformational, and stunning were common adjectives expressed in our briefings. In a ZDNet article, Paul Greenberg said, “I expected to be impressed [by MetaCX], and I was impressed way more than I expected.”
We have been working with a dozen or so early design partners and we went through our first renewal cycle with these customers right as we turned on our go-to-market engine with our launch. We held The Customer Room digital event, published original research on the adoption of sales methodologies, and launched the Revenue Revolutionaries podcast.
We rounded out our world class team with executives from Pendo, Facebook, and Drift, Jake Sorofman joined as our President, Jill Chiara as our CRO, Anand Tharanathan as CPO, Brett Crossley as VP of Engineering, and Max Hamel as VP of Product. Our team of 40 strong added critical capabilities to our product like buyer/supplier shared spaces called BRIDGES, collaboration, shared metrics, and full customer lifecycle support. We also launched Co.Lab, a joint offering with the management consulting firm Valuize to help B2B SaaS companies define a strategy and build a working prototype of their future-state customer experience.
… into a new product category.
Three decades in enterprise software has given me a front-row seat to watch companies respond to the lifetime value of a customer in a SaaS model. The arrival of the customer success role is an impressive response to the importance of renewals in a subscription-based business, and the collection of customer success tools that have evolved around this role have made a contribution to enterprise software.
But I don’t believe this will be a lasting category of software.
It’s time to think beyond the customer success role—to the customer success goal. That must include the entire company. Software tools cannot create more boundaries, silos, and friction. We have to start unifying. We need to bring our customers closer to our operations, and how can that happen with each functional area using their own tool?
It’s also time to rethink the very nature of CRM. The irony that CRM doesn’t directly impact the relationship between a supplier and buyer needs to change. We need our customers to be part of a shared CRM. We need a new steel thread—outcomes—to be the foundation of a customer relationship from deal management to coordinated handoffs, all the way through to a more quantitative proof of performance.
And it’s time for enterprise software architecture writ large to evolve and improve. The next generation of enterprise software is going to be collaborative and will be optimized to support the network connectivity of an ecosystem, not individual companies. Starting with supplier/buyer pairs, it will directly manage the buying/selling process that brings companies together in a relationship. Defining and measuring the delivery of value will be the foundation that supports the relationship through the entire buying and renewal lifecycle. All parties involved in any stakeholder context will be equal parts of the ecosystem, working in a system each sees as their own but is connected to others in the network.
This is our vision, and we have built a platform and product to support it. At launch we called it Customer Lifecycle Management, but we believe a new category with a new name will evolve around these ideas. We believe incremental changes over the last decade were leading us to this place, but the shock caused by the pandemic, with the resulting step function of digital adoption, will be a moment of rapid advancement — like a punctuated equilibrium in evolutionary biology — that leads to a wave of new thinking and new products that advance digital transformation in B2B.
As Clayton Christensen so eloquently said, “Breakthrough innovations come when the tension is greatest and the resources are most limited. That’s when people are actually a lot more open to rethinking the fundamental way they do business.”
We are at such a time.