Is Social CRM Compatible with Enterprise 2.0?

At a high level what vendors of Social CRM products pitch and what vendors of Enterprise 2.0 pitch is the same product.

They use similar words: collaboration, share, engagement, conversation, and social (oops, maybe not all the same words).  The concepts of what they deliver are very similar as well: collaborate with customers to build a better business, collaborate with employees to build a better business.

Unfortunately, that is where the similarities end.

As strange as it may sound, I have encountered no Enterprise 2.0 initiatives that have actually made direct contact with the customer.  Almost as if doing something for them is sufficient and talking to them would ruin it.  In spite of all the talk of customer-centricity, the Enterprise 2.0 projects are still pretty much company-centric.

The reverse of the coin is not much better.  Social CRM (or traditionally CRM) projects have been boasting of being customer centric for quite some time as well – and point to different implementations of Customer Experience Management or similar CX initiative as proof that they care about the customer.

Talk is cheap – actions don’t really show a focus on the customer.  While they do ask the customer for feedback, it is seldom used and ignored, or not even understood.  Whatever good intentions are present in trying to make CRM and Social CMR more customer-centric, vanish in implementation realities.

Hmmm.  Maybe, just maybe there are similarities we can work on.

The two initiatives want to be customer-centric, both want to be more collaborative, and both are not getting it right the first time around.  Maybe, just maybe…

Compatibility through goals? Sure.

As a matter of fact, the proposal of building a social business on the way to creating a collaborative enterprise relies on that compatibility of goals.  The concept of creating a shared platform where customers and organizations can work together to create a better process that will deliver greater value to both of them is not flawed – it has been proven to work quite well.  Organizations that work jointly with their customers, giving them access to the necessary systems as if they were employees, have reported much better results at customer-centricity.  The customer is not only put at the center, but is brought in as a member of the team to contribute and work alongside.

There is something to that idea…

Is compatibility of goals the only area where they are the same (or pulling in the same direction)?

If you start looking a little deeper, they leverage and use similar tools.  Features, bells, and whistles may vary from one camp to the other – even may be totally different.  The core, however, the basic functions are the same.

Collaboration, Integration, and Platform-driven development are the same whether you are talking about customers, consumers, partners, or employees and functions.  The job to be done may differ, but the tools used and the systems and platforms they rely on are similar.  This similarity is what has not been explored by the vendors in detail, and where a lot of the promise of collaborative enterprise shines.

We have similar goals, similar infrastructure – what about similar operating principles?

This is going to be the critical point in converging these two disciplines going forward – how they operate so that all stakeholders benefit, while extending value for the organization.

Convergence is going to be not so much about technology and goals, those are easy, but how to make it all work together.

Don’t you think?

Note: I will begin to explore this and many similar topics at the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Santa Clara on November 8-11.  Please join me if you want to talk about this.

4 Replies to “Is Social CRM Compatible with Enterprise 2.0?”

  1. Esteban

    You are right on the mark here. There is enough in common between the two that they are often confused. Yes, the same words are used in both conversions –“social”, “collaboration”, “like facebook, but for business”. And yes, many of the underlying technology building blocks are the same (monitoring, blogs, comments, forums, etc.) But they are in fact very different.

    The best way to see the difference is to cut past buzzwords and technology and get to the core — people. Ask “who and for whom?” — and then things become very clear. If you are talking to the VP/Director of customer service or marketing/sales about monitoring, reacting, and impacting customers (support or lead gen) — you are probably talking about SCRM. If you are talking to the CIO or Director of the Intranet about leveraging employee knowledge sharing, then you are probably talking about Enterprise 2.0.

    Some vendors are pitching a blend of the two spaces — which is a great way for them to leverage their tools and pitches to both conversations. But I’m not convinced this blend makes sense for most companies. The kinds of conversations I want to foster internally are not things that I’d want to share in public (for a variety of legitimate reasons). So I’m usually concerned when I hear about crossover efforts. Remember: employee communication is primarily governed by employee contract — so it’s very different from customers in a free market. This fact alone makes the motivations and implications very different between the two.

    The “who”, “for whom”, and “what” are different, but the “how” and “why” are similar. Focusing on the business problems at hand will lead you to the “who”, “for whom” and “what” questions first — and then your clients will find clarity. Focusing on technology and buzzwords leads to their confusion.


  2. Hi Esteban:

    Nice post.

    We absolutely believe that companies must be able to selectively engage different stakeholders for different purposes. At times the engagement may only involve select engineers and other times involve several different staff and all or select customers. It’s a matter of getting people together who have the appropriate context, knowledge, experience and responsibility to add value in the particular exchange. I would as go as far to say that “dumbsourcing” is a more accurate term for indiscriminate “croudsourcing.”

    If engineered from the ground up to include granular content control and access with an overriding reputation engine measuring participation, there is absolutely no reason a single system cannot be used to support and engage all stakeholders.

    Someday I suspect that consultants will make a good living consolidating E2.0 and SCRM functionality……..and it certainly won’t be cheap.

    Chuck Van Court
    CEO FuzeDigital


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