Thursday, November 19, 2009

CRM = 'Collaboration, Relationship Management' ?

I was following #df09 day 1 tweets from Dreamforce 09, the annual Salesforce.com 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'? :-)

14 comments:

Paula Thornton said...

The first question would be, did the tools change? The second question would be, who's collaborating with whom? The third question would be, do customer want to collaborate? The fourth question would be, where's the conversation in all of this (if markets are conversations)?

Wim said...

Hi Sid,

From where I stand Social CRM will and must always center around Customers and their desired outcomes. Collaboration between the "roles" is an important means to that end, but it is not the end itself.

Furthermore if you take a close look at "Collaboration Relationship Management" you will see it doesn't work from a language point of view (managing relationships with "the" collaboration??). Change it to "Collaborative" and it does. But this doesn't change what I stated in the 1st part of my comment.

Marc Benioff did a nice attempt to get some attention. Worked too (or you would not be writing about it, like others have too). It will not stick though.

And that raises the question: how social business-like is it to create sound bites, that do not stick, to push for attention? How effective will that be for carrying forward the core-message?

Good post!
Wim Rampen
twitter.com/wimrampen

Anonymous said...

Sid,

Interesting question - but why do we need to replace? Replacement itself is against the idea of collaboration - right?

I don't see a future where one replaces the other, but see a near future where organizations realize the awesome power of communities as influences in customers lives, and they move to a two-tier model where they maintain specific transactional relationships with customers, and deeper relationships with their communities. They collaborate with the customer as a member of a community, not replacing them with a community.

I think you are asking the right question, but keynotes are the wrong place to ask them :) i have yet to witness a keynote of a vendor that is anything more than marketing and hype -- if you go beyond what the said and try to find out where the comment came from, you will see it was (more than likely) motivated by the hype of Chatter... then you will see that it is bound to change in the next speech :)

Thanks for the platform

Esteban Kolsky said...

Sid,

Interesting question - but why do we need to replace? Replacement itself is against the idea of collaboration - right?

I don't see a future where one replaces the other, but see a near future where organizations realize the awesome power of communities as influences in customers lives, and they move to a two-tier model where they maintain specific transactional relationships with customers, and deeper relationships with their communities. They collaborate with the customer as a member of a community, not replacing them with a community.

I think you are asking the right question, but keynotes are the wrong place to ask them :) i have yet to witness a keynote of a vendor that is anything more than marketing and hype -- if you go beyond what the said and try to find out where the comment came from, you will see it was (more than likely) motivated by the hype of Chatter... then you will see that it is bound to change in the next speech :)

Thanks for the platform

Sid Mishra said...

@Paula - Many thanks for the read and you bring forth some very deep questions and I agree that all of these are vital in helping reach a 'true' and 'ideal' collaborative state and we are still far far away from that state. But I do think steps are being taken in these directions - changing tool basics is one - 'Chatter' being made part of the core platform e.g.

on Q#2 - I think collaboration will be M:M, which can lead to lot of noise and again feeds into your previous question where tools will need to make sure that all of it makes sense. On #3 I think customer's wish to collaborate is getting pronounced by the social channel, and I feel as these channels become more mainstream it will break more barriers between 'roles' with conversations enabling collaboration.

Thanks once again for the reading and comments.

Sid Mishra said...

@Wim - You bring forward a very interesting aspect Wim, differentiating between what is the means vs. an end.

I was essentially trying to think how can the 'definition' used by Marc be given some sense, so stuck to his words and added a 'comma' in between Collaboration and Relationship to make it grammatically correct :). Can't agree with you more that 'Collaborative Relationship Mgmt' is the sensible English term.

But my flight of thoughts (that made me blog this) took me from a 'social' to 'socialistic' direction and gave me a question, would social CRM take us to a place where apart from increasing the power in the customer's hands - it will give power to the poor employee, service agent and other folks on the other side as well, so that they can somehow figure in the acronym called 'CRM'? Might be a crazy thought - but these are what you get I guess when you try to justify a marketing jargon thrown during a keynote :-)

Thanks for reading and commenting, Much appreciated.

Sid Mishra said...

@ekolsky - thanks for pointing an important aspect Esteban, agree that communities will have a very important role to play.

But my idea of 'replacement' was more figurative actually (should have used a better word than replacement). I meant to indicate inclusion only and not replacement. As 'Customer' denotes only a specific 'role', my thought was that with maturity of 'social' interaction channels and philosophy - the term 'Customer' will grow to include many other roles as well (?) as it gives more power not just to the customer, but to the other 'roles' in the eco-system too.

And agree with your experience of keynotes, would be interesting to hear Marc's next speech and note a different story :-)

Many thanks a lot for your read!

Wim Rampen said...

@Sid,

I was wondering already what the comma was about.. ;-)

Your flight of thoughts may just be a bit "off" when you type it as "socialistic". Other than that you are totally right. Social CRM is all about collaboration between Customers, EMPLOYEES and partners. All have a stake in the process of value co-creation or at least should support the Customer in creating his value.

I came across an academic discussion paper just a few days ago, where the writer (a professor in Marketing) was actually advocating to change Customer Centricity into Balanced Centricity (focusing on all stakeholders in the process, incuding employees). At the same time he was talking about Total Relationship Management to further stress his views.. I'm still trying to get my head around the consequences of all that, causing my writers block on my own blog ;-)

Did I not already mention?: Good Post!

VenkatR said...

hi sid,

Collaboration was never missing in CRM - technical, process or people wise. Else CRM would not be where it is today in a CIO's mind. While I do agree that CRM by itself has not done that great, renaming it would be stretching it a bit too far. Why you may ask.

To that I pose another question on the maturity of CRM in today's business context in multiple industries across multiple sectors. I wonder if it has even crossed 40%(? you are welcome to add a new number here?). CRM is enabled by technology and technically efficient ways of 'collaboration' is being made possible no doubt. SFDC is on a high here. But, you would tread on the path of renaming it when the maturity levels are high enough for the next innovation in the space are wanted.

What we are looking at in the near future, let's say 5 years(?) is convergence! Be it CRM, SCRM, MDM, or analytics lets put it as BI. The ecosystem cannot afford one more silo and will look at consolidation. My 2c on a post which provoked me to think.

Sid Mishra said...

Thanks for your comments Venky, and glad to know that the post provoked you to think.

I agree that collaboration has been present in CRM, its basic acronym itself ontains 'relationship' which surely has a collaborative component to it. But my post was attempting to point to the new 'social' component that is taking collaboration in CRM to dizzying heights by opening the floodgates via new channels. And the thought I was trying to convey was whether it will be strong enough to break all internal barriers and take CRM to a new definition or TRM as Wim has pointed above. But this is just a future possibility that I wanted to present.

Not sure if I got your comments on 'maturity' of CRM, I believe you're indicating CRM implementation failures, to which I agree, and digging reasons for those will be a separate discussion altogether. But again, I feel social 'collaboration' could also act as one of the fixes for making CRM implementations successful. As various silos - business, IT, Implementor, Vendor - not collaborating in the true sense has been one of the key reasons for limited success or failure of such initiatives.

You make a good point regarding 'Convergence', and I think I'm pointing to the means vs. you to the end. I feel 'Collaboration' will be a key enabler for possible convergence as you've pointed - be it across roles as I've noted or across various enterprise applications as we know them.

Many thanks for your read!

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