Gartner defines Social CRM as applications “for supporting communities of internal users, customers, partners and other stakeholders to assist with sales, marketing and customer service processes for the mutual benefit of enterprises and their customers”. It represents the convergence of two very significant forces - the long-established CRM market and the rapidly evolving business social media landscape. And it’s expanding rapidly, with global spending predicted to exceed the $1 billion mark by 2013...
A recent article in MyCustomer.com identifies interesting parallels with the CRM market a decade ago. As many of us remember only too well, the initial enthusiasm for CRM was followed by a series of failed projects that cost too much, took too long and failed to deliver the hoped for results. Is something similar about to happen with Social CRM? Is Social CRM, in Gartner’s immortal phrase, about to descend into the “trough of disillusionment”?
Social CRM: From the Trough to the Cloud?
There are - I believe - good reasons to think not. That first wave of failed CRM implementations was characterised by big old and ugly traditional IT-led projects involving complex solutions that required extensive, lengthy and often misdirected systems integration before they could start to deliver results.
That unhappy era was brought to an end by the timely launch of salesforce.com and its peers. They resegmented the CRM market by offering capable solutions that could be quickly and easily implemented by business unit managers who did not have to depend on inevitably overstretched IT resources to make things happen.
A New Generation of Social CRM Applications
Today’s new wave of social CRM applications is characterised by a new generation of suppliers - vendors that have grown up with a contemporary, largely SaaS-based approach to developing, deploying and delivering solutions that are capable of delivering rapid value in terms of improved insights into customer opinions and behaviours.
It’s resulted - as Gartner point out - in a fragmented vendor landscape. Many of the offerings are still point solutions, and while integrated suites are still to emerge, that’s no reason to hold back - because the learning that marketing, sales and service organisations will gain from participating will outweigh the potential need to change platforms in the years to come.
Only the Paranoid Survive
Neil Davey of MyCustomer.com quotes Jim Davies of Gartner as explaining the current wave of social CRM implementations by businesses as being driven by paranoia about what their customers are saying about them. For these reasons, the majority of investment is coming from B2C or B2B2C enterprises, although B2B investments are growing and will represent a significant share of the market by 2015.
But it’s not just a matter, as Intel’s Andy Grove used to suggest, of only the paranoid surviving. Organisations who successfully experiment with Social CRM today will ride an invaluable learning curve. And they will have been enabled to do so without the leaden hand of IT holding them back.
Social CRM: Another Nail in the IT Coffin?
We’re already observing a rapidly-growing uptake of Cloud Computing applications. So is this latest wave of Social CRM yet another nail in the traditional IT coffin? And if so, what are the implications for users and vendors alike?
What are your experiences of Business Social Media and Social CRM? How much have you achieved to date, and how do you foresee your organisation's involvement evolving? And can you see a role for the traditional established IT vendors - and your own IT department - in helping you realise the potential of Social CRM?
Building Scalable, Sociable Businesses
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