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Enabling Social CRM is a convergence of Enterprise 2.0 and CRM

Before my peers from the Accidental Community slap me silly because of the technology focus of this post, I completely get that any Enterprise initiative, especially CRM, is People, Process, then technology. The focal point here is that the people and process do need a supporting infrastructure in order to truly provide Social CRM. For the purposes herein, Social CRM will use the Paul Greenberg definition:

CRM is a philosophy & a business strategy, supported by a technology platform, business rules, workflow, processes & social characteristics, designed to engage the customer in a collaborative conversation in order to provide mutually beneficial value in a trusted & transparent business environment. It’s the company’s response to the customer’s ownership of the conversation.

A friend and collaborator Prem Kumar Aparanji (@prem_k) has put together a initial take (with good explanation), from an architectural footing, and my objective is to take that one step further. Even as I write, Esteban Kolsky, someone whom I have the utmost respect, has written the history of the world (CRM world), which is an important read. What is important to note, is that as time passes, we are all diving in a little deeper. It is too easy to “wax poetic” at the 50,000 foot level, but we need to help figure out exactly how to do the things we are talking about. Prem even did a little crystal gazing and wrote the prequel to this post Enterprise 2.0 v SocialCRM – Fight or Tango (thanks Prem) – the answer is… down a few paragraphs….

The core of my suggestion:

There is no reason to reinvent the wheel and as technology advances we (business leaders in the CRM arena) should absolutely take advantage of it. There is also no reason, therefore, to ignore the great work being done in the Enterprise 2.0 arena. I am a huge fan of Dion Hinchcliffe – not just one of his posts, a great many of them (cool graphics too). Especially interesting to me are a few recent posts: the August 18, 2009 (Using social software to reinvent the customer relationship)

The elimination of decades of inadequate communication channels will suddenly unleash a tide of many opportunities, as well as challenges, for most organizations.

and September 2, 2009 (Enterprise 2.0 Finding success on the frontiers of social business).

….there is something fundamentally unique and powerful about social computing. Though not all uses of social tools result in rapid adoption or instant results, those that establish an early network effect can and do push existing IT systems

Finally, Dion also spoke of a crucial component of making it all work, citing him one last time (today) the Data obviously a crucial element;  August 5, 2009 (The future of enterprise data in a radically open and Web-based world)

Exposing data — whether it is internally within an organization or outside to partners, or even the whole world — is a way of thinking about the very nature of the business, more than it is about achieving a one-off end goal. This is because open data seems to create immediate, close, and powerful relationships between the publisher and the consumer of the data, and leads to a series of unexpected outcomes.

(I thought about posting his great artwork here, but that would not be proper and would not do the articles justice, so take a look when you have a few minutes.)

Here is my line of thinking – Enterprise 2.0, by definition is “the use of emergent social software platforms within companies, or between companies and their partners or customers.Andrew McAfee,  May 2006 and given the definition of Social CRM above, should it be such a leap to suggest that in order to truly engage the customer, we should invite them into our Enterprise? What better tool set to do this than Enterprise 2.0 tools?

There are lots of very smart people who can solve the technical challenges which will certainly arise – security, access control – just two of I am sure a dozen more. The larger challenges will certainly be on the people and process side – you know, that 80% of the real effort. If we are truly going to be ‘Transparent‘, and foster ‘Trust‘, in addition to one of my friend Graham’s favorite topics  Co-Create then we need to treat the customers and partners like family, and invite them into our home.

Graham’s article is certainly worth reading in its entirety, here is one of the key points:

Use just enough collaborative social technologies – Technologies, particularly those that support ‘social networks’, provide the backbone for collaboration between a companies and increasingly, with customers. This doesn’t mean a technology-first approach. But it does mean selecting the right technologies (and only the right ones) to enable effortless collaboration. (0ne of 11 bulleted points which are part of the article, seemed fitting for inclusion here)

In order to accomplish these goals, we really need to think of the customer as an extension of the Enterprise

As we invite the customers into the Enterprise, into our home, it is no longer an ‘us’ and ‘them’ – Customers are no longer managed, rather data is managed, analyzed to and for the benefit of the customer, the company and greater good – Customers are embraced.

It is not about technology, but about the best use of technology. It is not about the platform, but about the people who are the platform (how web 2.0 of me). It is not about one vendor either (I work for a vendor, full disclosure), it is about a solution that can provide the ROI and validation that Enterprise 2.0 is looking for – let’s call it Social CRM.

I do like how Esteban ends his blogs - “OK, I am done now.  Let’s open the floodgates of criticism and praise.”

http://twitter.com/mjayliebs

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Esteban Kolsky September 9, 2009, 1:24 PM

    Mitch,

    First, thanks for the link to my post – and the kind words.

    Second, this is a long overdue post from our community, something we needed to start the conversation. I like the way you have done this, showing your thought process. From my side, I don’t think this is a technology post as you fear initially, but a very necessary question. It is in my list of items to tackle in my own research and evolution.

    I have to admit that you got the concept totally right – SCRM and E20 should work as one. That was the concept of my post (working title is “don’t be narrow minded about SCRM – think S-Biz).

    I think that there is one element that we are all missing in this discussion – one which you actually touched on (as have many people) but we are still not getting right. The customer.

    We are talking about embracing the customer, have them engage and become part of the grid, to bring them into the enterprise. We also talk about ending the management of the customer, creating communities, and engaging those communities in the business.

    But we are talking about doing all that with the current model of customers we have. And the biggest shift we are seeing is not on technology, people (enterprise), or process – it is in the society and the customer. The customer model we used for the past 2,000 years or so is no longer the norm. I was derided by some when I talked about how Gen-Y has no loyalty, different purchasing habits, and different behaviors — but it is the largest part of this change. We can setup any technology (easy, really) to support any processes we want, and train our people to do things in many different ways. But in doing all that we are not really looking at the source of all this change — the customer. Without the proper focus, we are just rearranging chairs in the Titanic (OK, mark that one off the list of things to say in a post or comment).

    Why am I going on a tangent (seemingly)? Because the solution you propose above also hinges on what the customer will look like in the near and long term future. I think that we are going to change the way we are building out systems from a enterprise-centric model (as we have today – even if we embrace the customer) to a platform-to-engage model where the systems and data will be not only open and accessible, but the processes themselves will be dynamic, personalized, and ever-changing.

    To build those systems in the next 10 years or so (yes, that little time) we need to embrace as a community (technologists, software vendors, enterprise citizens) the model you describe. Not because it makes perfect technology (or process, or people sense) but because it is the model that we are going to need to survive. So, SCRM or S-Biz or whatever will be called will be no more than a set of rules within a social platform that the organization will leverage to interact with customers, partners, government – basically everyone.

    So, to digress, nice job on the post and a good way to start the conversation. I think it it going to be a long conversation…

    • mjayliebs September 9, 2009, 8:50 PM

      Esteban,

      Thanks for the comments.

      The most quotable is clearly the reference to the chairs on the Titanic. I would like to think that is not quite that bad, but the point is taken. It goes without saying (another thing to say in a post, always followed by stating what does not need to be said) that the needs of ‘the’ customer are far from static. Looking at it from the technical perspective, technology has been a major shift. It is just that shift that is driving some of the customer behavior – maybe even back to the Loyalty conversation, or lack thereof. The customer model may or may not be different (we can discuss that as well), but as Brent said in his talk “Vast and Fast” everything happens with incredible velocity, not the least of which is change itself.

      Like you said, I am sure we will be discussing this for a while.

      Mitch

  • Kathy Herrmann September 9, 2009, 3:19 PM

    Mitch,

    Thanks to stimulating the customer discussion with your article. Here is the money quote for me:

    “Customers are no longer managed, rather data is managed, analyzed to and for the benefit of the customer, the company and greater good – Customers are embraced.”

    Exactly. The value of SCRM and Enterprise 2.0 is that it offers the means to support both objectives — embracing customers and managing the business.

    Esteban also brings up excellent points about the customer model and Gen Y. I disagree on one point though. My gut feeling is Gen Y is likely to be just as loyal to a vendor as any other generation…but using different yardsticks.

    Perhaps for this generation, a company should expect to win “every” sale with them but a track record of “many” or “most” sales. And connecting with them will very much involve building and participating in transparent communities, as well as providing the information they demand to make informed decisions.

    Gen Y is going to have as much influence on the market as Baby Boomers do and did because of their huge numbers. Companies can either push off the changing customer model, likely to their detriment, or embrace it. Those who do the latter will have the advantage of getting ahead of the curve with the harder-to-win loyalty of Gen Yers.

    Last thought. Technology will be important but I don’t think the answer will be a single, whiz-bang technology or solution set. Companies will benefit from setting their customer and social media strategy first. Then look to their existing infrastructure to leverage what they already have in place (for example, their CRM solution). The next step will be plugging any technology gaps.

    SMBs won’t have the bandwidth to be everywhere so they’ll need to cherry-pick the right social media mix for their customer-centric goals. Large companies may have the resources to be everywhere but they too need to determine where they will gain the greatest return on the efforts. From that strategic springboard, the right technology mix will be more apparent in terms of community outreach as well as systems to capture data about activity.

    Given the accelerated pace of change today, it is a good idea to look to tech solutions that will have fluidity to accomodate changes in both technological advancement and social change.

    My 2 cents.

    • mjayliebs September 9, 2009, 8:53 PM

      Kathy,

      Thanks for your thoughts.

      The interesting point you touch on is the SMB space. Some will have a difficult time keeping up, while some will be far ahead of the pack. The only constant is change, I hope I can keep up!

      Mitch

    • Esteban Kolsky September 10, 2009, 5:19 AM

      Kathy,

      I think that most of what we can say about Gen-Y at this point is pure speculation as they are just beginning to become consumers, join the workforce (well, OK – at a level where they can influence a change), and don’t think they have yet figured out their role as change agents. They are, per people who know, destined to be the next great generation and accomplish many things we can’t even dream of – and as you rightfully put it, their sheer number is going to cause a generational shift (as highlighted in this great article by Aaaron Strout and John Caas – http://ow.ly/nUi2).

      My sentiments on their lack of loyalty is a conclusion after reading some of the greatest minds describe the way we will be (actually, that is the title of the book by Zogby: the Way We’ll Be In America – http://www.amazon.com/Way-Well-Be-Transformation-American/product-reviews/1400064503). People whom I totally respect and admire share your opinion about a different type of loyalty and we had this recent discussion in my blog about it. I think that we need to wait and see — but all the indications are that loyalty is not going to be an issue to keep in mind with them.

      let’s talk in 30-40 years and we can see who was right :)

  • scorpfromhell September 9, 2009, 3:53 PM

    Mitch,

    I am overwhelmed! :oops:

    First Esteban includes me in his post [which I honestly believe is the 2nd post I would ask anybody who wants to know about social CRM to read, after Paul's stake in the ground post] & now you profusely quote me. B)

    That architecture diagram was done with your feedback, so you too must stake your credits for it! :)

    I agree with Esteban though … this post doesn’t really seem technical! ;) May be we have gotten too influenced by our accidental community! :mrgreen:

    The one thing that doesn’t get prominence in our discussions is the “control” that the consumer has now over “their” [profile & network] information & the new mindset required for striking a right balance between privacy & user access. We will never have transparent people or businesses – they will all be varying degrees of translucence – so our systems should reflect that too!

    My user components segment in that architecture diagram is only scratching the surface of the topic/issue.

    It was pretty easy to get private details from Facebook via quizzes etc. but the Canadian law related changes as well the ACLU quiz is forcing Facebook to relook at its Privacy policies in a top down as well as bottoms up approach. This has tough implications at the technology level. I seriously do not know how much do the existing CRM systems &/or online shop fronts/touch points/community platforms stand up to these requirements.

    Thoughts?