Once more from the top!

30 Aug 2011

Do you ever feel bullied into a particular way of thinking? You know, the guy in the corner who has a strong opinion and because what he says ‘sorta’ sounds right, you end up going with the flow along with everyone else in the room and the more people that get behind his argument the more difficult it is to uncouple your carriage from his train? Well that’s in a way what I worry about with Social CRM. Lots of people trying frantically to shoehorn their business strategy into the ‘this is how you should do it’ force-fed ideas.

All the big CRM hitters are spouting off about ‘cloud computing for the social enterprise’ or ‘engaging with the relationship as well as the people’ how do you get past the noise and out into your own patch of sunshine?

Now I admit that I am a technical kinda guy and as a business OpenCRM is normally a step ahead of the rest of the pack, but with Social CRM I am struggling to ‘get it’ how this will work in the ‘real world’.

Its not that I don’t understand the cornerstone of the argument, as Wikipedia points out it’s the “use of social media services, techniques and technology to enable organisations to engage with their customers” as well as Paul Greenberg’s assertion ;

“Social 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.”

What’s frustrating and confusing for me is the way that some of the players in the CRM market are trying to claim the high ground for themselves, trying to shout loudest about what Social CRM ‘is’ which under investigation translates into what social CRM elements they are adopting (or acquiring – sorry no names).

One thing that we can all be sure of is that Social CRM is not going to mean the same thing to a Small Business Owner, Corporate Dept Head or CRM Development Company, in the same way that the term CRM has yet to shake down into a single definition. As Paul Greenberg says, it’s the use of this multitude of ideas and technologies, coming together in your unique strategy that makes Social CRM come alive and my point is to make sure that the strategy is yours and not formed by someone else’s agenda [or feature set].

So what about what we do and what we are looking to do in the future? For me it’s all an extension of CRM, just getting the Customer to have a better Relationship and then Managing this process using these Social tools. Of course we are looking to hold more information in OpenCRM as well as providing better ways to access the conversations that are relevant to you and your prospects, customers, partners or suppliers.

Its going to be an interesting 12 months as we see Salesforce.com deliver Radian features direct into their Winter 12 edition as well as other Social tools promoting easy ways to aggregate their information in a more meaningful fashion.  Just like when CRM adoption started in earnest, here we go again… once more from the top!