Thursday, November 19, 2009

CRM = 'Collaboration, Relationship Management' ?

I was following #df09 day 1 tweets from Dreamforce 09, the annual event, and got hooked to the live streaming keynote speech by Marc Benioff as the discussion got interesting and moved to real app demo instead of pptware. Marc announced another potentially exciting release by Salesforce - its 4th cloud- Chatter (wasn't there a better name?). But before he closed his keynote, he made an interesting statement that struck my mind. He mentioned CRM is now 'Collaboration Relationship Management' or - CRM = 'Collaboration, Relationship Management' (?). But changing description of a deeply established acronym like CRM - deserves a lot more thinking and justification I feel.

We do know that Social media and sites like Twitter and Facebook have had (and will continue to have) a huge impact on how businesses interact with their customers, who now have a new 'social' dimension to their behavior. The social phenomenon is also redefining the rules and the core definition of CRM, with more power than ever to the customer, and I love Paul's 'Twitter-size' definition of SCRM:

"The company’s response to the customer’s control of the conversation"

Point to note is that in all these (re) definitions, the 'Customer' has always remained at the center.

Now, Social mediums are promoting seamless collaboration to an enormous extent, (so would 'Chatter', I'm sure) but is 'Collaboration' going to become powerful enough to replace 'Customer' as the C of CRM? not too sure - but let's see:

Currently we have multiple 'roles' tagged to people in general in the entire ecosystem viz. Customer, Employee, Partner etc. But thinking of a scenario in the future when 'Collaboration' comes to the fore in such a big way that the need to constantly identify a person with a role tag 'Customer' will diminish. As roles become interchangeable where an employee or a partner today is a customer tomorrow and vice versa, who collaborate via social channels all this while, in whatever roles then don. Transparency increases to a level where information is accessible through open social channels always, promoting this further. It no longer remains only employees helping customer but - customers helping other customers, employee helping partners, customers helping employees - the permutations are multiple.

This will be the time when CRM = 'Collaboration, Relationship Management' with 'people' at its center, and not tagged 'roles' ...

'Social' adds a brilliant dimension to primarily extend CRM philosophy and give more power to the 'Customer', is what I understood. But if everyone in the ecosystem gets the same value - and premium value is not just bestowed to the 'customer' - as everyone is 'collaborating' and helping and networking, I guess it might result in a better equilibrium state .. and help the world get flatter.

Would love to get your thoughts and comments on this - realistic? idealistic? social'istic'? :-)