Call it a revolution, call it a bubble, call it what you want. One thing is for sure: social networks are not going away. Even though it still remains important to be able to manage and measure your sales funnel with the help of some tried & tested SFA tools, segment your customer database to build more effective target groups for campaigns, or share information on customer support enquiries across your helpdesk staff, this functionality will not be considered as important as it was during the last decade. In this new age of connected customers and empowered information workers, companies will be searching for applications and processes that go beyond what CRM has traditionally stood for.
Let’s take a look at some of the recent news surrounding the world of CRM, to gather evidence of where we might be heading towards.
Takeways from #SFDC #DF11
On the last week of July, Salesforce.com held their annual Dreamforce conference in San Francisco. As a person working with Dynamics CRM for a living, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on where the other CRM solution providers are focusing their development efforts on, and SFDC certainly is one of, if not the main competitor that Microsoft has their eyes on. In his opening keynote, Marc Benioff made it very clear where his team’s focus is on, and that is the concept of a social enterprise. I’ll spare you from the marketing flare and instead present a few screenshots captured from the presentation, highlighting the new feature announcements.
So, what’s in the pipeline for Salesforce.com during the winter 2011/2012 then?
- Contact profiles will be “social enabled” by default, showing public feeds from networks were your customers are present
- Data.com, previously known as Jigsaw, will power the social data discovery and data import, in combination with D&B’s database
- Chatter Now extends the functionality from microblogging to instant messaging with presence information
- You can invite your key customer contacts to specific Chatter networks, or even publish Chatter on the web as a customer service channel
- Radian6’s technology will monitor those customer complaints that are not targeted at your helpdesk, enabling you to jump in on the conversation
- All of this follows you everywhere you go, as touch.salesforce.com promises to deliver a HTML5 client that’ll make your iPad or smartphone a full-fledged social CRM control panel
Even if you leave away some of the over-the-top scenarios presented, like friending the Coke machine or having network routers tweet you on social networks, it’s still clear that with all the promised functionality at your fingertips (once it’s available and working in a reliable manner), the possibilities for you to design and implement new business processes will be dramatically expanded. Whether companies are able to make use of and, more importantly, make money out of these new possibilities is a different question, but it surely does push the boundaries of CRM as we know it.
Social CRM is where it’s at
“Social” certainly is an attractive attribute to include in your product description these days. Gartner, for example, has predicted that the market for Social CRM would reach a total value of one billion dollars by the end of next year. Predicting the future with concrete figures is always a challenge, but it’s even more difficult when people don’t even agree on the definition of the market to be predicted. Several analysts have commented on Gartner’s reports, starting from reminders that an SCRM market may not really exist yet, or they have questioned Gartner’s choice of products included in their SCRM Magic Quadrants as including applications aimed at other functions than what CRM systems traditionally are about – managing customer information, that is.