Archive for December, 2009

Making Your Blog Mobile: Testing the Web Strategy iPhone App


Experimenting With Mobile Apps
It’s clear that content can become more contextual and personalized as it transects with location based devices.  A few weeks ago the folks at the company MotherApp, created a “Web Strategy iPhone App (download in iTunes)” to take on the go. This isn’t just a “m.” mobile website that shows essential content minus heavy graphics, this is a true iPhone app, with the native interface of Apple products, see screenshots below. I’m not the only one, they created the app for Tim Ferris (iTunes), Guy Kawasaki (iTunes) and Brian Solis (iTunes) and others.

Screen shot 2009-12-14 at 6.36.57 AM
Above: Screenshots of the Web Strategy iPhone App, featuring latest Tweets and Options

Screenshots of the Web Strategy iPhone App
Above: Screenshots of the Web Strategy iPhone App, featuring latest blog posts details and summary of posts

Mobile Based Apps Offer Content On The Go
The content can be accessed on an iPhone, even if there’s no internet connection, the content is downloaded. Secondly the content is in a clean Apple native user interface making it easier to read and navigate, rather than some clunky “m” looking site. Also, you can serve up a variety of content sources related to your brand. Also, the app has location based content, I’m looking at Brian’s app, and it can serve up Fan comments based on location (it asks you for your current location, first). In the future, it would be interesting if two fans of Brian Solis’s app would be signaled to each other they are in proximity, resulting in unique engagements. Brian’s app links directly to his amazon page, where his books (products) are available for sale.

Brian Solis’s Apps Requests To Access Your Location

Brian Solis’s Apps Filters Fan Wall Shout Outs By Proximity.

Conversion: Brian Solis’s App Promotes His Books, With Links to his Amazon Store.

What’s the downside? The URLs and comments are visible, only my voice. In the future, I’m sure these will be native into the app, so the community can talk back. The barriers to entry are still high, you’ll need to find an app developer to build this for your iPhone or other mobile device.

Apps for Events and Corporate Conferences
It’s not just personal brands, I recently noticed the Forrester Consumer Forum iPhone app that listed out the schedule, top topics “What’s hot” based on attendee votes (I think) and the ability to create a schedule of tracks to attend. LeWeb has the most impressive event iPhone application, with links to previous videos, session list, news, maps, and speaker roster. Nearly the entire event website was ported to the device on the go.

Forrester’s Consumer Forum App Highlights the “Hot” sessions. No doubt, of course, it’s Josh Bernoff.

LeWeb IPhone App Streams Archived Videos

Key Takeaways

  • Expect majority of top blogs to have mobile apps within the next few months, at first they will be custom created, then a platform will emerge allowing them to quickly ported to multiple platforms (blackberry, droid, etc).
  • This platform will emerge that will create this blog network, and new advertising opportunities will emerge who are able to cascade the information to the mobile devices. Players like Federated Media, Blogher, should move quickly.
  • Content will become location-based, as blog posts, tweets, and other content is based on a specific area (a foodie blog, reviewing restaurants in Mission district, SF) the content will auto-surface to the application when needed.
  • A standard will be set for all conferences and events to have a mobile based event that encourages members to find out about sessions, find other attendees, and even tweet from it.

I’ll continue to experiment with the Web Strategy brand in a variety of mediums, to test, and report back to you what works and what doesn’t.

Meet the Arabic Blogosphere: Read The Comment Section


The purpose of this post is two-fold: 1) To share my keynote presentation about blogging strategy, 2) Help connect the Arabic bloggers with my Western business readers and community.

I’m in amazing Doha, in the nation of Qatar, who’s sponsored my travel to speak at the ictQATAR and my friends at ForumOne event about blogging.  Qatar wants to reach out and connect with the world, I’m excited to be one of those who can help bridge.

Blogging conferences in the US were popular a few years ago –and have given way to Facebook conferences, and now Twitter or last week’s “Real Time” focus at LeWeb. The Middle East has been evolving quickly in the blogosphere, and this is a real focus for individuals, organizations, institutions, and governments to connect with others, and let their voice to be heard.m Embedded above, you’ll find my presentation, which has international examples of bloggers.  It has a section with data (sourced cited) and then I talk about where I see blogging headed into the next era. The purpose of this event is to educate local bloggers on how to most effectively use blogging tools to connect and reach to the outside world, so I’ll give a hand, and try to connect the community right here on this blog.

Arabic Bloggers, Kindly Leave A Comment
In the spirit of community, in this case, global community, at the end of my keynote, I’m suggesting that the attendees leave a comment on this post, to shout out to the world, leave a URL, and a few sentences on what they focus on.

Web Strategy Community, Please Welcome Them
My hope is that these Arabic bloggers will not only connect with each other, but also connect with my readers in the business world.  If you’re a regular reader of the Web Strategy blog –please welcome them, surf their blogs, and share about yourself if you’ve similar interests.  We recently installed Disqus so we have threaded conversations –making it easier to keep track of multiple discussions.   Be sure to return to this post in the future, in order to see how the conversation developers over time.

To me, success for this project is to see at least two people connecting with each other in which they can develop a meaningful relationship for understanding, business, or friendship.   Blogs, a simple technology, that can bridge people around the world.

Update: It’s a few hours after the conference, and I’ve had time to reflect, and connect with other bloggers that attended. I’m told this was the first time bloggers were able to get together in Qatar, and some met for the very first time face to face. It was an privilege to be part of this historical event, which was organized and sponsored by ictQatar, ForumOne, and the many bloggers who attended. Really an honor, I hope to return in the coming months, this is one of the highlights in my career, and a milestone for the social web. Also, do see their latest blog, which was launched at the event, both in Arabic and English. The Gulf Times featured the event on the front page (pic).

Slides: Real Time Web Is Not Fast Enough– Three Strategies For Business


I’m about to present at LeWeb, Europe’s largest internet conference with this year’s focus on “Real Time”.  With information moving even quicker, there’s a new strategy needed for companies to adopt.  Since the accompanying slides are best used with narration, here’s the gist of my presentation:

Real time data is exploding at a rapid pace with the influx of status features and mobile devices.  This brings new opportunities for people to get information when they need it and opportunities and the companies that want to provide contextual information.  Yet, despite the opportunities, most companies are unable to keep up with the “Slow time” web as it is.  In fact, those that can’t keep up risk missing opportunities, or worse –heading off detractors before they become mainstream.  To best leverage real time data, companies must adopt three strategies:  1) Start listening now, and quickly offer social personalization features, 2) Develop an unpaid army of advocates who can respond when you’re not there, and 3) Start to invest in systems –like social CRM– that can support their overall strategy.

Looking forward to sharing more on this topic as it develops during 2010, I’ve written more about this topic and the intention web.

Also, thanks to Carmen of Rexi Media, who is a great coach on presenting, her resources for presenters, such as the iPhone app are helpful for any speaker.  Update: Here’s a video of my presentation.

List of Companies Providing Social CRM Offerings


Social CRM: A Growing Segment
post on Social CRM vendors not walking-the-talk raised awareness of this nascent space.  However, not everyone was thrilled with the effort, as CTO John Moore gave us an A for effort but a C- for results, and Kim Kobza, the CEO of Neigborhood America (they were an early adopter) left a comment on John’s post suggesting we missed the mark (also, SAP ‘s passionate team strongly represents).  Although we stand by our scoring, both John and Kim are right, our evaluation yesterday was only on a small subset of the industry, but a manageable starting ground, as we continue to unearth the variety of players.

Tracking the Market with an ‘Industry Index’
For a few years ago, I’ve created what I call my posts called the Industry Index (see all) lists to track companies in any particular vertical, it helps me, vendors, and buyers to track the space.  I expect this space to rapidly increase in size as social channels will be bolted onto CRM vendors, and many brand monitoring and community platforms are adding workflow, triage, and tracking capabilities. The purpose of this list is to quickly capture the vendors participating in this space, and to acknowledge those that were not on yesterday’s review, I expect there to be many more vendors who leave a comment, which we can quickly add to this list.

We owe it to the market to try to include as many as possible, although it’s going to be very difficult as this space quickly grows. So first, let’s try to put some scope around this space with a definition.

Social CRM Definition
We prefer Paul Greenberg’s definition of Social CRM, which he summarizes as:

“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.” (also read his 2009 review of this space on ZDnet)

It’s a broad definition, but the key criteria he lists out are enough for me to go on.

List of Companies Providing Social CRM Offerings: (34 vendors total)

Traditional CRM Vendors offering Social Integration (11 vendors)

  • ACT!:  This barely fits the scope of social crm, but ACT! allows a single individual to manage multiple types of information, including social, however if this product was extended across an enterprise, it fits the quota.
  • BatchBlue: While not a ‘traditional’ CRM like many of the others listed below, has traditional sales automation features, but also connect with existing social graph data, think social aggregation of contact lists.  After watching the demo, it looks like you have to manually enter feeds of contacts, rather than auto-finding data from social graphs by scraping.
  • Buzzient: Offers a CRM platform that provides social media analytics that can be used for web marketing, customer tracking, or reporting.  They have partnerships with Salesforce, Oracle, and SugarCRM.
  • Microsoft Dynamics:  Offers Accelerators (here and here) that “Allows business professionals to monitor and analyze customers’ conversations on social networking sites, and as a result, provides real-time status updates about their products and services” (thanks Menno, who writes on the topic) They are also partnered with Neighborhood America
  • NetSuite:  Offers social CRM with a partnership with InsideView and has Twitter integration (submitted by Paul Greenberg)
  • Oracle Siebel Social CRM: Promises the ability to provide insights based on the buying behaviors of similar customers, as well as shared content to be used between sales teams.
  • RightNow CRM: Offers several features in their suite such as Support Communities, Innovation Communities, Cloud Monitoring, and Social Experience Design. Rightnow recently acquired Hivelive an enterprise community platform.
  • Salesforce: Offers acces to Social Networking like Facebook and Twitter. Salesforce, like SAP is importing the Twitter “firehose” feed, and has offered social features like Q&A, and social networking like Chatter, and has lightweight LinkedIn integration.
  • SAP CRM: Imports the Twitter firehose feed, and
  • Sugar CRM: Offers “SugarCRM Cloud Connectors connect via Web Services to leading third-party data service providers such as Hoover’s, JigSaw and LinkedIn”
  • We Can Do Biz: Offers traditional CRM features (although their website is a bit difficult to navigate) for SMB, and has a unique Twitter scraping feature that filters down by some level of geography and organizes records in the database.  I had a briefing with them on Feb 2010.  Added Feb 2010.

Community Platforms Offering Social CRM (5)

  • Jive Software: Community Engagement, offers data integration from Radian6, encouraging management of the discussion.
  • Leverage Software:  I recall that Leverage offers built in integration with Salesforce, but I was unable to find it on their site.
  • Lithium Technologies offers the Social CRM Suite offering features such as Community Applications, Reputation Engine, Actionable Analytics, CRM Connectivity, and Social Web Connectivity.
  • Neighborhood America: Has had a partnership with Microsoft Dynamics, read press release, (they were early on in March 2009) and commentary from Paul Greenberg on ZDNet.
  • Concourse:  Offers a variety of integration modules to a variety of apps, including a CRM module that’s prebuilt. (via pjk54)

Brand Monitoring Offering Social CRM (4)

Social Media/Twitter Clients (2)

Social Customer Experience (4)

  • CrowdEngineering:  Helps to match experts to customer problems, by using a recommendation engine and skill resource set engine.
  • Fuze Digital Solutions: Provides a broad and modular multi-channel customer care solution using a community knowledge base as its foundation.
  • Helpstream: Offers tools that allow customers to submit questions to each other, with integration into SalesForce in addition to community driven knowledge centers.  see video.
  • Parature: Offers chat-like features for support reps to interact with customers, then measures sentiment.
  • Get Satisfaction:  Is an off-domain (all the support is done on their site –not yours) community that now offers premium features that offer ability to manage discussions.

Sales 2.0/Social Graph Aggregation (6)

  • Flowtown:  Allows marketers to prioritize targets to contact by a variety of influence scores, and their social graph.  It then offers targeted email marketing based on those two criteria.
  • Gist: Offers a way to track the social behaviors of your customers and prioritize.
  • InsideView: Offers some unique offerings that mine a business social graph to provide alerts as a plugin to traditional CRM systems, Watch this lengthy demo.
  • Roving Group: Offers a product called ‘Roving Contacts’ that aggregates the social graphs and contact information from your address book.
  • SocioToo: Not the typical corporate enterprise company, this Dutch company offers a search page (and no real corporate site –by intent) that mines social graph data in public.
  • Xobni:  This cleverly named (opposite of inbox) Outlook plugin scrapes your social graph and most frequently emailed contacts improving email utility.  This barely falls within the scope of social crm, but if the data was able to export to other systems, it could start to apply.

CRM Applications and Plugins (2)

  • Appirio: Offers the ability for companies to create applications on Facebook which then marry data back to Salesforce, called Cloud Connectors.
  • SocialCRMTools: Offers integration with Salesforce that imports, monitors, and manages Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. (via John Perez)

Social Networks and Others

  • Twitter: Has made motions they plan to offer premium services to brands, that would offer verified accounts, then management-like features. The specifics are still unknown, as they sort out their business model. They have partnered with Google and Bing.
  • Google has announced real time search integration, and Bing has shown some early integrations.  While far fetched we should not completely rule them out as eventually building a dashboard for brands to manage their namesakes, advertising, and website analytics, or Google alerts.  Historically, they generate money off content created by publishers, so this actually falls in line with ‘organizing the world’s information”.

Tracking Changes:

  • Feb 12,2010: Added after a briefing, and Alterian.

Not on this list? Leave a comment, with justification why you fit in Paul’s definition with a link to your site explaining more, I’ll take a look and add to it, please be patient while I review.  Also, if you want to brief Ray and myself, please read and submit to this briefing form.

Update: Business Partner Ray Wang and I have created a more detailed matrix of this space for our clients.

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.

When Real Time Is *Not* Fast Enough: The Intention Web


Things started slow
I remember when people would go to conferences, take notes, then share them a few hours or days later.  Then in 2005-2006 I noticed people started to live blog sessions, anxious readers would refresh as the page was updated in real time –sometimes with photos.  Fast forward to Dec 2006, Twitter emerges to the early adopters and people begin to share in real-time.   Plurk, Jaiku, and then Facebook status updates emerge, followed by the enterprise vendors like SocialText, it’s not just a product, status updates are now a feature.

[The Intention Web: A Published, Anticipated Goal.]

When Real Time Is Not Fast Enough: The Intention Web
I’ll be presenting at Europe’s largest tech conference, LeWeb next week.  My topic?  When Real-Time Isn’t Fast Enough: The Future Of the Web (I’ll publish slides, later).  In particular, with event planning features, like Facebook events,, we’re starting to see people make explicity public remarks on what they want to do, when, and with who.  Welcome a startup by Mark Hendrickson formerly of Techcrunch who created this simple website that allows people to broadcast what they plan to do next using Twitter or Facebook.

Web Strategy Matrix: Asynchronous, Real-Time, and Intention Web

What It is, and Examples Opportunities Challenges
Asynchronous Web Information exchanging between multiple sets of time. People publish, someone else reads later.  Examples: News sites, press releases, websites without social features. Information with longer term shelf life can be archived and consumed. Much of today’s information is related to real time events, people want to share their thoughts and experiences, this is quickly getting outdated as social features empower real time conversations appear, regardless.
Real-Time Web Information published as it happens, often, content is consumed in real time, with the reader also broadcasting back, resulting in synchronous communication. Examples: Twitter, Jaiku, Facebook Status updates. Consumers can give instant feedback about their needs. Companies can respond to the immediate needs of customers. Excessive noise from everyone publishing their status. Companies unable to sort through noise, prioritize, and react. This problem to compound over time.
Intention Web Information that provides explicit predictions of who will do what next, although it’s not happened yet.  Examples:, Facebook events, Plancast. Update: Silicon Valley Insider writes about Tweetmeme, Topsy, Sency, OneRiot People can connect to each other, improving experience. Businesses can provide a more contextualized experience for customers or prospects using Social CRM Explicit intentions may not be true, the future is always uncertain. Companies can barely keep up with real time web –let alone predict the future.

Intention Web Provides People and Companies Opportunities
Some may call this the, anticipation web, intention web, or forward looking web, but regardless of the name, there are some unique opportunities:  1) People can now use their social relationships that have similar goals or events on their cal and improve their experience.  2) They can also identify who in their social circles are most likely going where, increasing their knowledge of top events.  3) This provides businesses with the ability to listen to provide highly contextualized offerings and experiences for those explicitly stating their intents. Once a listening strategy is developed, expect Social CRM to be in the foreground mining, organizing, and making this data actionable.

Yet Barriers Will Challenge Consumers and Companies
Yet the intent based web is also fraught with challenges for both people and companies.  1) Status updates are still getting traction.  Twitter has the media hype, but not yet the mainstream adoption, so you can’t expect the social behaviors of everyone to broadcast their future intents.  2) For those that do broadcast their intent, should be concerned about privacy and personal security.  3)  The future is always uncertain, a great degree of intention data will be inaccurate. 4) Most companies can’t even keep up with the asynchronous web, let alone the real-time web, and certainly not the intent based web.

Screen shot 2009-12-04 at 5.42.12 AM
Above: Plancast allows me to broadcast my goals which include, what, where, and when.

Screen shot 2009-12-04 at 5.41.41 AM
Above: My goals can now be published to Twitter, Facebook, or to my friends on Plancast.

Screen shot 2009-12-04 at 7.10.05 AM
Above: Community can subscribe to Paul Greenberg’s intentions, who’s set a goal to attend the upcoming SAP event.

Bottom Line: Intention Web Will Provide Consumers With Contextualized Experiences
Expect the real-time web to quickly evolve into the intention web. People will work together to share their information about what they plan to do, and improve how they work or organize. Expect Social CRM systems (Salesforce, SAP), Brand Monitoring vendors (Radian6, Visible Technologies), and Search Engines (Bing and Google) to quickly try to make predictive models on what could happen, and what are the chances. Businesses that have a physical location like retail, events, or packaged goods can use this data to anticipate consumer demand. They may offer contextualized marketing, or increase or decrease inventory or store hours to accommodate. Don’t be surprised in the future and you walk into a store with your preferred items, meal, or drink already nicely packaged for you.