Where Are We Heading with SCRM?

This is a reaction to a Twitter “conversation” that needed more space to be understood.

Last Thursday (July 29th) in the morning (the twitter timeline is not displayed in the pictures below), Prem Kumar  Aparanji (@prem_k on twitter, and one of the early and most prolific pioneers in the Social CRM movement by way of always thinking ahead of the rest of us), twitted the following:

I thought it was an interesting question (autopoiesis refers to his post here, the definition is on wikipedia here, and Ouroboros has a definition  here — the basic concept he is tweeting about is that we stopped innovating, stopped growing the concept of SCRM) considering the heated battles for definitions and positioning we recently experimented.  He is right – we stopped moving forward with the concept.  We never did agree completely on a term and a definition, but we had some very good ones come out of it (I am going to refer to the curation that Prem has done for a list of links that are useful to compare and contrast definitions).  I think we have reached a a curious level on the way to defining a market, and said so in my tweet.

It is fairly typical for any cycle, and a market evolution is just another cycle, to reach this stage.  It is almost as if gathering steam to continue growing.  It happens when you start a new exercise regimen, a diet, even wars reach this impasse.  What is important is not that we reached this level – but how we get out of it.  As usual, friend and fellow CRMer Paul Greenberg reached a similar conclusion ahead of most of us and wrote so in this blog here.

Bottom line, where are we now? And, more important even, where are we going?  This is the critical step in the market; this is where we define the long-term success, or the flash-in-the-pan, one-hit-wonder status.

We reached the stage of Applied SCRM versus Definitional SCRM.  The conversations on what is SCRM are done; the battle for definitions are over; the “winners” and “losers” are all continuing (well, in most cases anyways).  This is no longer about what it means to be Social CRM, but what it means to do Social CRM.

I was having a great conversation with one the most grounded people I know in this market this morning, Mr. Brent Leary, who has been writing about Social CRM a little over four years (yes, I promise you that the concept of Social CRM is at least that old).  He  confirmed something I have noticed more and more lately:  It is no longer the role of the vendors to try to define what Social CRM means, nor the role of the pundits to take on that battle (if you want a great effort at summarizing where we are, Brian Vellmure collected a great resource guide right here).  It is now the time for the users to start doing and showing us what can be done, and the time for the small startups to create amazing new things for those same companies to try.

In other words, we turned the market from Social CRM (with emphasis on Social) into CRM doing Social (with emphasis on CRM).

It is the time for strategizing, deploying, implementing, failing, and succeeding in taking the first steps into Social CRM.  This is what you have to do:

Vendors – If you have a product that you want to introduce, continue to sell, or use to lead the world of Social CRM now is the time for you to differentiate your product.  The excuse we had before that there was no real market created yet does no longer work (even though we still don’t have a market).  Your customers are coming up with more detailed and complex scenarios and problems daily and they want your help to solve them.  Sure, you can resort to the old tried-and-trued model of deploying professional services to “customize” solutions — but that is not a long-term strategy.  Defining your product in terms of what it does, how it does it, and (even more important) what are the limitations is critical.  Even more important? define your Partner and Alliance Strategy so you can offer your clients and prospects more options that are known to work.

Pundits – (I am not keen on the word influencer, and analysts seems too limited of a group) – This is where the value we provide our clients is proven: it is not about selecting and rating vendors, although that is valuable as a start, but it is about collecting the stories, best practices, and pitfalls of each vendor and publish them.  It is time to work with vendors to help them create a better message, to explain better their differentiators, to highlight better what they can do.  It is time to help end-users understand the frameworks and the “stacks”, the strategic options they have to make, and how to proceed.  Stop hyping the “maybe, could be, would be” and start leveraging the “been there, done that” to help everyone.

Organizations – If you are considering jumping into Social CRM, this is a good time.  True, we don’t have as many “proven implementations” as we would like, but we already know what we are aiming for, what the tools can deliver, what the strategies and goals should be, and how to get there — and we are getting better at all that everyday.  Most aggressive adopters have already jumped in and best practices and case studies are beginning to appear.  There is sufficient information to generate a solid strategy on how to take the first steps into Social CRM.  Leverage that information, spread it around your organization, reach out for help (see pundits above, before vendors, for hype-less information), and craft your first strategy.  Whether you can deploy it or not, succeed or not, the first step is the hardest — and since this work is reiterative, you always gain experience that will help you improve next time.

Press – OK, I admit that controversy sells (or attracts eyeballs, or generates publicity – or whatever metrics you are using to measure success), but to grow Social CRM we need to forgo the controversies over what to call it, who is more right or  more wrong; forget the silly battles, focus on expanding the good that is being done and written.  Leave your enemities aside and focus on what works.  This Google blog-post is an example of a good curated article that even though it calls out the differences, takes some steps towards solving them.  And the application of those solutions (including the results – good or bad) is what the Press should cover at this time.  Maybe it is time to take a lesson from true practitioners who celebrate each other’s success as oppose to compete for a place under the spotlight.

And what are the rewards you say?

There is no Billion dollars or a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  I do believe that Gartner drew a line in the sand with their postulate that there will be a Billion dollar invested, but that is not what anyone stands to gain on this.  What we all stand to gain is a set of good case studies on how to implement Social CRM (from the practitioner’s perspective – even better!), some collective best practices to continue moving forward and doing more (and better) implementations, and a whole bunch of companies ready to take the next step: convergence with Enteprise 2.0 and build towards a Collaborative Enterprise.

Sounds like Fun! Right? What do you think? Can we just move this to the next level and start doing?

note: If you are an end-user or practitioner already doing Social CRM (planning, strategizing, or  getting started), I would love to talk to you. Please contact me.

13 Replies to “Where Are We Heading with SCRM?”

  1. Vendors: Don’t create a product that stands apart from the relationship jobs we already do. Don’t be arrogant. Integrate instead.

    Organizations: If you believe a relationship is one way, and you simply push marketing bulletins en masse to your prospects and customers, I’ll sell you Social tools, but I have nothing to teach you.

    Pundits: I have nothing to add. We can’t all be thought leaders. But, we can all help our clients with realistic implementations of the tools that extend relationships beyond the phone and email.

    Press: I think it would be stimulating to highlight how a business has been transformed. Like Extreme Makeover: Customer Centric Business Edition. The problem is that it doesn’t require all of the new hyped social tools. It requires a business that is ready to change from the inside out to become outside in.

    Sorry, same boring old stuff from moi.


    1. Mike,

      Your boring old stuff is great, don’t put it down. I particularly like your advice to organizations: it is about changing the approach, not the tools to make it happen.

      BTW, if you can find someone in the press ready to take on the makeover do let me know, i’d be glad to volunteer whatever i can provide to help on that. It would be a run-away success TV show if it can happen.

      Thanks for the read!


  2. I’m surprised that most people talking about SCRM rarely mention the end users. I would like to create a repository where end users would create, vote and share, ideas for SCRM.

    Wanna help build it and promote it?


    1. Gabriel,

      Quite and interesting idea, would love to hear more if you have put something together. Contact me via the link above, or schedule some time in my calendar via the link on the side.


      Thanks for the read!


  3. Gabriel said it right. What about the poor end users. There’s little we do for them at yet they are the coal face of the business. We pile on more and more complex applications (rarely less). We expect them to do everything faster, make less errors and understand every reason a customer would call in. Yeah right.

    We talk about SCRM yet the very tools of “SOCIAL” are a joke. Twitter is overloaded and you can’t keep up (even searching) and Facebook has major security/personal implications, real people are leaving it in droves. I would even go as far to say, other than for business, it’s full of drival.

    What it has done is probably neutralised the RELATIONSHIP part of CRM. Show me a top telecomms vendor that doesn’t have 1000+ reasons why not to choose that vendor! Or another 1000+ reasons about why that vendor is better. It stands to reason then, a consumer will treat it all as dribble (there’s just too much) and go back to old tried and tested approaches. i.e. buy it, try it, return it or keep it. I say, the word “SOCIAL” is now so over used, it’s a commodity. There you go then, someone had to say it.

    Lets focus on making the Customer Service reps/Agents better at solving the problems by going back to basics. LISTEN to the USER. Make them more efficient and make them smarter. That’s what my company does – 101.


  4. Hi, I’m Glenn and I’m an end-user. Gabriel and Francis are dead-on.

    Esteban, as an end-user, I’ve opted out of the Definition SCRM discussion. Instead of “Applied” versus “Definition,” I see it as “Tactical” versus “Strategic.” Nearly all of the discussion I encounter is about the strategic. My needs are this: I need to know how to implement SCRM within the parameters of resources and decision-making my organization has at its disposal.

    While I have learned a lot from Paul, Graham, Wim, Mitch, Prem,and you, et al, what I NEED are case studies or tactics I can apply to help add value to my organization so that it can meet the needs of its constituents. I do not need case studies highlighting the successes of vendors. We’ve got a vendor, and even in a booming economy, we’d be dancing with the same partner.

    What would be of value to me:
    1. Case studies or success stories with metrics by social media platform. (Don’t tell me I can use the same strategy for Facebook that I use for LinkedIn. I need metrics to convince the doubters.)
    2. How to integrate SCRM with traditional marketing and media. Let me say that I don’t believe that SCRM is the best solution for every customer segment. Yet.
    3. What SCRM data should be captured in a traditional CRM db?
    4. Successes in dealing with change management issues not covered in #1 and #2 above.

    In short, more emphasis on the reality of the transition to SCRM rather than the theoretical arguments about what it is or isn’t. I don’t care whether it’s called SCRM or CRM 2.0, let’s just do it!




  5. Glenn and Francis,

    i don’t want to use Esteban’s blog to promote my ideas but i do need people to join in my initiative, because i really wanna do it for them.

    i was thinking about creating a google wave, make it public and let people add their ideas and thoughts? do you know any other ways to do it?



  6. The value of this post in the comments. People are aching to do more and customers are seeking examples of theory in practice. The sticking point is where to begin. All of the basic items needed to round out your strategy are being overlooked because they are not flashy enough…but necessary for integration. The root issue is change management. Lack of change management was the source of many CRM failures. We should not repeat the same mistakes.

    Lauren Vargas
    Sr. Community Manager at Radian6


  7. Gabriel, I’m not a Google Wave user, but I’m willing to try. You can contact me through my blog.

    Lauren, Change Management is HUGE! Also, for organizations like mine where the CRM Department is not part of marketing, there is a tendency to have Marcom using social media to promote products while CRM promotes loyalty. Care needs to be taken that the two compliment each other.



  8. It is good to point out the problem. But it is better to have a direction, and better yet to have a solution.

    You provided some direction for vendors, pundits, orgs, and press, now let’s work on getting the solution. Where do you think the solution is? If there is a solution what do you think it will like? What should we do to step on the gas and accelerate?


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: