The SCRM-E2.0 Convergence: Train Wreck or Chunnel?

On Tuesday January 12th we had discussion on the convergence between SCRM and Enterprise 2.0.

My introduction to the topic summarized what I see as the main issue: SCRM and Enterprise 2.0 are heading in the same direction (customer-centricity), talking about the same issues (engagement), using the same technologies (collaboration), and solving similar problems (culture, politics, adoption) — yet, we pretend we are talking about two very separate, different things. Not only are they very similar, but whether you are collaborating internally among users, or externally with clients, without reaching out to the other constituency it won’t work.  Clients and users are closely tied in a Social world.

The most surprising thing was the answer to a simple question: who among the SCRM practitioners and implementers in the panel and the audience had enabled internal collaboration to support the SCRM changes they had adopted? Among 35-40 people, only one hand went up.  This was reinforced by the avoidance of the concept as I tried to ask more direct questions to that effect – when I asked what should an organization do to support the changes brought on by Social Media adoption and by SCRM implementations, the answer went back to implementing SCRM and the changes it brought to customers.  Although the audience was mostly SCRM, I am sure if I were to ask the E2.0 crowd what  changes they made to their customer-facing processes to reflect the internal changes I would get a similar answer (crickets).

Seriously? No changes necessary?

If this the current state of the convergence, we got lots of work to do to make it happen.  My prediction for 2010 as the year it begins the liftoff may have been a bit ahead of its time (a comment someone in the audience made following the event).

There is no way that either one of the two movements will succeed without the other.  You cannnot have meaningful change in processes dealing with customers (providing better experiences, increasing loyalty) if you don’t alter the way you work.  And altering the way you work without having a significant impact in how you deliver to the client makes almost as much sense (improved collaboration with no effect on delivery).

It is simple, the two shall meet and move forward together for organizations to embrace being social.  No other way around it.

I was searching for an analogy to conceptualize where we are.  I thought of two trains running on the same track, facing each other, full speed ahead.  We see them going to crash — yet we cannot warn them, or alter their course, or avoid the crash.

As I was thinking more and more about it I realized that it is a poor, albeit sensationalist, representation of what the convergence can bring.  Sure, both camps would prefer to have this representation of independence and momentum and a separate end goal.

But it is not like that at all.  The Convergence is more like building the Chunnel.

The underground tunnel between UK and France was built simultaneously digging from both sides.  Each one of them had similar problems to solve, and unique problems to solve.  They both did the best they could to keep the common goal in mind: meeting in the middle.  Now, if we can make two tunnels starting from opposite ends about 50 kilometers apart meet in a specific point in the middle — I am sure we can make two strategic solutions meet halfway and deliver an engaged, customer-centric organization – right?

The Convergence - If it happened once, it can happen again...

I am planning a series of weekly posts for February 2010 that will explore in more detail how to make it happen.  Let me know if you want to chat, converse, or collaborate on that.

What do you think? Possible? Plausible? Doable?  Would love to hear your thoughts…

30 Replies to “The SCRM-E2.0 Convergence: Train Wreck or Chunnel?”

    1. Paula,

      I knew at least you’d see it that way. I am just not sure why people insist on reinventing the wheel each time, when the one we have spins around just fine.

      Thanks for the read! (and for the Amen!)


  1. So, CRM was about getting separate customer-facing areas to work to a common goal, the customer. And still, in some CRM implementations Sales, Marketing and Customer Service do not meet up in the center. So, my thought is we focus on the companies that succeeded with this concept so they have a reasonable chance of meeting the e2.0 folks in the new middle.

    I’ve got to change the types of companies I work with if I’m ever going to witness this. Take pictures of it for me Esteban!
    .-= Mike Boysen´s last blog ..The CRM Product Management Checklist =-.


    1. Mike,

      You are a very astute observer, I do have to give you that. Your point is dead-on, with one minor exception: CRM is not what it used to be anymore. I resigned to never see some of promises from CRM: total front-office integration, 360-degree holistic view of the customer, end-to-end managed relationships. However, I see the value for the tools as they are, and as part of a social business implementation.

      CRM is the system-of-record for all interaction and relationship information (including a dynamic and ever-changing customer data model), and it works with other systems in the organization towards delivering and monitoring end-to-end experiences. Social CRM is the add-on of social channels to this and the recognition that the change in the customer, becoming the social customer, means we have to change the way we operate as an organization.

      To me the social business is the way to collaborate, both internally and externally, towards a customer-driven customer-centric model. Yeah, lots of buzzwords on that one… but it is the way for businesses to move to the next level. Convergence delivers that model. Does it make sense?

      Thanks for the read, and for your great comment…


  2. Hi Esteban,

    Love the analogy, for which I would hope it wasn’t true..

    What we might need first too is a new view of the Frontoffice. Traditional CRM, hence most organizations, take Sales, Marketing and Service as their entry points or “interfaces” between Customer and company. As a consequence of Open Innovation, Collaborative Innovation or Co-creation and alike initiatives, there is at least this one new entry point for Customers. An entry point not used in Social CRM logic and not in its 2.0 versions of technology.

    The Frontoffice (and “backoffice”) does not only need to change it’s logic and approach (collaboration etc), organizations need to understand that the Frontoffice has changed and will undergo significant changes as convergence comes closer..

    Much more to say about this.. I take your post not only as an introduction and announcement. I take it as an invitation too 😉

    Looking forward to your posts and the debate on convergence!

    Thx.. Wim
    .-= Wim Rampen´s last blog ..Counting down… =-.


    1. Wim,

      Thanks for the comment. Of course it is an open invitation – as if I could have the answsers…

      I agree that the front-office also needs to change, but then we are talking about non-CRM specific actions that need to change (well, probably the CRM functions would need to change as well…). The bottom line is that the whole company should align behind the “convergence” because it is just another fancy word for “doing the right thing by the customer”.

      I am doing some more reading and understanding the essence of the relationships between customers and organization (not as in co-creation – which is for a purpose – but overall. It was interesting that Graham Hill twitted about it this morning, as it had been in my mind most of the weekend as I was reading and researching…)

      Bottom Line: this is a long process, we are just at the beginning — but we may have stumbled unto the good reason to do SCRM and E20 that Executives and Sr. People can understand… it is not about touchy-feely relationships (I say it never was) or engagement… it is about basic organizational change.

      Thanks for the comment, please — I insist — feel free to collaborate / contribute at any time. It makes me look smarter 🙂


      1. A few weeks ago I read a quote somewhere (forgot the source, so can’t retrieve) about how it (now) is all about “tapping into the right knowledge-flows”.. I think this is basically true, if only because of my own experiences.. And it certainly “hit me” again today when discussing with Graham Hill and Thierry de Baillon on Twitter..

        CRM has never been abt relationships. It has always been about Customer Insights (also known as “knowledge”) and using that to the advantage of the Customer ( mostly, but that will hopefully change).. Social CRM is about understanding Customers and turning those insights into .. well you know where I’m heading with that sentence..

        Knowledge you need desperately to be able to support your Customers process of value (co)-creation or design new experiences to do so. Furthermore supporting your Customers is nothing more than transferring knowledge from company to Customers, in whatever way or form..

        We also all know that knowledge is created better when more people (with an interest and some knowledge themselves) are involved in the process.. Collaboration (and co-creation) in essence is knowledge (flow) creation..

        Taking all this one, could argue (well, I believe) that the Social Business Strategy in the end is about getting the knowledge flows going.. not only inside the company, but from the outside in primarily, and back .. Knowledge flows aimed at supporting Customers’ value (co)-creation processes..

        Or am I now taking a (too) short cut?
        .-= Wim Rampen´s last blog ..Counting down… =-.


        1. Wim,

          I would agree with you 100% if you take a two-way view of the knowledge flows. The vision that they can only come from the customer (or primarily) makes the workers in the organization seem unimportant. I know that is not what you meant, but I want to emphasize that for a social business to work both sides must be represented equally.

          customers generate insights based on experiences, workers generate better experiences based on those insights. it is all about the experiences (i wrote some of this in a post for that should be out tomorrow), and they are based on the knowledge flows.

          just saying… if you can meet he half way, we can make customers and workers equal pieces in the collaboration scheme we call social business.


          1. Hi Esteban,

            For the avoidance of doubt: we don’t have to meet half-way.. we are already there.

            In my view it is about knowledge flowing from the outside in, being interpreted and enriched by (a network of) Employees & Partners, expressed through improved (or innovated) experiences for both Customers, Employees and Partners..

            or something like that 😀

            p.s. read the exclusive for the Social Customer.. good piece too, with some caveat. Will respond later today..
            .-= Wim Rampen´s last blog ..Counting down… =-.


  3. Hi Esteban

    Interesting post.

    Perhaps the lack of end-to-end thinking that the SocCRMers displayed is an artefact of their focus on what they are doing (and in particular on the tools they are implementing), rather than on the purpose of it all.

    I have been part of far too many projects in the past whose sole aim was to implement, for example, CRM. Once CRM was implemented, and by that I generally mean once the CRM tool was implemented, the job was done and everyone could go home happy. As you can imagine, just implementing CRM, or SocCRM today, results in nothing more than increased costs. Old Organisation + New Technology = Expensive Old Organisation, as the old saying so accurately puts it. Making CRM, or SocCRM work requires all the levers -– technology, processes, data flows, roles & responsibilities, work climate, performance measures, etc — to be pulled at the same time.

    Ted Levitt described the equivalent short-sightedness in Marketing –- Marketing Myopia –- over 30 years ago. Despite knowing the error of their ways, Marketing Myopia is still pandemic in today’s marketers. This short-sightedness seems to be equally widespread in CRM and today, in SocCRM. Maybe that’s why 50-75% of CRM projects fail. And no doubt that’s why SocCRM projects will fail at the same rate too.

    Does anyone have a recipe for overcoming our SocCRM Myopia?

    Graham Hill
    Customer-centric Innovator


    1. Graham,

      Thanks for the read and the comment. My blog still does not like you and puts you in the SPAM pile, so my apologies for the delay.

      I think you nailed it in your first sentence. It is all about not a lack of focus, but having the wrong focus. We go back to the nail-hammer discussion (if you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail) in the sense that CRM senses that it must be about relationships (which are only for making money, of course). Alas, if we can take that thought further and deeper into the organization, we start to see how this convergence is so far beyond that. Similarly, on the inside of the house, the E20 crew is thinking about better processes — but lacking the purpose for them.

      The bottom line, as Thiery de Baillon (@tdebaillon) tweeted earlier today, it is about the knowledge and the knowledge flows (we were having a discussion about those a couple of weeks ago over Twitter — not sure if you got that). The knowledge flow is what makes the convergence work and necessary. Knowledge from the customer infiltrates the internal collaboration groups, knowledge from these groups impact the customer.

      That is what this is all about. And it has nothing to do with relationships, or managing them or the customer better. It is about leveraging all interested parties and their knowledge into creating better ecosystems. Want to call it Social Business? Ecosystems 2.0? Sure, anything that would align people behind the concept.

      What would make CRM people go beyond their myopia? results. And we may be a little bit too early for that… wasn’t that what made co-creation, design-thinking, and even six-sigma be noticed? It is about a pioneering organization adopting and succeeding, the the rest of the world takes notice and moves in that direction…

      Will just have to wait and see.

      Thanks for an excellent comment!


      1. In reading through this thread, I am actually starting to see light at the end of the chunnel! Ha, ha, sorry. But your point in the SocialCustomer blog is well-taken; the traditional sales force is on the front line of this revolution. There is likely to be as much a confrontation as a convergence in the near term.


        1. Melissa,

          It is interesting that you bring those two elements as opposites: convergence and confrontation. I really try no to see them that way, but I can see how they may show up as potential adversaries. I would prefer to think that the sales processes are run from inside the organization and that the sales people being from the outside are like paid contractors paid to supervise and make sure the chunnel goes in the right direction, etc.



  4. Hi Esteban,

    Great post and discussion, and thank you for quoting me. I totally agree with you when saying that to be able to think in terms of Social Business (and facilitate adoption of tools and methodologies with this focus in mind) we need results.
    The main problem won’t come from E2.0 side, where there are so few end-to-end frameworks available yet, and emergence prevent us from out-of-the-box thinking, but from the marketing side. I see so many marketers sticking with an “engagement” approach, and trying to use it as a measure of results, that the necessary step toward a knowledge-based approach will require a new cultural change.
    To paraphrase Georges Clemenceau, marketing might be much too serious a matter to be entrusted to marketers alone.
    .-= Thierry de Baillon´s last blog ..Adressing time issues in Enterprise 2.0 approaches =-.


    1. Thierry,

      Thanks for the read and the comment. What actually worries me a little is that this is going to be mostly a cultural change. And those are hard and take long time, but I think that the societal changes we are experiencing are on our side on this one.

      As the Zen Master said — we’ll see…


  5. Thanks for generating the post and the rich discussion that has followed as a result…
    I am intrigued by the parallel tracks suggested. I’d also build on that that its not just two or three tracks but everyone in an organization might experiement and try things…just given the robust opporutnities that exist via web access. Our approach (and we’re still smoothing it out) was to collaborate with all stakeholders and create a SMIT (social media influence team) that brings everyone together in one conversation about what we are doing. Between CRM/digital and the communications team we can align on the “how”…then work with the marketers on the “what”. Fascinating times for sure. And I also think that the “how and what” is totally determined case by case and the organizational objectives. Cheers @MolsonFerg
    .-= Ferg Devins´s last blog ..L’équipe de Molson Coors à Gaspé s’engage pour la Fondation le R.A.D.E.A.U. =-.


    1. Ferg,

      That is a very interesting way to bring about change in the organization. Thanks for sharing…

      I agree that each situation would be different and wish more people were to see it that way.

      Thanks for the read


  6. Hi Esteban,

    Great post and some great comments and insights too. Regarding the intrinsic link between E2.0 and SCRM, I would indeed concur with your analogy and the comments made by those that have responded.

    As per one of your previous blogs and my comments I fully agree that E2.0 is core to the success of SCRM and the “socialisation” of other enterprise initiatives. My comments introduced Business Network Transformation (BNT) into your blog as an area/concept that had not been thought about yet with respect to SCRM, please see blog and comments for more information and context. (

    I think SCRM is one of many things that are enabled by E2.0. A small team of colleagues in Capgemini are shaping this thinking further using a model we have created and are currently refining. We have E2.0 and BNT at the heart of this model and are identifying how we use real-time business intelligence and event driven networks as well as some of the other wider Web and Enterprise 2.0 concepts to support traditional enterprise functions like CRM and SCRM.

    I am currently in the process of writing this up in more detail and collaborating with my colleagues on the exact content on this subject for a blog post on the Capgemini Blog. I will be sure to let you know once it is published.

    As well as some of points mentioned in this thread I would also like to add a couple of additional perspectives (in no particular order).

    1. CIOs/CTOs/CMOs will soon get perplexed and confused by all of the terminology so it is sensible to position the enablers like E2.0 as such for SCRM.

    2. Doing SCRM and E2.0 properly will mean a lot of business change which is likely to be scary for many execs and business sponsors. Therefore, the more that we can show the relationships between different things the easier it will be to sell since they will become enablers for each other as part of an overall new way of working and serving customers.

    3. There is a finite amount of budget to spend on things like this so we need to make sure that it is spent wisely and in an aligned way with other social initiatives which are bound to include an E2.0 element to them.

    .-= Mark Walton-Hayfield´s last blog ..MarkW_H: Been playing with Yammer over the weekend, suffering from profile-itus, I wonder how soon it will be before folks link using LinkedIn APIs =-.


    1. Mark,

      Of course, now I am dying to see what you have. I still remember when I first read the BNT links you sent me, how a light bulb went off. I would love to see where that goes in your research and work.

      I wish I could go back to my post and add the three points you made, brilliant way to explain the need for the relationship to be highlighted within the organization. I was just having that discussion last night with a colleague on how if we can make the C-levels understand how this works and it is not so scary then we can win this game.

      I agree with the way you present it.

      Thanks a lot for the read and the encouragement… looking forward to see your research when it is out.


  7. Esteban,

    Great article. The money quote for me is,

    “You cannnot have meaningful change in processes dealing with customers (providing better experiences, increasing loyalty) if you don’t alter the way you work.”

    One of the things I said in one of my CRM implemenation webinars is “If you’re doing the wrong processes, then CRM will just help you do the wrong thing faster.” It’s just as true of any technology intended to automate.

    The only way to really get everything to meet in the middle comes back to having a holistic strategy for what you want the corporation to accomplish. It’s not a marketing, sales, or customer service question but a corporate question.

    And to add in Wim, Graham and your thoughts, the purpose of all this automation has to be about more than collecting information. It’s got to be about making it collaborative knowledge that can lead to creative action that brings value to all parties (internal and external).
    .-= Kathy Herrmann´s last blog ..Building blocks in a social business strategy =-.


    1. Kathy,

      Thanks for quoting my favorite saying of all times “automation makes bad processes bad faster, not better”.

      I am working on some research on knowledge flows to talk in more detail as to what you are referring above. I think we are just beginning to realize that — and how to define knowledge to make it happen that way.

      Thanks for the read!


  8. Esteban-

    As always, relevant and thoughtful. Here’s how I see it. sCRM is another iteration of a longstanding business problem, which is essentially how does any business enterprise achieve and maintain two goals. 1. Flatten the organization to allow for what are typically siloed and insulated business functions to better integrate on a regular basis with engaged users or customers. Easy to say, hard to do. 2. Better link social marketing initiatives (or simply marketing and communications, which is essentially nothing more than a stated promise) with the businesses operational structure(s), which delivers the promise or makes it possible in the first place (or at least that is how it is supposed to be). Again, very easy to say but much harder to do. CRM, sCRM, E 2.0 or whatever label you want to put on these initiatives is the ‘glue’ which helps to keep the organization moving in a flatter direction, as well as, helps to keep marketing and operational functions in balance. Unfortunately, we live through a lot of ‘shiny penny’ hype of the ‘new-new’ marketing thing, when in reality, these are long standing organizational opportunities or challenges against which we can apply a broader range of tools in the hopes of solving an age old problem; how to be and remain relevant to customers.


    1. Steve,

      Thanks a lot for your comment. Thoughtful and well said.

      I am glad someone called out the flat organization as being a key element in SCRM/E2.0. The other missing element, but that works right alongside flatter organizations, is the change in the work module from project to task. This is also a critical component of SCRM since it allows the end-to-end processes to be executed as a series of tasks — much more in line (both in technology and strategy) with how these systems are evolving.

      No worries on “shiny, new-thing” syndrome — it too shall pass (I hope) soon enough.

      Thanks for the read!


  9. Esteban,

    I really liked your blog post. I think that bringing those two trends together is absolutely essential for a greater customer satisfaction at the end. Social creates a sense of urgency, immediacy and a greater transparency within an enterprise. Furthermore, it addresses and could possibly improve the issue with capturing the organizational knowledge. A lot of information remains unshared, thus it is soon forgotten and lost in emails and drives. An E2.0 should hopefully allow for a greater knowledge retention thus also driving best practices.


    1. krassi,

      sorry for taking so long to reply, just finding out whom i did not respond in past posts (you are in good company, and apparently i suck badly at this blogging thing).

      yes, customer satisfaction and eventually long-term sentimental loyalty — but is i all about building up to it.

      I also think that we are missing large chunks of very interesting data, but we should be able to find ways to do it better if we adopt a cloud model soon… or sonner, rather than later.

      thanks for the comments!


  10. I’m sorry, did you just compare business management to engineering? Wait, wait, my cynicism must be showing. Seriously, though, I think you are right about what needs to happen. The question is, how. Thinking back to your RoadMap series, and your well-made point about true customer centricity (and the lack thereof), I’ve often wondered how large,silo-ed, and highly politicized organizations can get there from here. I’d love to hear examples of how this process is evolving in large-scale enterprises of any type.


    1. hey, me and you both 🙂 i would love to see that sooner rather than later…

      as for engineering and business, I would never mix them or confuse them… they re both equally powerful and interesting — but, I do believe that the model of the chunnel engineering works in this particular case… call me crazy (no, not really – rhetorical).


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