The SCRM-E2.0 Convergence: Train Wreck or Chunnel?

On Tuesday January 12th we had discussion on the convergence between SCRM and Enterprise 2.0.

My introduction to the topic summarized what I see as the main issue: SCRM and Enterprise 2.0 are heading in the same direction (customer-centricity), talking about the same issues (engagement), using the same technologies (collaboration), and solving similar problems (culture, politics, adoption) — yet, we pretend we are talking about two very separate, different things. Not only are they very similar, but whether you are collaborating internally among users, or externally with clients, without reaching out to the other constituency it won’t work.  Clients and users are closely tied in a Social world.

The most surprising thing was the answer to a simple question: who among the SCRM practitioners and implementers in the panel and the audience had enabled internal collaboration to support the SCRM changes they had adopted? Among 35-40 people, only one hand went up.  This was reinforced by the avoidance of the concept as I tried to ask more direct questions to that effect – when I asked what should an organization do to support the changes brought on by Social Media adoption and by SCRM implementations, the answer went back to implementing SCRM and the changes it brought to customers.  Although the audience was mostly SCRM, I am sure if I were to ask the E2.0 crowd what  changes they made to their customer-facing processes to reflect the internal changes I would get a similar answer (crickets).

Seriously? No changes necessary?

If this the current state of the convergence, we got lots of work to do to make it happen.  My prediction for 2010 as the year it begins the liftoff may have been a bit ahead of its time (a comment someone in the audience made following the event).

There is no way that either one of the two movements will succeed without the other.  You cannnot have meaningful change in processes dealing with customers (providing better experiences, increasing loyalty) if you don’t alter the way you work.  And altering the way you work without having a significant impact in how you deliver to the client makes almost as much sense (improved collaboration with no effect on delivery).

It is simple, the two shall meet and move forward together for organizations to embrace being social.  No other way around it.

I was searching for an analogy to conceptualize where we are.  I thought of two trains running on the same track, facing each other, full speed ahead.  We see them going to crash — yet we cannot warn them, or alter their course, or avoid the crash.

As I was thinking more and more about it I realized that it is a poor, albeit sensationalist, representation of what the convergence can bring.  Sure, both camps would prefer to have this representation of independence and momentum and a separate end goal.

But it is not like that at all.  The Convergence is more like building the Chunnel.

The underground tunnel between UK and France was built simultaneously digging from both sides.  Each one of them had similar problems to solve, and unique problems to solve.  They both did the best they could to keep the common goal in mind: meeting in the middle.  Now, if we can make two tunnels starting from opposite ends about 50 kilometers apart meet in a specific point in the middle — I am sure we can make two strategic solutions meet halfway and deliver an engaged, customer-centric organization – right?

The Convergence - If it happened once, it can happen again...

I am planning a series of weekly posts for February 2010 that will explore in more detail how to make it happen.  Let me know if you want to chat, converse, or collaborate on that.

What do you think? Possible? Plausible? Doable?  Would love to hear your thoughts…

My Foray into Enterprise 2.0

I am a glutton for punishment, apparently.  Not only I have not learned from diving into Social CRM early on, but I am trying the same fate now with Enterprise 2.0.

Why? Convergence.

If you remember, this is one of my key topics for 2010.  No, we will not witness convergence between Social CRM and Enterprise 2.0 in 2010.  However, the smart organizations will start their move towards it in 2010.  And they will make inroads.  This is a three-to-five year trend that will gain momentum between now and 2012.  The road is long, and lots of changes await.  The most traditional path to convergence is a two-to-three year phase just to lay the groundwork and the foundation for it.

How do I know?

Because we did it before — and we will do it again.  Each time we have two “revolutionary” strategies deployed in the enterprise, seemingly in a collision course, they end up working together.  Recent examples are knowledge management and content management, bricks-and-mortar commerce and ecommerce, and accounting systems and ERP.  I am sure you can think of other examples from your organization.

Convergence is their future.  I highlighted it in my Roadmap to SCRM series, and talked about it since then in other posts.

What is my entry into the world of Enterprise 2.0? Two events:

  1. I am doing a panel on Convergence of  SCRM and Enteprise 2.0 this coming Tuesday at 6:30 PM in Mountain View.  I will have some great panelists on stage, but people like Susan Scrupski, Nenshad Bardoliwalla (added 01/11/2010),  and Sameer Patel thought-leaders for enterprise applications  and members of the Enterprise 2.0 Adoption Council will be in the audience as well.  An excellent opportunity to chat and interact with the top minds in SCRM and Enterprise 2.0 live.  If you are in the area, just come on by!
  2. I submitted a proposal for a session on convergence for the Enterprise 2.0 in Boston in June.  I am going to lay out the idea of convergence, a roadmap, and the issues to consider while en-route.  I am collaborating with Mark Tamis who has a great deal of experience in Enterprise 2.0 topics and will keep me honest.  I have a favor (well, shameless plug actually) to ask you.  Yes, your vote (please vote) will count for sure (please vote) and I will appreciate it (please vote) — but beyond that, could you please let me know via the comments section in that site what your thoughts are?  (please vote) What should we cover? What should we leave out? Are we on the right track?  (please vote) Are we way off?

The next post here will be on Wednesday, following the panel, with my impressions and notes from the event.  I want to use this platform to start the discussion on Convergence and get a sense of where to go next. Does it make sense?

Where should we head next to cover Convergence? I’d love your opinions and comments…

Let's Call a Spade a Spade (and Social Media a Band-Aid)

It seems that 2010 is the year where Social Media really takes off; everybody is writing about how in 2010:

  • You will definitely be able to get an ROI from your Social Media investment
  • Social Media is going to take off
  • You can craft your Social Media strategy and make it stick
  • Your Senior Management will finally recognize the value of Social Media
  • Social Media will change your organization/change your business functions/make you money/save you money

I am not linking to any of them because they are all so horribly wrong on their assertions that Social Media is what matters that I don’t want their authors to think I am singling them out.  This is an industry-wide problem.

Let’s get it straight:

Social Media is about tools and tactics, you can never set a strategy for it, and it has very short term life and results.

Social CRM is about strategically setting long-term goals for working better with your clients, and improving your organization in the process.

Social Business is the long-term, strategic process of reinventing your organization to collaborate with employees, partners, and customers.

I have been accused of spending too much time on definitions and splitting hairs on terms.  Why do I insist?  Let me explain with an example.

Let’s say you propose to use Social Media (tools and tactics, Twitter for example) for Customer Service.

You do an ROI calculation that says you should be able to recover your expenses within three-to-four months by reducing the number of calls into your call center; you are going to answer X percentage of them via Twitter.  You get approval from your management and you implement it.  You equip four-or-five agents with Twitter accounts, deploy software for social media monitoring, Twitter management tools, and create social media governance policies.

Slowly you begin to listen to the streams; you engage and interact with customers.  You have become social — or have you?

Within six-to-nine months you solve some of the inquiries and problems that come in via Twitter, but slowly begin to notice that for most of them there is more than Twitter can provide (it is still 140 characters and limited patience from customers – right?).  You create a process to escalate the large number of interactions back to the call center (or contact center, or online).

Wasn’t that what you were supposed to eliminate or reduce?

You are effectively doing two things: upsetting your customers by not solving their problems via their chosen channel and overwhelming your established systems with more interactions than before (it is called hidden demand, customers that would have ignored their issues but are coming through now because of the channel selection – in this case Twitter).

Your ROI is slowly eroding, your simple solution is getting complex, and your Social Media “strategy” is going down the drain.  If you did a good job, you have metrics you established before you started that are showing you this.  Otherwise, it will take you longer to notice the failure.

What happened?

You confused Social Media (channels) with Social CRM (business strategy).

This is what caused the precipitous failure of multi-channel CRM when we first started with it.

I wrote this as a comment to a post I read earlier this week and I think it is valid at this point in the discussion.

Social Media (used to engage customers and to listen to them, maybe even act without impacting the biz operations).

Social CRM (using the feedback to improve operations, impact the business, change the relationship).

The relationship between these two and loyalty is also telling.

Social media can, and usually does, affects short-term, rational loyalty. It does not, however, have much impact in long-term loyalty and it does not do much for the biz (other than good PR). It does set a precedent, so the biz has to be constantly on its toes to perform similarly across the interactions. As you can see, if the biz was not changed to accommodate the necessary changes to process, it may (and probably will) falter at a later time — which will destroy the rational loyalty.

Social CRM, on the other hand, impacts the long-term loyalty. You are making changes to your processes, to your business, and creating  historical-based two-way conversation with your customers. These are the basic elements of building a long-term loyalty with them. (text removed that pointed to specifics of post, not relevant to our discussion)

Social CRM is a long-term strategy that while it leverages Social Media does not depend on it. It is more closely tied to a Social Business strategy and the impact on the business goes beyond 2010 — even 2012 probably. Sure, you can adopt the idea and begin the planning and deployment this year, but the truth value of the implementation won’t show for a couple of iterations (similar to what we experienced with regular CRM). It could be shorter – if you leverage you existing CRM investment… but that is another discussion.

Enough preaching — where am I going with this?

You have to understand the relationships between Social Media, Social CRM, and Social Business and focus your efforts where it matters.

Let’s use another example.  You are losing customers because you did not adopt a Social Media “strategy” yet.  This is a rather massive and fast loss, comparable to an arterial bleed.  Gross, but please follow along…

Social Media is nothing more than a band-aid, similar to doing customer service via email or adding ecommerce without really thinking it through.  Sure, you get something quickly done and out of the way, but if you are bleeding out of an artery a band-aid won’t stop the bleeding — or save your life.

Social CRM is a strategy, but specific to a particular area (working with customers).  It forgets the rest of the organization – but more importantly also the role of the customer beyond the front-office functions.  It does serve a mid-term purpose – but is the equivalent of putting some gauze and pressure to the arterial bleed — you can stop the bleeding, but the artery still needs repair.

Social Business is the vascular surgery that will repair the arterial walls, ensure that circulation is working properly, and there is no loss of function.  This is your goal: to stop and repair the arterial bleed – rather the profuse loss of customers and do it in way that there is not further loss.

You may not like the example (hey, the wife is a doctor – what can I say) but the concept is well explained that way.  You cannot put a band-aid on a life-threatening problem and expect it to work.

What do you think?  Am I too focused on definitions? What would you change to my proposed model (other than using a not-so-gory example)?