Surveying the Social CRM Industry
At the Altimeter Group, business partner Ray Wang (focused on enterprise strategy) and I (customer strategy) are undertaking 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, and to assess their capabilities and deployments. A small portion of our survey involves seeing who’s eating their own dog food, and truly demonstrating they understand the “social” aspect of social CRM — by living it.
Companies That Sell Social CRM Should Demonstrate Credibility by Living It
While critics may be quick to cite 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 plugin to your system like a new air foil on your minivan but instead is a new way of doing business. The promise of social CRM — responding, anticipating, and making the commitment to improve products and services — says that companies are truly listening to their customers wherever those customers are. Vendors that are assisting brands in bringing this promise to the marketplace 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 assessment:
- Simple sharing of social content from the corporate product page.
- Surfacing a developer or business community, and a look inside of the discussions in each community, with bonus points for integration with product page.
- Thought leadership with relevant blogs on the subject, and a gauge of their level of interaction and any Twitter accounts they may have.
- 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 some of the leading vendors in the Social CRM space are walking the talk.
[See the table after the jump...]
To pass, companies needed 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 the 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.com demonstrated it isn’t engaging in a social experience on its own product pages.
The typical enterprise-looking design of SAP and Microsoft stayed consistent with “boring” social experiences.
Although Oracle’s bland Web experience looks like it’s designed for the mediaphobes, there are links to communities and to thought-leadership blogs.
Despite the overall meager findings, there were a few social hopefuls.
Lithium* (*an Altimeter client) integrated social throughout the experience.
RightNow Technologies demonstrated thought leadership through executive blogs.
Honorable mention to Jive Software for engaging online video that captures the spirit of the social CRM movement.
We know that soon every Web page will be social, even if you don’t choose for it to be, so companies should enable features that allow Web sites to have conversations. Social CRM vendors that want to demonstrate to the market their expertise in this space should gear up to demonstrate they have the ability to practice what they preach — because, for now, it doesn’t show.
As a partner at Altimeter Group, a consultancy focused on leveraging disruptive technologies, Jeremiah Owyang (firstname.lastname@example.org) is an expert on customer strategy. His Web Strategy blog (www.webstrategist.com) examines how corporations connect with their customers using Web technologies. He can be found on Twitter as @jowyang.
[* denotes an Altimeter Client. At the Altimeter Group we practice open leadership (also the topic of Altimeter Group founder Charlene Li's upcoming book) and disclose our relationships with clients, given their permission. We hope you will trust us more if we do.]