Tomorrow I will be presenting on "Standards and Interoperability for CRM" at the CRM Evolution Conference in Washington, DC.  Standards are important for many technologies, but in business software standards are often sacrificed as companies compete with one another for a share of the market.

Customer relationship management (CRM) has not been known as a field which fosters cooperation among competitors such as Oracle, Salesforce, Microsoft, and others. But at the same time, standards can benefit organizations that rely on CRM for engaging with customers.  Privacy regulations such as the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compel compel companies to treat customer data with greater care than ever before, and privacy breaches have become routine and costly.

Acceptance of CRM standards for data make it easier to share data among applications and build data warehouses or data lakes which bring together many sources of data into one pool for discerning new patterns and relationships.

Last September, Adobe, Microsoft and SAP announced the Open Data Initiative (ODI) which called for an industry consortium to adopt shared standards and facilitate data exchange among their products.  Other companies joined the effort, and a Partner Advisory Council was formed to contribute to the ODI effort.

Each of the lead partners of ODI is prominent in one sector of the CRM/ERP world.  Adobe is prominent in marketing automation software, especially for wbesite engagement with consumers. Microsoft Dynamics 365 has gained significant market share for CRM in recent years.  SAP remains a global leader in ERP for large companies and the manufacturing sector.

The proliferation of standards will remove some technical barriers to data integration, and reduce the cost of enterprise data efforts.  It will also create opportunities to share data schemas for vertical markets which can be used to create new apps in the future.

Companies that do not join the ODI may create standards initiatives of their own which compete with ODI.  We are still in the early stages of CRM standards, but they are showing promise and moving quickly to become practical for CRM users.