Finding: Social CRM Vendors Don’t Walk The Talk

I first posted this on the Destination CRM blog, thanks to Josh Weinberger @kitson. Update: The below is a partial view of the industry, do see this larger index of Social CRM vendors.

Surveying the Social CRM Industry
Business partner Ray Wang (focused on enterprise strategy) and myself (customer strategy) of the Altimeter Group is undergoing a major project for a client in the nascent Social CRM arena.  We’re surveying the landscape to learn about a variety of vendors in the space, their capabilities and deployments. A small portion of our survey is to see who’s eating their own dog food, and truly demonstrating they understand the ‘social’ aspect of social crm and living it.

Companies Who Sell Social Products Should Demonstrate Credibility By Living It
While critics may be quick to dismiss the mere inclusions of a blog or community to a product landing page, the message goes much deeper. Social CRM isn’t just about bolting on a new plugin to your system like a new air foil on your minivan but instead a new way of doing business. The promise of social crm says that companies are truly listening to their customers wherever they are, responding, anticipating, and making the commitment to improve products and services. Vendors that are assisting brands with this promise to the market need to demonstrate they fully understand the ramifications of social crm –not just a keyword checklist of the buzzword du jour.

Criteria: How We Graded the Social CRM Vendors
There are four major areas of grading, from very tactical ability to 1) Simple sharing of social content from the corporate product page 2) Surfacing a developer or business community, and a look inside of the discussions in each community, with bonus points for integration with product page. 3) Thought leadership with relevant blogs on the subject, and a gauge of their level of interaction and any twitter accounts they may have. 4) A subjective look at the overall page experience in the context of a company that’s offering a ‘social experience’.

Findings: Overall, Social CRM Vendors Aren’t Walking the Talk
We’ve decided to make our findings public, at least for this part of our client deliverable to see how different vendors that are in the Social CRM space are walking the talk.

Sharing Features on Product Page (out of 1 point) Community and Integration (out of 1 point) Thought Leadership: Blogs, Twitter (out of 1 point) Overall Social Experience (out of 1 point) Final Score (out of 4 points)
Salesforce 0 0 0 .25 .25/4
Microsoft Dynamic 0 0 0 .5 .5/4
SAP CRM .5 0 0 0 .5/4
Jive (Community Platform) 0 0 .5 .5 1.0/4
Oracle/Siebel Social CRM 0 .5 .5 0 1.0/4
RightNow CRM 1 0 .5 0 1.5/4
Lithium (Community Platform)* .75 .75 .75 0 2.25/4

To pass, companies need to receive greater than a .5 in each category for a total score of 2.0 plus making Lithium the only vendor to pass.

For details, see the data, and our justifications on this Google Sheet.

Highlights From Study
The product pages are devoid of true social interaction, and none of them actually surface discussions about how the market is even talking about them. Marketing machine Salesforce demonstrated they aren’t engaging in a social experience on their own product pages and SAP and Microsoft’s typical enterprise looking design stayed consistent with ‘boring’ social experiences. Although Oracle’s bland web experience looks like it’s designed for the media-phobes, there is links to community and thought leadership blogs. Despite the overall meager findings, there were a few social hopefuls such as Lithium (Altimeter client*) who integrated social throughout the experience followed by RightNow Technologies who demonstrated thought leadership through executive blogs. Honorable mention to Jive engaging online video that captures the spirit of the Social CRM movement. We know that soon every webpage will be social, even if you don’t choose for it to be, so companies should enable features that allow websites to have conversations. Social CRM vendors that want to demonstrate to the market they are experts at this space should gear up to demonstrate they’ve the ability to do as they preach –as for now, it doesn’t show.

*Altimeter Client. At the Altimeter Group we practice open leadership (also the topic of Charlene’s upcoming book) and disclose our relationships with clients, given their permission. We hope you will trust us more if we do.

  • Hey Jeremiah — What's your definition of Social CRM? Looking on your blog but if you could point me to it I'd appreciate it. Thanks. – Michael

  • Hey Jeremiah — What's your definition of Social CRM? Looking on your blog but if you could point me to it I'd appreciate it. Thanks. – Michael

  • This best definition is from Paul Greenberg, one of the patriarch's in the CRM industry.

    http://blogs.zdnet.com/crm/?p=829

    ““CRM is a philosophy & a business strategy, supported by a technology platform, business rules, workflow, processes & social characteristics, designed to engage the customer in a collaborative conversation in order to provide mutually beneficial value in a trusted & transparent business environment. It’s the company’s response to the customer’s ownership of the conversation.”

    Or, a shorter version

    “The company’s response to the customer’s control of the conversation.”

  • This best definition is from Paul Greenberg, one of the patriarch's in the CRM industry.

    http://blogs.zdnet.com/crm/?p=829

    ““CRM is a philosophy & a business strategy, supported by a technology platform, business rules, workflow, processes & social characteristics, designed to engage the customer in a collaborative conversation in order to provide mutually beneficial value in a trusted & transparent business environment. It’s the company’s response to the customer’s ownership of the conversation.”

    Or, a shorter version

    “The company’s response to the customer’s control of the conversation.”

  • Thanks. For vendors I think there are 2 sides to that–front end and back end. I think KickApps is an example of a front end technology, e.g. creating engaging online experiences that generate data that inform other business actions. I think the traditional CRMs (SF, SAP, etc.) have their strengths in the back end side of things, i.e. processing that data.

    Any thoughts on that type of segmentation?

  • Thanks. For vendors I think there are 2 sides to that–front end and back end. I think KickApps is an example of a front end technology, e.g. creating engaging online experiences that generate data that inform other business actions. I think the traditional CRMs (SF, SAP, etc.) have their strengths in the back end side of things, i.e. processing that data.

    Any thoughts on that type of segmentation?

  • Ray (my business partner covering enterprise strategy) and I are mapping this out right now Michael, we'll have a framework to show in the near future with classifications and taxonomy.

  • Ray (my business partner covering enterprise strategy) and I are mapping this out right now Michael, we'll have a framework to show in the near future with classifications and taxonomy.

  • Ray (my business partner covering enterprise strategy) and I are mapping this out right now Michael, we'll have a framework to show in the near future with classifications and taxonomy.

  • stevepoppe

    Hey Jeremiah. Don't you see a role for technology consultants in this space? Like Capgemini and Accenture. Companies that can cherry pick the best solutions and do the implementations? Or perhaps companies like Altimeter or Dachis Group, who can do it better, faster, cheaper? I'm pretty sure the big consulting companies have their eyes on this but are slow to respond.

  • stevepoppe

    Hey Jeremiah. Don't you see a role for technology consultants in this space? Like Capgemini and Accenture. Companies that can cherry pick the best solutions and do the implementations? Or perhaps companies like Altimeter or Dachis Group, who can do it better, faster, cheaper? I'm pretty sure the big consulting companies have their eyes on this but are slow to respond.

  • Steve, Not sure you can really outsource this, or even whether it'd be wise for these companies to do that given they are in the business of enabling their customers to embrace Social CRM. Anyone can build and sell software, but IMO if a company sells a Social CRM product they must also embrace the fundamental culture and value change that comes along with. It's much more than just a tool, it's an enlightened valuation of customer conversation.

  • Steve, Not sure you can really outsource this, or even whether it'd be wise for these companies to do that given they are in the business of enabling their customers to embrace Social CRM. Anyone can build and sell software, but IMO if a company sells a Social CRM product they must also embrace the fundamental culture and value change that comes along with. It's much more than just a tool, it's an enlightened valuation of customer conversation.

  • stevepoppe

    I agree and like your thinking Louis. That said, especially with a category in its infancy, consultants are often relied upon to help sort out who's who and who's best. Being vendor agnostic and able to charge for analyzing the customer company's needs creates incentive for consultants to be in the game and for customer companies to use them. Real world..I like your take though. It's going to be an interesting ride.

  • stevepoppe

    I agree and like your thinking Louis. That said, especially with a category in its infancy, consultants are often relied upon to help sort out who's who and who's best. Being vendor agnostic and able to charge for analyzing the customer company's needs creates incentive for consultants to be in the game and for customer companies to use them. Real world..I like your take though. It's going to be an interesting ride.

  • Great insight here Jeremiah; I fully agree if a company selling a service that applies to their own web properties doesn't implement it well themselves, they are showing a lack of true commitment and passion to be the best in their industry. It demonstrates the motivation is more to jump on the bandwagon ASAP rather than to really understand and learn how this changes the game.

  • Great insight here Jeremiah; I fully agree if a company selling a service that applies to their own web properties doesn't implement it well themselves, they are showing a lack of true commitment and passion to be the best in their industry. It demonstrates the motivation is more to jump on the bandwagon ASAP rather than to really understand and learn how this changes the game.

  • biodenticaldoctor

    Great article about social CRM vendors. I never read this kind of article anywhere else. The highlights from the social CRM vendors study are very interesting.

  • biodenticaldoctor

    Great article about social CRM vendors. I never read this kind of article anywhere else. The highlights from the social CRM vendors study are very interesting.

  • Christopher Coulter

    The fact of a software provider not “practicing what they preach” is pretty much the norm, yet such doesn't follow that their product won't fulfill your needs. The dynamics of the software industry are differing than the dynamics of a warehouse, retail, logistical house or manufacturer. And just because there is a hypocritical element, still doesn't mean what they say has no value.

    The real value of a CRM system is how it fits into and ACTUALLY helps your workflow and end-results, some vague arbitrary social metric is really irrelevant. Actually the more “active” the community, the less desirable, as you shouldn't have to rely on the community for support, you want real service, and now, as companies like Oracle and Microsoft speak pretty much directly to customers, having no time for idle chatter. Choosing a CRM provider is a research project slash lawyer-fine-print endeavor, social-interaction quibbling be it not.

  • Christopher Coulter

    The fact of a software provider not “practicing what they preach” is pretty much the norm, yet such doesn't follow that their product won't fulfill your needs. The dynamics of the software industry are differing than the dynamics of a warehouse, retail, logistical house or manufacturer. And just because there is a hypocritical element, still doesn't mean what they say has no value.

    The real value of a CRM system is how it fits into and ACTUALLY helps your workflow and end-results, some vague arbitrary social metric is really irrelevant. Actually the more “active” the community, the less desirable, as you shouldn't have to rely on the community for support, you want real service, and now, as companies like Oracle and Microsoft speak pretty much directly to customers, having no time for idle chatter. Choosing a CRM provider is a research project slash lawyer-fine-print endeavor, social-interaction quibbling be it not.

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  • CRM comes down to communication. People want to know the company they are dealing with is made up of real people. Not just a voice recorded on an answering machine or a website created to just to sell their product. People want to connect even for a moment and know that a company appreciates their business. Mort importantly the company will listen if there is a problem. If you are a vender selling CRM you need to show that you can first communicate with your client before you should be let in to help that company with their clients.

    Collette

  • CRM comes down to communication. People want to know the company they are dealing with is made up of real people. Not just a voice recorded on an answering machine or a website created to just to sell their product. People want to connect even for a moment and know that a company appreciates their business. Mort importantly the company will listen if there is a problem. If you are a vender selling CRM you need to show that you can first communicate with your client before you should be let in to help that company with their clients.

    Collette

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  • jenpage

    Great stuff, Jeremiah. I'm a relative newcomer to the Social CRM space — I moved to RightNow Technologies through the HiveLive acquisition — so I'm in the process of digesting everything. I love that you're covering this topic. I agree that most of us aren't quite there yet when it comes to eating our own dog food. But RightNow may be a little further along than you think. Under your second criterion, we have very active communities for both customers and developers (discussion/support, IdeaLab, tutorials, documentation, resources… all linked into the underlying knowledge base — interesting self-learning technology in its own right, by the way). And under your second criterion, I'd point out that we're using the new Cloud Monitor app to handle support issues on Twitter and other social channels. There's certainly a long way to go, but I've been pretty impressed with the thoughtful, deliberate approach RightNow is taking.

    Definitely a useful assessment – thanks!

  • jenpage

    Great stuff, Jeremiah. I'm a relative newcomer to the Social CRM space — I moved to RightNow Technologies through the HiveLive acquisition — so I'm in the process of digesting everything. I love that you're covering this topic. I agree that most of us aren't quite there yet when it comes to eating our own dog food. But RightNow may be a little further along than you think. Under your second criterion, we have very active communities for both customers and developers (discussion/support, IdeaLab, tutorials, documentation, resources… all linked into the underlying knowledge base — interesting self-learning technology in its own right, by the way). And under your second criterion, I'd point out that we're using the new Cloud Monitor app to handle support issues on Twitter and other social channels. There's certainly a long way to go, but I've been pretty impressed with the thoughtful, deliberate approach RightNow is taking.

    Definitely a useful assessment – thanks!

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  • jhickman

    A vendor that is walking the walk is BroadVision, with the innovative Clearvale enterprise social networking offering. http://www.clearvale.com and http://www.broadvision.com. It's very powerful, IMHO.

  • jhickman

    A vendor that is walking the walk is BroadVision, with the innovative Clearvale enterprise social networking offering. http://www.clearvale.com and http://www.broadvision.com. It's very powerful, IMHO.

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  • I've been seeing demos and integrated social media is indeed coming into the platforms – and/or available through integration. Yet if you google “SCRM vendors” – comes up null. “Social CRM” comes up a bit better – and you coincidentally have the best list – http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/2009/12/08/l… – but outdated. I know of a number of SCRM platform vendors not on this list. Such is nature of flat lists.

    I don't get it – If vendors are “doing it” (aka SCRM) – why aren't they marketing better? Put your back behind your product I say and let the market carry forward the feature evolution with new clients, and evolved case studies illustrating their methodologies in the flesh as well.

    ==

    While excellent start, I think your list needs honing (too broad – customer community alone does not count as SCRM, I think) – Maybe a hosted backend database to allow for continued curation/evolution as the market evolves? JIRA could be used easily. Maybe also idea voting to allow it to grow. (JIRA or else).

    Happy to help you in making this happen, if keen. Could evolve to a great resource.

  • Jean-Marc

    My bigest frustration must be the companies that say, “we need CRM today!” and then expect results tomorrow. Like, I met my wife today and married her tomorrow??? The whole point of CRM (in it’s myriad forms) is to very simply put the greengrocer, Louis, who served me countless milkshakes (and the occasional sneaked cigarette) when I was at school, back on our street corner.
    We ceratinly have the technology (sometimes too much…) – but do we understand the correct intent and heart to listen? Personally speaking – I say marry right first time – why ‘divorce’ a hundred times – it’s damaging to the soul and darn expensive.

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