That Which We Call a Rose by Any Other Name Would Still be CRM

Today’s issue: what to name Social CRM and where to place it within the organization.

Why does it matter?  I have been writing and researching the CRM market for a while and have seen the new terms come and go, most of them leaving little in the sense of progress for the CRM industry.  My “job” is to help businesses adopt the solutions we are talking about.  If they adopt the name, and the concept, then the industry moves forward. A lengthy discussion on naming acts as a deterrent for businesses to adopt the concept and begin using it and, as Tony Nemelka also explained, a lack of naming conventions keeps investors away from the market.

There is a considerable debate right now and it is expected.  After the hype for any concept peaks, the next step is ownership — and that begins with naming it.  I want to make sure that the naming does not become more important that helping the business identify the concepts and move forward; I want to propose five rules for Social CRM naming:

1. The term Social CRM is already agreed on and will not change.  Similarly, the terms Enterprise 2.0 and CRM are also set-in-stone.

2. The term Social Business as a designator of the future state of business is already agreed on.  Businesses are becoming social because society (led mostly by Generation Y citizens becoming customers and workers) is demanding it.

3. The term Social Business Design, as defined by David Armano Dachis Group, is an agreed on method for business to become social.

4.  The term Communities as a definition of groups with similar ideas and desires, but not set strategic directions or rules, is agreed on and won’t change.  The purpose of the community is not important if you know how to handle them, so whether they are for social purposes, service purposes, marketing or sales purposes communities are here to stay (as they have been since the 1960s)

5. As for the relationship between them, above everything else we have the Social Business.  Organizations are either there today (doubt it) or on their way to become one.

a. Social Business Strategy is the overall strategy that the business sets for how to become social, deal with customers and communities, and interact in a social world.  This is regardless of business function or the way to do it, it is a set of objectives, metrics, and goals they would like to accomplish in this new social world.

b. Social Business Design is the method by which the business will change their processes, systems, data stores, and people to become a Social Business.  It is used to craft new experiences, new processes and to help people embrace the social business model to attain the Social Business Strategy.

c. Enterprise 2.0 is the internal strategy that the business will use to become social – it is highly dependent on the Social Business Strategy and can be achieved using the Social Business Design model.  It is not struggle free, and there are still discussions similar to this one with respect to its naming.

d. Social CRM is the external strategy that the business will use to become social.  As the Enterprise 2.0 for internal, it is highly dependent on Social Business Strategy and leverages Social Business Design to accomplish it.  Further, it leverages existing CRM strategy, systems, and models to ensure continuity in the relationships with customers.

What do you think? What did  I miss? Are you ready to affirm these truths and use them as we move forward? What would you change?

30 Replies to “That Which We Call a Rose by Any Other Name Would Still be CRM”

  1. Esteban:

    Great write-up. I agree on these definitions. The only one that is hard is Enterprise 2.0. I have heard many use it as an umbrella term to mean the strategy Enterprises employ to use Web 2.0 applications both internally and externally. From wikipedia: “The phrase Enterprise Web 2.0 sometimes refers to the introduction and implementation within an enterprise of Web 2.0 technologies.”

    Maybe you should edit the wikipedia entries? – I think the definitions above can add a lot to what is up there.

    .-= Michelle de Haaff´s last blog ..Attensity Group Enhances Social Media Capabilities with Attensity Cloud, to Enable Organizations to Monitor, Analyze and Respond to Conversations =-.


    1. thanks Michelle,

      It will be a very, very cold day in the deepest southern country before I take on a Wikipedia battle of definition with vendors. If you know what I mean 🙂

      Wikipedia still does not allow references to come from blogs, only magazines (even if online) journals, and books.

      Of course, if I was at Gartner and had the time, Gartner research articles can also be quoted… but then again, it was too much time last time i tried that and the vendors always have people with time available…


  2. Sorry Esteban, not completely prepared to affirm the above as truths..

    My hesitation is with the relationship between the 4 elements. Does a Social Business supersede the Social CRM Strategy? I’m not convinced that a Social Business Strategy is significantly different than a Social CRM Strategy.. Actually I cannot think of any element in it that would differentiate it from the other, but I could be mistaking of course.

    Bottom line: I believe that Social CRM is also a Business Strategy and not merely a Functional strategy. Do you really see Social CRM “just” as a functional strategy?

    p.s. for understanding of the different levels of strategy I think this overview from Wikipedia is useful:

    Corporate strategy refers to the overarching strategy of the diversified firm. Such a corporate strategy answers the questions of “in which businesses should we be in?” and “how does being in these businesses create synergy and/or add to the competitive advantage of the corporation as a whole?”

    Business strategy refers to the aggregated strategies of single business firm or a strategic business unit (SBU) in a diversified corporation. According to Michael Porter, a firm must formulate a business strategy that incorporates either cost leadership, differentiation or focus in order to achieve a sustainable competitive advantage and long-term success in its chosen arenas or industries.

    Functional strategies include marketing strategies, new product development strategies, human resource strategies, financial strategies, legal strategies, supply-chain strategies, and information technology management strategies. The emphasis is on short and medium term plans and is limited to the domain of each department’s functional responsibility. Each functional department attempts to do its part in meeting overall corporate objectives, and hence to some extent their strategies are derived from broader corporate strategies.

    Looking forward to your views (and those of the #scrm community)
    .-= Wim Rampen´s last blog ..The path to Social CRM: do you have a Portfolio of Real Options? =-.


    1. Ah, yee of little faith.

      Have you forgotten, perchance, that a business remains a business beyond the relationships with their customers? how about supply chain management via social media channels? enterprise resource planning leveraging said tools? compliance with government and industry regulations – using channels reserved for social transactions traditionally?

      I know I did not explain it properly, but the social channels remain channels. Thus a social business exists by virtue of leveraging that for all of their operations – not just their interactions with customers. Which brings us back to the business being social (partners, government, etc.) and using the channels.

      Social Media is more than just interactions with customers — even if customers make up for the bulk of the usage.

      As for hierarchy — stay tuned to the roadmap and you will see that in action… scary how some people actually see things the same way…

      should be coming tomorrow or the day after… just depends on other obligations, before i can take on the fun 🙂

      can you sign off on this now? or are you going to wait until you see the other piece? it is all part of a plan…


      1. Of course I have not forgotten about all the non-direct customer related stuff.. They can have functional strategies all by themselves, as long as they fit into, or better: enhance the greater business strategy..


        I (sometimes I must add) have more faith in you than in myself.. This is one of those times: Signed off for now and looking forward to the revolutions 😉
        .-= Wim Rampen´s last blog ..The path to Social CRM: do you have a Portfolio of Real Options? =-.


        1. your (misplaced) faith shall be rewarded if i can end up this series the way it is in my mind. if i fail, then you can pick up the pieces and make it better.

          thanks for reading (and agreeing)


  3. Well said Esteban, the definitive guide. I won’t agree with Social CRM but let’s put that behind us for now. There are too many things to accomplish for us to continue arguing over that detail (for now).

    The good news is this round of debates resulted in a work like this, great job.



  4. Hi Esteban,

    I have been following this discussion on Twitter for a couple of days and was waiting for the opportunity to post a response to all of the people contributing and following the “naming” and “where does it fit” discussion, so firstly thanks for summarising and bringing all of this debate into one place.

    Being fortunate enough to come from an Enterprise Architecture (or Business Technologist), I have the opportunity (which is why I love my job) to think through the impact of subjects live Social CRM from a different angle and to examine it from the broadest impact on the enterprise.

    Therefore, and in response to your question “What did I miss?”, I feel that it is necessary to bring another term to the table. The concept I would like to introduce is Business Network Transformation (BNT).

    I am not going to go on here to explain BNT in any great detail, readers who are interested can do that themselves, using the links below. However, Capgemini’s global CTO Andy Mulholland defines it as “… the ability to find, make, use and, if necessary, end relationships rapidly to position to fulfil various market opportunities in partnership with other enterprises as suppliers, alliances, etc.”

    This is coming from both the importance of the physical networks used by enterprises and the organisation/people networks that everyone one of us participates in. I believe this is highly relevant regarding the whole Social CRM subject and is a much bigger umbrella and framework for Social CRM to be a part of.

    Personally, I like the name Social CRM and agree with you that if the name and concept is adopted then adoption and use will move forwards.

    Apologies to everyone for introducing another term. However, I hope this helps rather than hinders…


    BNT Links

    Click to access BigNetworkwp.pdf

    .-= Mark Walton-Hayfield´s last blog ..MarkW_H: Attended Capgemini ASE today – fantastic! How many phone calls, e-mails, meetings would it have taken for results? =-.


    1. Mark,

      Thanks for the read and the comments. I am glad that you are coming from away of the tight world of CRM and SCRM to comment, as that is my intention and effort for the next few weeks – begin to engage people from other areas into this world. I think that the only way to grow will be if we can transcend our self-imposed barriers and integrate with the rest of the world.

      I like the concept of BTN since I think it reflects very well the world we are living in today, and probably will in the medium-term. Companies that have not yet adapted to the social customer and the BTN they need to interact with to succeed have still a short window of opportunity to make the shift, or begin the transformation.

      I am very much on board with your comment as I see BTN as an extension for CRM towards partners and other entities that are not customers – but keeping in mind similar issues as SCRM faces with customers.

      Thanks for a great comment, and very timely. You will probably begin to see more of that in the mid-term from my blog (need to finish my plans for SCRM first :)).



  5. I like the distinctions at the end. I’d recommend changing “as defined by David Armano” to “as defined by Dachis Group” I am helping to communicate, deliver upon and do believe in a vision that I’m merely a part of, not driving.
    .-= David Armano´s last blog ..Social Business By Design 2.0 =-.


  6. Hey – what about marketing! 🙂

    Here are the definition I have drafted and am using for Social Media (got to start with this with some audiences) and Social Media Marketing:

    Social Media – blogs, wikis, forums, public social networking sites, microblogging (Twitter), audio or video sharing sites, where a community model is in play and user-generated content and connections are the primary currency. These are the ‘channels’ for social media marketing.

    Social Media Marketing – the business use of social media for engaging customers, building thought leadership, creating leads and/or driving product innovation.

    What do you think?



    1. Allen,

      I did not make any differentiation (yet) into social marketing, social sales, and social service (which needs a new name since that does not work).

      I am posting tomorrow my first “social marketing” piece, a review of social marketing functionality deployed by Helpstream. Alas, I think that (as Wim also pointed out in his post above) is the next step for us: define social functions and strategies. I want to do the post on roadmap first, I like the way it is coming up.

      I agree with your definitions – for now. It will require more time for me to think about it, so we will agree in full when we get there. I trust you more than I trust myself in Social Marketing though…

      Thanks for the comment!


  7. Esteban,

    What Social CRM says in one..rather four words – you have explained it in about forty odd lines. Yes, there are subtle differences in the terms defined but most of them focus on one thing i.e. to redefine CRM.

    I’m glad that you consolidated it in one blog. Was wondering what you people were discussing on twitter of-late 😛

    Newbie like me got a clear understanding of what it all means.

    .-= Asim´s last blog ..Implement Password Policy to enhance security and increase your efficiency by setting Reminders =-.


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  9. Hi Esteban

    A valiant effort to bring a little clarity to the murky world of SocialYYZ; where XYZ is almost any set of three letters.

    I have said this before and no doubt I will say it again. Social XYZ is still in the earliest stage of development. It is an emergent phenomenon. It is more important at this stage to understand what is consists of and how it works in outline, than to try and define things. The definitions will emerge with the passage of time as we fill in all the missing details. And there are many details that are still missing.

    I have just returned from the Mass Customisation, Personalisation and Co-Creation conference in Helsinki. The conference brought together 250 academics, consultants and businesses whose daily work includes, but is not limited to, Social XYZ. The many conversations I had over the three days reminded me just how SHALLOW our discussions of SocialXYZ are. Whether it is the definitions of SocBusStrategy that don’t mention profit, Dachis Groups superficial outline of SocBusDesign in its much-hyped whitepaper, or SocCRM’s struggle with the deciding what the role of the customer should be.

    We have a lot of work to do: To understand the role that customers should, could and ought to play in SocXYZ. To understand the broad and deep capabilities that we have to build to enable SocXYZ. To understand how SocXYZ creates economic value for companies and other sorts of value for customers. To understand SocXYZ changes how experiences are delivered. And. To understand the myriad of implications that SocXYZ has for the management of brands.

    It is high time that we improved our game significantly. It is time we started to look in more detail at the early adopters of SocXYZ to see what really works. It is time we started to scour the rapidly expanding literature to understand why it does. And it is time we started combing the two to build robust, proven, replicable approaches to getting SocXYZ to work in everyone’s organisation. Doing this will require that businesses, academics and consultants come together to look at SocXYZ through their different perspectives. This will not be easy, but there is no alternative.

    We know what we have to do. So let’s get on with it.

    Graham Hill
    Customer-centric Innovator


    1. Graham,

      I can only say one thing to your comment. I could not agree more if I would have written it myself. Only thing I will emphasize – XYZ is not CRM, it is about business. Part of the work to be done is bring the outside world (customers and other parts of the business) into the CRM world (or put our world out there – either way works, no dreams of control and ownership on my side) and work it together.

      I am very impressed by the vision you bring to this. As I always said, two is a pattern, three is a trend. And I know there are more than three in this industry / market / whatever you want to call it that feel like you do.

      Let’s do it…

      Thanks for the read and comment


  10. Amen, gentlemen. Most of the business world doesn’t give a crap about the debate over what to call what. They need to do what we always talk about – acquire and retain profitable customers. Customers demand different things at different times in the cycle of human existence because they are people who’s cultural norms and social foci change from time to time and era to era and place to place. It has always been incumbent on institutions who interact with people in one capacity or another i.e. businesses with customers to figure out how they think and what they think and provide them with what they need to maintain or expand or not lose the relationship. That goes for all institutions but for our purposes – businesses. The businesses need to meet an agenda that doesn’t necessarily overlap with the customer’s particular agenda except possibly in certain places. The business has to find out where that overlap is and what they have to do to make it worth the customers’ and their own – whiles. That means how it gets done is far more important that what its called or the esoterica that often gets thrown around in discussions about “the nature of…” whatever. I’m personally on the same track as you guys here – let’s discuss something meaningful to those we serve – the customers and the business people. Technology is a part of it but only a part of it. Definition is no longer necessary as far as I’m concerned. How to do what has to be done is far more important.
    .-= Paul Greenberg´s last blog ..Competing in the Social Customer’s World – Getting Hotter =-.


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