June 1st, 2009 by Joshua Weinberger

CRM magazine, June 2009, cover

CRM magazine, June 2009, cover

There is no such thing as a failed experiment,
only experiments with unexpected outcomes

—R. Buckminster Fuller

This is an experiment.

I suppose you could argue that every endeavor is on some level experimental, at least at its start.

But this is truly a leap into the unknown, in just about every sense.

You may have seen our June issue by now — the Social Media Issue of CRM magazine, in which we immersed ourselves in the social media scene from cover to cover, devoting the entire month’s content to an investigation of social media and where it’s made itself felt within the CRM industry.

If you haven’t, feel free to go take a look — you can find the digital edition here. (The content itself will be available online later today.)

Go ahead. I’ll wait.

>The Interlude of Patient Humming<

Back already? Good. ‘Cause now I get to tell you about the plan for the next 30 days.

The experiment is this:

The June issue includes a chart (spread across pages 22-23).  You can see it here. (Click on the “View Full Size” button at the top right of that page.) It’s brand new, it’s never been seen before, there’s nothing else like it in the world — and we’re going to spend the next 30 days tearing it to shreds.

Well, not “we,” exactly. You.

[Details after the jump.]

So we’ve got this chart. And we’ve got these 30 days.

As the title of this blogpost implies, the experiment will involve the dissection of the chart by 30 people, in 30 blogposts, over 30 days. Each day will see the expansion of the conversation by one of a series of guest bloggers, some of whom were involved in the development of the chart. [UPDATE, 6/5, 9aET: Click here to view The Full Lineup. To access all of the #303030 posts, you can use this feed.]

(A quick aside about that — several people were cited in the issue as being “Sources/Contributors/Advisors/Collaborators,” an amalgam of credits that was intended to blur the line between people we consulted, people who provided feedback, and people whose ideas we referenced or blatantly applied to our model. As we said in the issue, I want to make very clear that none of those people necessarily agrees with the framework of the chart — some of them, in fact, may not even yet know this chart exists. They were merely in the mix during its conception, formulation, and development. You can’t blame any of them for what we’ve wrought.)

The authors of the 30 posts will have wide latitude — to focus on the chart as a whole, some portion of it, or a single detail. They’ll have the option of working in a vacuum (relying solely on the chart), or of responding to or building off earlier posts by other writers. (I hope, in fact, that other responses will pop up, elsewhere online, for our 30 guest contributors to respond to as well.)

The list of people who’ve agreed to participate reads like a roster of CRM and social media all-stars. To name just a few, in no particular order:

  • Paul Greenberg, The 56 Group
  • Mike Fauscette, IDC
  • R “Ray” Wang, Forrester Research
  • Natalie Petouhoff, Forrester Research
  • Christopher Carfi, Cerado
  • Sheryl Kingstone, Yankee Group
  • Denis Pombriant, Beagle Research Group
  • Brent Leary, CRM Essentials
  • Adam Sarner, Gartner
  • Ross Mayfield, Socialtext
  • Anthony Nemelka, Helpstream
  • Umberto Milletti, InsideView
  • Oliver Marks, Oliver Marks & Associates

By the end of the 30 days — that is, by the end of June — we’ll have a radically different view of the chart and its contents.

Look back for a moment at our June issue. Did you see page 21? It’s the one entitled “Who Owns the Social Customer?”…

That’s a trick question, of course. No one owns the social customer. (Or, to be more lofty about it, everyone does.) The entire point behind the marriage of CRM and social media is that it empowers the individual and amplifies conversation.

But that doesn’t mean you’re absolved of the responsibility to maintain the relationship. In fact, the value of social media carries along with it a certain amount of risk: Embracing its full potential means embracing transparency, and engagement among transparent individuals—whether they’re employees, vendors, suppliers, customers, or prospects—involves far more complexity than the engagement you may have grown accustomed to. In other words, you may find yourself working harder than ever to master the nuances of relationships.

…[T]his is where things start to heat up. When you turn the page, you’ll see something you’ve never seen before: a visual representation of Social Media Maturity, developed with the input of some of the industry’s top thought leaders. It’s a lead-in to a series of features examining the effect that social media has already had on strategy, sales, marketing, and service—and it’s the beginning of our social engagement with you.

We don’t expect the graph—or these features, or even this issue—to represent the definitive word about social media and CRM. Quite the contrary: This is just the starting point, and we fully expect to see this chart, and the very nature of social CRM, shift as the industry finds its way. The reality is that social technologies and channels are affecting every aspect of business, in ways we may not even yet realize. But the floodgates are open now, and there’s no turning back. Social CRM is destined to change everything you thought you knew about your customer relationships. It’s OK if that sounds a little bit daunting. Just remember: We’re all in this together.

Here’s the introduction that appeared in print alongside the chart :

Take a deep breath, because this is where things get interesting. Five years ago, in CRM’s January 2004 issue, we presented what the customer-centric company should look like. By now, you should be well versed in the concept—in fact, we’re ready to ask you to move beyond it. We’ve put the core of that 2004 graphic—we’ll call it CRM 101—at the center of this one. Each of the three surrounding concentric bands represents a time frame—today, three years from now, and five years from now—and describes how leading-edge organizations might embrace social media in each.

In the spirit of social, we opened up the design of this chart to outside sources; it’s impossible to achieve unanimity, so we aimed for consensus. We openly reference the work of others, as transparency dictates. (The listed sources shouldn’t be held responsible for these findings,but they have our gratitude for their input and insights.)

Some people call this CRM 2.0, some call it social CRM—but the terminology isn’t the point. What matters is your engagement, and your commitment to advancing your knowledge of and familiarity with the powerful tools and technologies available today and coming tomorrow.

There’s more information in this graphic than we have space to describe, so please visit us online for a more detailed explanation. We expect to hear from you, and we expect this graphic to be a living, breathing document that evolves over time, just as CRM always has.

Right here, with this post and with this experiment, is where that promised explanation — and the plea for your input — begins.

It’s foolhardy — and overkill — to attempt to explain every nuance of the chart in one post; I’ll try to add more detail as the month progresses, but the idea for the moment is to give you a broad outline of how the chart works.

Let’s start by explaining the key.

1. Time Frame / Form of CRM — The chart comprises four time frames, shown by the center (“CRM 101”) and three concentric bands. As you move from the center (“five years ago”), you progress to today, three years from now, and five years from now. The clocks show the progression of time.
Beneath each clock, you see a form of CRM:

    • customer-centric;
    • VRM, or vendor relationship management (popularized by, among others, Cluetrain Manifesto co-author Doc Searls);
    • xRM (popularized by Steve Ballmer and Microsoft); and
    • ?RM (a nod to the unknown, acknowledging that CRM has changed its nature every five years or so, and the form it will take by then may be something we can’t yet predict).

Beneath that, you see a progression of “Social Eras,” adapted from the work of Forrester analyst Jeremiah Owyang. (The Forrester Research report from which that’s drawn [executive summary available here] is also the basis of a column by Jeremiah in the June issue — The Tipping Point. Also, when the report was originally released, Assistant Editor Jessica Tsai covered it over at destinationCRM.com.)

Take a moment to look at the macro view of the chart as a whole. The quadrants represent four areas of focus: sales, marketing, customer service, and public relations. Each quadrant is a distinct silo unto itself in the center; as you progress outward through the time rings, the silos begin to blur, and eventually disappear altogether, as CRM grows increasingly holistic and true integration becomes a reality.

2. Change in Capability — The chart includes seven arrows, each of which shows a particular functionality of CRM being made more sophisticated or more robust thanks to the application of (or integration with) social media.

3. Strategic Use of Social — In each quadrant, there is a series of three strategic applications of social media (denoted by the metaphorically strategic chess piece). Each series reflects an evolution toward deeper engagement.

4. Treatment of the Social Customer — Each quadrant also has a series of three levels of engaging with a customer (each level illustrated by a unique blue icon). Each series reflects an evolution toward deeper engagement.

5. Social Capability — Some of these are derived from the work of Socialtext’s Michael Idinopulos, whose “Social Software Value Matrix” can be seen here. The time-alignment sequence that runs up the middle of the chart, beneath each Time Frame clock — asynchronous, synchronous, real time — was inspired by and adapted from the work of The /Messengers’ Stowe Boyd.

The work of many others also played a part, of course — either through conversations or through research. (In addition to those already named, David Meerman Scott, Steve Mann, Esteban Kolsky, Prem Kumar Aparanji, Jesus Hoyos, Brian Solis — whose Conversation Prism and Twitterverse images have become totems — Steve Rubel, and Anthony Lye come readily to mind, but they merely represent the tip of the iceberg.) Suffice to say that if you see echoes in here of work you’ve spotted elsewhere, chances are we borrowed from that, riffed on it, or mashed it with other elements.

More detail later — for now, you’ve got plenty to soak up, sink your teeth into, and wrap your mind around. I’ll spend a little time coming up with other bodily metaphors.


As former blonde rocket scientist (no kidding I did actually have my own laser, used a high-partical accelerator to blast materails and say… “Wonder what would happen if…”) this seems kinda similar. Only this time I’m not reconfiguring mechanical properties of materials used in jet aircraft or rockets…

This experiment is more like the one Einstein would do- thought experiments… pose something – an idea and bat it around… What’s cool is that we are batting it in cyberspace. Wish Albert where here to participate. He liked to ponder about our societies constructs.

I idea of the crowd creating, storming, norming, pontificating, sourcing, collaborating and to see the patterns that merge, the coalescence of brain candy has got me pretty intrugued!

Thanks for doing this!
can’t wait for 30 days!

Comment by DrNatalie — — June 2, 2009 @ 3:50 pm

So my post for Wednesday is — CRM has never been customer-centric. I know the diagram has it listed there… but if you examine the heritage of the software- it wasn’t ever about the customer — it was about operational efficiency for the corporation.

And if customers had actually implemented analytical CRM- they’d have the data they’d needed to make CRM customer centric (i.e make changes to the business – make products better and you get less “break/fix it” customer service issues — then marketing and sales conversions are higher cuz product is better… you see the chaing of events… But most places barely got the operational in- many had to trash the installation- CRM failure rates were so B.A.D…

now on the other hand… social media- because the power is in the hands of the customer- is by nature and by design – customer focused. Will CRM vendors “get” this and build applications that are finally customer-centric?

What do you think?

Comment by DrNatalie — — June 3, 2009 @ 8:28 pm

spot-on, DrNatalie. spot. on.

Comment by christohper carfi — — June 3, 2009 @ 9:41 pm

This is a great idea – love it – and what a great line up of people (I’m biased because I know many of them).

I shared some thoughts on this a few weeks ago – at The Community Roundtable we’ve developed a similar type of framework, interestingly called the Community Maturity Model (see more info at: http://community-roundtable.com/?p=162).

My main criticism of the social media maturity model is that it seemed more like a diagram of the ecosystem and less a framework/tool for management and laying out a roadmap.

I’m looking forward to reading all the other reactions to this!

Comment by Rachel Happe — — June 17, 2009 @ 6:04 am

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