Nick Hewson is a law graduate and spent the early part of his career working in commercial property. Switching to the IT industry in the mid 1980s he worked initially in the accounting software sector and formed close working relationships with the Big Five accounting firms of the time. A subsequent and chance opportunity to become sales director of a small software house developing relationship management software for financial services led to an early realisation about the future of customer management.
Nick is no stranger to the vagaries and frustrations of emerging markets. From about 1990 through to 1995 he (along with some forward thinking academics at Cranfield SOM) produced ground breaking research and publications about the future of customer management which had very significant influence on how the nascent CRM sector emerged. The interest levels were very high in an area that was self evidently important for the future of business and Nick spoke at conferences all over the world. However, investment and commitment to change were slow to materialise and it was the entry of big firms such as Accenture and the technology explosion around the start of the Internet that proved game changers.
It was often said during the emergence of CRM that Nick was a Founding Father of the industry but ironically Nick felt that CRM took a wrong turn quite early and has never been completely ‘right’ and the majority of implementations fall well short of delivering real business value . It is true that CRM has grown to be worth a staggering $18bn to the software industry but the tendency of projects to focus on sales management at the expense of thought through and in-depth customer engagement has led to very poor ROI overall.
The dot com boom involved Nick in many acquisitive and merger assignments on behalf of (mainly) American clients and the consolidation that followed the crash resulted in Hewson Group being closely involved with sorting out investment portfolios held by investment firms and banks. Nick developed a proven reputation for both accurately assessing investment opportunities and for restructuring ailing software companies on behalf of his clients.
A matter of some regret for Nick is that a Hewson company that he established to develop a CRM strategy tool was sold off too early and before it had time to develop its full potential. The ‘CRM Blueprint’ was designed to drive effective customer management planning (and to define the most relevant technology). A development client was Nationwide Building Society who later gave much credit it to the Blueprint for their award winning customer approach.
A sense of disillusionment with the direction of travel within the CRM sector led Nick to change direction around 2008 to concentrate on research around the Female Economy. This was based on another intuitive hunch that the world’s most powerful consumer was ill served and that dysfunction in both product design and in retail environments was far more entrenched than was commonly thought.