AT LARGE: Word play

AT LARGE: Word play

The last column each year is, traditionally, a little bit like the last day of school — not a lot of work gets done. Instead we do fun things, like playing word games.

Gartner seems to have a similar idea about the end of the year — don’t do any work, just play word games. I got an e-mail from Gartner a week or so ago on the subject of “Is CRM Dying?” The e-mail said, in part: “The answer to the question of whether customer relationship management (CRM) lives or dies lies within the acronym itself. When one analyses those three basic words — “customer”, “relationship” and “management” — the conclusion is that CRM will not only survive the next decade, but has in fact been with us for hundreds of years.”

According to Gartner, the fact that the triumvirate of concepts — customers, relationships and management — is so fundamental to the nature of business means that customer relationship management, as an application category, is here to stay.

Let’s try an exercise.

Consider for a moment the word “pizza”. Food is, of course, fundamental to our survival, not only as individuals but as a species. As a foodstuff, you don’t get much better than pizza. Even when pizza is not remarkably good, it’s still pretty good.

Now consider the word “sock”. It’s a fairly amazing word, acting as it does both as a verb and as a noun. You can, if you are a violent person, sock someone on the nose if they annoy you. You can also wear socks on your feet to prevent irritation from the insides of your shoes. If you see someone wearing shoes without socks, you immediately make a value judgement about that person. Likewise if you see someone wearing sandals with socks. Or long socks and short pants. Basically, for reasons we may not fully comprehend, socks are a window into our souls.

Finally, consider “smelly”. Think about how important your olfactory sense is to you. Scents are reputedly the strongest triggers to memory — a vague aroma on a summer day can remind you of a thousand childhood moments at once. A trained nose can discern esoteric details about the time and place of manufacture of wines, cheeses and other fine foods. Even an untrained nose is your first and most important line of defence against food that will do you harm — old prawns and whatnot. There are probably species on this planet for whom the sense of smell is unimportant — those species will never challenge humans for dominance.

Anybody want a smelly sock pizza?

Have a good break and a happy new year.

Matthew JC. Powell understands the fundamentals. Contact him on

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