The Vendor Roadmap to SCRM – Part 1

Before we begin, two caveats:

1) When I said I would never write another series I was so sure this would not happen — then, this became too long…

2) Social CRM is not a technology, never will be.  This is the vendor complement to The Roadmap to SCRM series I wrote before — you will need technology to deploy your strategy, this is what vendors should offer you.

Sometime ago I wrote this series of posts called “The Roadmap to SCRM“, five parts (plus an extra one added for lack of clarity) that explained how organizations can build their strategy from CRM to Social CRM.  It is based on years of experience and many deployments of CRM, and it is still applicable (by the emails I get about it).  Warning: It must be adapted to your needs, it is not ready to go as is — same as CRM, there is no one size fits all.

I also talked about what vendors need to do to become SCRM-ready when discussing the recent acquisitions (Attensity acquiring Biz 360 and Lithium buying Scout Labs).  Even better, right before releasing this post (which I wrote last week and was trying to make it a complete post, not a series — before I ran out of time) I noticed that fellow deep-thinker, practitioner, and exceptional CRM-meister Filiberto Selvas wrote a similar post to this (now you get to compare, how about that?) which you should read for more perspective.

I have been mulling this post for some time and I want to talk about what different vendors are doing to deliver Social CRM ( that is the next post on this series).  Let’s get into what vendor-driven SCRM should look like…

The attention on SCRM has not been on the strategy side; it has been on the technology.  This is unfortunate, but not unexpected.  I wrestled with the concept of writing this post, I did not want to cement a notion of “what the technology for SCRM should be” in either vendors; or users’ minds, but I feel we are at a point in the evolution into a market (we don’t yet have a SCRM market, here is why) where it is necessary to do so as the direction is starting to become more clear.

First things first, what does the SCRM stack look like?

Vendors venturing into the SCRM world today come from many areas: some of them provide communities, some of them social analytics, others do — well, not exactly sure what they do, but they call it Social CRM — lots of options out there if you are looking.  Remember, though, that we are not talking about technologies — Social CRM will require changes to people, process, and technology to be implemented — and that is where the stack comes in.

You will need technology to deploy SCRM functions, no questions about it.  However, you will need to do most of the heavy work (remember CRM? customization was the hardest part of the implementation) by leveraging a platform or architecture, and building on top of that.  The stack pictured below is the core platform or architecture you will leverage to deploy Social CRM functions.  Let’s examine it a little closer…

First, let’s talk about the essence of what SCRM will bring to your company: people’s perspectives dressed as actionable insights.  The Social Evolution (of Generation C as Paul Greenberg and Mike Fauscette call it) means that people aggregate into communities.  OK, fine – they were aggregating into communities before, the concept is older than — well, older than sliced bread, for sure.  However, the social evolution brought them to use online communities and store the shared knowledge in electronic form.  This is a major, major difference.  That means we now have access to this data and we can use it.

And use it we will, that is where the second layer comes in: analytics.  We can try to dress it up as a new concept also, call it Socialytics, Social Media Analytics, or something similar — and some of the tools we use are fairly new, to correspond with the newness of the social channels — but the truth is that this is still analytics, same as before, same as in the future.  You can leverage your analytics engine, you can add a social analytics engine, or you can do both (probably what I would recommend in most cases for now).  However you do it, make sure you do it — without actionable insights, the outcome of analysing the information, there is no Social CRM.

I have written some articles on how to leverage analytics better in the Social X world, you can find them here, here, and here.

So, here comes the tricky part — this is the layer-to-be-named-later (feel free to drop some naming suggestions in the comments below).  This is where we actually take action — where the company implements the actionable insights and improves the processes, the products, the services — the experiences.  For lack of a better name right now, I will call it the Actionable Layer Unit (ALU – if you know the acronym, you are as geeky as you think — not fair to use google or wikipedia).  And even worse than the name, there is no software that you can buy to do this — this is all elbow grease basically.  You have to take the actionable insights and make something with it — else, why collect the data and analyze it?

(hint: if you would’ve followed the recommendations I made way early in the roadmap to SCRM for companies, you would already know what to do — the picture below is a reminder and I also talked about it at my Collaborative Enterprise post in TheSocialCustomer)

Finally, the missing piece-de-resistance — the cherry on top of the sundae of sorts.  The integration layer.  Yeah, no more silos, no more standalone solutions, no more — well, whatever you want to call it.  Social CRM must be integrated.  Let’s say you collect the data, and you analyze it, and you decide to take some action on it — what do you with it then? Easy, put it in the system-of-record — the good old CRM (or SCM, or ERP if you are talking Social Business or Collaborative Enterprise) system.  You need some way to integrate the Social CRM platform or architecture to them, some way to send the insights, resulting actions, and data to store with the corporate information.  If we were to leave in an ideal cloud world, that would be simply a question of doing some PaaS to PaaS calls and voila!  We don’t live in that world — so we need connectors, API calls, or whatchamacallits to do the job.

So, what do you think?  Too simple? Will this put the argument of Strategy versus Technology to rest once and for all? Can that argument ever be put to rest?  Would love to hear what you have to say…

(remember, there are other parts to this series, so don’t overexert yourself by commenting on this one only)

Upcoming June Madness… Wanna Join Me?

I know I have been — what’s the word… haphazardly? sporadically? — writing lately in the blog because I have been quite busy working on materials and deliverables for my upcoming month-on-the-road.  I have some very cool things coming up, lots of work and effort that went into producing it and would love to share them with you — if you want to join me.

Check it out…

Social Media Readiness Assessment

I spent a considerable amount of the time the past four months working on a Social Media Maturity Model and the associated Social Media Readiness tools.  It is pretty cool, and it can help you organization understand where you are, where you are going, and what you are going to be doing in Social Media.  I have always said that Social Media (the channels) are going to become your basic infrastructure (just like phones or emails) — but there is a proper way to do this, to integrate it with other tools and architecture in your organization, and to understand where things like Social CRM, Social ERP, Social Business come in.

Would you like to know how it all fits together?

Would you like to use an online tool to see where your organization stands in relationship to the model?

Join me and Visible Technologies at these dates and locations (links are to sign-up pages for each event).

Oh, did I forget to mention that there is an ROI calculator that was developed by Dr. Natalie Petohouff that will help you justify how you can bring Social Media to your organization?

Silly me… all these tools, all this knowledge — all this hard work… how can you say no?

Join us on June 2nd in Los Angeles for a breakfast on Social Readiness, Adoption, and ROI http://conta.cc/buWIQO

Join us on June 3rd in San Francisco http://conta.cc/cLi3zm

Join us on June 17th in New York http://conta.cc/dd4pFA

Join us on June 22nd in Chicago http://conta.cc/c3vJ1i

Join us on June 23rd in Atlanta http://conta.cc/cYvcfI

Lei Parla Italiano? Lei Parla Enteprise 2.0?

I am presenting at the International Forum for Enterprise 2.0 in Milan, Italy.  Beyond the oh-so-cool factor that I am going to Italy for a few days, I am going to be bringing the voice of Social CRM to the Enterprise 2.0 world.  I am co-presenting with Mr. Mark Tamis, of Enterprise 2.0 and SCRM fame, and we will be talking about how to make it all work together.  Not only that, but we were also given the closing panel for the conference — talking about “Enterprise 2.0 is from Mars, Social CRM is from Venus — bringing the two together to make a Social Business”.  It is going to be awesome.

Sameer Patel (fellow presenter at the conference) wrote a great post with far more details that I can fit in here.

One if by land, two if by water (and three if by Enteprise 2.0).

OK, corny title — but I am coming to Enteprise 2.0 in Boston, doing a panel, and having lots of time.  What else is there to do at a conference of people that believe in collaboration, in working for the customer, and in innovating their operations?  Why, evangelize, of course!  Want to meet at the conference?  Email me and we can set some time… I am going to be there 15 and 16, looking forward to it.

Who Said You Can Never Go Home Again?

Gartner’s CRM conference is coming — and I am making the trip  to meet with former colleagues, fellow thinkers, and to see what they have been up to in the past 2.5 years since I left.  Have they embraced Social CRM? Have they adopted new models for collaboration in the enterprise? Is there a Social CRM Magic Quadrant being introduced (rumor has it)?  I am going to be there just for one day (June 28 – email me if you want to meet while down there) since I have to fly out to make it on time for…

Hablas Castellano? Quieres Hablar de Experiencias del Consumidor?

Sorry, just keeping international.  I am going to be part of an extension course / summer seminar in Madrid, Spain talking about customer experiences for the next few years, what to do, how to make it better, etc.  It is going to happen at the Universidad de Madrid, on June 30 through July 2.  I have a lot of work I have put into creating the new model for Customer Experience that I will be unveiling there.  Want to come?  Sign up and join me!

(July is going to be off-the-road, while I prepare to move, August has some events, so does September, October, November — and then off for the month of December — at least hoping that’s how it works)

Some Questions on Social Experience (Teaser)

I am doing a Webinar with the incredible Brent Leary and Jacada Wednesday on the topic of Social Experience.

Preparing for this was quite interesting.  I was working with some of the slides I have on Social Experience (available on Slideshare) and thinking about the questions that I get almost every day on this topic:

Obviously, the first question is always “what is social experience”, followed by the traditional “and why do I care”.  Those are questions that everyone is asking.

But, did you ever think of the following questions…

“How does the Social Experience affect my organization?”

“What do I need to do about the Social Experience?”

“Why is it called a Social Experience, and how does it differ from the traditional experience?” (excellent question)

“Should I worry about the Social Experience?”

and, my most favorite question — “what if I don’t do anything about it?”.

There is a lot of be said and done, still, about the Social Experience.  We are past definitions, we are past acknowledgements of its existence, and we are starting to figure out what we need to do about it.

Want to know what to do?

Here is the link to register for the webinar (told you this post was a teaser)

What I Learned About Twitter in My Previous 9,999 Tweets

Forget my MonTwit experiment, or my contribution to it.

This is what I really learned in the past 9,999 tweets….

You truly, honestly don’t care what I had for breakfast. Or lunch.  Not even dinner… but someone will always take pictures of their food and tweet it — and I will always look.  While I don’t care what it is, I like to live vicariously.  Twitter is about sharing, and gossiping, and just plain out living your life in different ways (some of which you may not do in real life).  That is OK.  You are encouraged to share as much or as little of your life as you want — just don’t expect it to remain private if you share it.  Think of Twitter as an electronic postcard that is immediately read by 100 million people.

Not everyone will agree with me.  I made my share of friend-nemies, and plain out enemies, based on what I tweeted at one time or another.  No worries though, it just accelerated what happens in real life.  I made friends also, many more of them.  I am very grateful to both good and bad people (bad is those that don’t agree with me).  Twitter has been an incredible place to cross-reference what I know, to learn a lot, and to share what I learned.  People are mean? sure, as they are in real life.  People are nice? same, as they are in real life.  If you had enough of someone or something, simply use the filters that Tweetdeck gave you (or your favorite client), block them and go on with life.  Just like you would do in the real world.

Everyone wants to collaborate in Twitter.  Even if it is the old high-school concept of team (one person works, the others take credit) for very few of those “collaborators”.  Coming out of Gartner I missed the 6×24 (noon Saturday through Sunday afternoons were very slow or dead) global collaboration environment with smart people.  It was a very challenging and nourishing environment.  Think of Twitter as a mega Gartner.  Don’t like that reference? I could’ve said mega-Forrester and you would’ve really shuddered… (BTW, this may also explain the low incidence of analysts on Twitter, but that is just a working theory).

Twitter is a microcosm.  Twitter is a world in itself, and it has dramatic representations of what happens in the real world as well.  You want to see a computer pioneer get 30,000 followers before even the first tweet? Bill Gates did that.  How about see a Latin America dictator convince his dictator friends to join Twitter (and tweet under the name of the devil)? Hugo Chavez did that.  Seen a celebrity whose tweets can be worth $10,000.00? Kim Kardashian did that.  Did you notice that anther celebrity’s empty-content tweets are re-tweeted 350,000 times within 5 minutes? Ashton Kutcher would be the one (even if you don’t count the millions that follow him now.

In short, I learned that Twitter is a representation of the real world, no more and no less, and it requires the same commitment to get value out of it as you do from the real world.  Simply said, Twitter is another GIGO model.  Garbage In? Garbage out!

PS – I also learned that if you make a mistake and re-tweet something it does indeed goes against your tweet count, and if it was your 10,000 one you have to delete it, get a mulligan, and then re-tweet it again.  Just like in real life, you do get second chances :).

Social Media 102 – The Battle Plan

What do Ourobouros, Moltke the Elder, and the Battle of Waterloo have to do with Social Media?  What is a Community Focus Platoon? How can a path take two opposite directions at the same time?  How do Social Business and Moebus Strip compare? How does the game Towers of Hanoi can make your business social?

These are all questions that are answered in my latest slideshare contribution (and element of torture at Lithium’s sold-out 2010 User Conference).  Would love your comments…

Lithium Acquires Scout Labs, Dips Toes in E2.0 Waters

Lithium (a client, don’t forget to mark that column in your log) acquired Scout Labs (a vendor specializing in Social Media Analytics and not a client).  The deal was estimated at around $20MM (not that makes any difference, but am reporting the news here), and is expected to overcome all FTC objections (not that they would get involved, but again – reporting the news).

This is a terrific move by Lithium (and I would say the same if I did not tell them some time ago to do something like this, not that they would listen to me on these matters) and it positions them very well in two markets – for different reasons – and prepares them for an interesting convergence play.

As far as the SCRM market is concerned, they are growing their presence by acquiring the second of the four modules they will need to become a complete SCRM application (communities, analytics, feedback management, system of record – more on this soon) and by distinguishing themselves from the rest of the communities and analytics vendors in doing so.  In view of the recent spate of acquisitions in this market (such as Attensity acquiring Biz360, Jive acquiring FiltrBox, and RightNow Technologies acquiring HiveMind) this acquisition shows the commitment from Lithium to remain in the leadership position they have carved in the market.

However, most notably to me is that this makes them a very interesting play in the Enterprise 2.0 market. No, it is not heresy.  My view has been that these two market will converge eventually and that vendors will come from different sides to embrace the Social Business market (or whatever we will call it once we get there).

I wrote before that leveraging the content created on communities is one of the critical uses of analytics.  With this acquisition Lithium creates a very interesting combination of power bringing communities and analytics together, taking the first step towards creating actionable insights — the only purpose for building a SCRM (and Enterprise 2.0)  system.

Are they the first one to become a certified SCRM player? No, there is no one there yet (I said four modules, they have two as does everybody else — still room to grow).  However, they are the first ones to leverage communities as generators of content, feedback, and insights — and take the first step towards unlocking that power and converging SCRM and Enterprise 2.0.

Looking forward to what the world will make of this combined product (as soon as I can, I will talk to people taking on the combined entity and let you know).

disclaimer: as I said above, Lithium is a client and I am working with them on other projects (I am actually writing some interesting research on Social Media 102 – a part of which I am presenting at their conference later this week – Wednesday – and if you are attending, come see me and we can chat about it).  Even though they are paying me for that, they are not paying me to write this and to say they are cool, which they are, or to say that this was a good move, which it was as I acknowledged telling them before they had to do it.  These represent my visions and opinions on this market and this particular acquisition, and I stand behind it.  You, however, shouldn’t.  You should seek more information, read more, become better informed and then — and only then — make a decision on what to do. It is called due diligence, and it is a good idea as well as a career-saver.
image credit: massdistraction, http://www.flickr.com/photos/sharynmorrow/222401409/

How Accuracy in Analytics Matters for Businesses

I wrote about using analytics to get more value out of communities and how to use analytics to get to know your customers better.  However, the more I think about it, the more that I see the accuracy of the analysis as one of the most relevant issues for analytics. Continuing the series on the topics that matter for analytics, I want to look at the issue of accuracy and its effect in business.

Accuracy is the rating that defines how true is the analysis performed by the computer without human intervention.  In other words, and talking about social analytics, how real is the computer’s perception that a tweet or blog post has positive or negative inclination.  The only way to measure accuracy is by comparing the results of the computer analysis to similar analysis done by humans.  In other words, did the computer pick the same a human would’ve picked?

We only rate accuracy as the capacity of a computer to mimic a human brain and we can only conceive that a computer can be accurate when copying how a person thinks.  Alas, we forget to consider the inherent bias built into computer calculations: the one provided by humans programming such systems.

Computers only do what we tell them to do.  They have (almost) infinite computational power, and can apply any set of rules to any computational variables.  This means that if we tell computers that a specific word or combination of words means something positive, then the computer cannot make it mean something negative.  In other words, we are not really rating the computer’s ability to determine a sentiment we are rating whether humans did a good job, or not, in biasing the computer to pick that sentiment.  This means we can accurately predict an outcome selected by the computer before the first variable is computed against the first rule.

Accuracy is not a computer function, rather a human bias – and its “manipulation” can have great effects in the destiny of the business.  Learning to reduce the bias is going to yield better results for analytics, and where the efforts should be spent – so that you can get real value out of the analysis and so you can know where to take action, because taking action on inaccurate data can be a disaster.

Reducing the bias comes down to the two core elements of analytics: what we analyze, and what we compare it to.  What we analyze has two variables: data and rules.  What we compare it against has two variables as well: taxonomy (categories) and ontology (definitions).

Let’s examine how we add bias to these four variables:

  1. The data we chose to examine will determine the outcome of the analysis very quickly.  Whether we chose to analyze results from a survey, blog posts we picked up, tweets, or other expressions of human opinion, finding where the data to be analyzed resides is the most critical part of the analysis.  If we know that our customers frequent a specific community to discuss our products and services, analyzing twitter will not yield good results.  We tend to focus our listening to a myriad of communities, a very large number of them that don’t really matter.  And listening to the wrong place will bias the results by watering down the value of the positive and negative overall thinking.
  2. The rules are the place where the majority of the organizations introduce their bias.  This is where you will determine whether a specific input matters or not, and how it should be counted.  Domain expertise and knowledge of the business removes the bias in this stage.  There is nothing easier, for someone well versed in the event being analyzed, than to determine the rules that matter or not.  Some of the analytical engines have automated technology for creating these rules.
  3. The taxonomy is typically used to organize the insights found (sentiment, issues, etc.) into categories.  A few of the available products offer pre-defined taxonomies to which organizations add categories based on their product lines (e.g. cars, motorcycles, trucks) or business functions (e.g. sales, accounting, shipping).  Different customers have different categories or different ways to identify products and services
  4. The ontology (sometimes also called a topic domain) is simply word definitions. These overgrown dictionaries, which also include thesaurus and contextual word functions, determine whether the sentiment and analysis was performed between the right term and concepts.  For example, defining the word “tire” for one industry might be different from another. One of the things that improve the ontology is having a capability around disambiguation, a computer algorithm used to better interpret the content and identify the sentiment and the issues it refers to.

Now let’s look at the implications of accuracy for the business.  Let’s look at one specific example to show “accurately” (pun badly intended) how the correct set of variables can lead to the right (or wrong) conclusions.

A car manufacturer had a problem: airbags in their cars were deploying under unusual conditions.  Even when the cars were not involved in accidents, not even a small hit to the sensors, the airbags were deploying.  Upon initial analysis of the data the conclusion was that the mechanism that deployed the airbag (which costs around $30.00 to replace) may have been at fault.  A recall was prepared to exchange it for all affected customers.  Right before the recall was issued, the company decided to analyze in more detail the complaints they received from their customers (which explained in good detail how the incidents occurred), and cross-reference them to the detailed repair notes provided by the technicians fixing the airbags after deployment.

A higher degree of accuracy in the analysis was obtained by removing the bias that was introduced when translating the original complaints from the customers to mean that the entire mechanisms was at fault, and deconstructing the problem further to focus on each individual component of said mechanism which was detailed in the verbatim repair notes. This allowed the car maker to determine that the problem was not the entire discharge mechanism for the airbag, rather a small spring that overheated and relaxed under specific circumstances – a spring that cost just $0.25 to replace.  The potential impact to the car company if they had to issue a recall for the launching mechanism for all affected vehicles versus the tiny spring, a savings total of $29.75 per car, quickly shows how a more accurate analysis and cross-referencing of the data helps the organization.

Are you removing biases from your analytics? Improving accuracy? Are you looking at multiple customer data sources and cross referencing them? How are you doing that? Let me know in the comments below, would love to see more examples.

This is the third part of a series of six sponsored research reports I am writing for Attensity on how to better leverage analytics in a social business.

Parature Introduces Parature for Facebook (and Proves Me Right)

Parature (not a client, in case you are keeping track of who is and who isn’t) introduced this morning a new product: Parature for Facebook.  It is the first in a line of products they say are going to be introduced in the next few months where they port their customer service solution to Social Networks  – in this case, the Facebook Social Network.  Using this product companies can put their existing  knowledge base on Facebook, conduct customer-service Chats, and let customers create and manage support tickets via the FBML-based solution. In addition, systems administrators can manage the product via a FBML interface, and can even manage tickets via it if they are so inclined (not sure why they would, but it’s there). See this next picture to get an idea of the interface:

There is not much (well, some admin actually) existing Parature customers must do to use this product.  Non Parature customers will need to implement Parature Customer Service first, then they can leverage it on Facebook.  Here is what results would look like:

The key aspect here is that you don’t need to do integration, migration, or support two different solutions (silos, if you may).  A single  solution presented over two different interfaces is a much better solution.  Being able to leverage existing rules, knowledge, workflows, integration, and all other channels via Facebook makes it easier to deploy.

I saw the product, and it is quite well done.  Works the same way as in a regular web site, but it uses the Facebook look-and-feel.  Organizations that decide to do Customer Service over Facebook Like Pages (can we go back to Fan Pages, please?) benefit from having more than just a wall and a messaging interface to carry out those functions (standard Facebook offers).  I have not had the chance to talk to anyone who implemented it – yet, but expect to do so soon.  Finally, here is the admin console (before the analysis begins):

Now the gloating.

Back in the good old days before we embarked in a race to define Social CRM I said in a post relating the nascent SCRM to the failed e-CRM of yesteryears:

The prospects of having a “new” hot technology skewed the decision to launch e-CRM

Eerie, similarities ensue… The point is that Social CRM is an extension to CRM, and that smart companies will actually take their existing CRM strategies and implementations and adapt them to the Social channels they want to use.  Thusly, a company wanting to do customer service over Twitter would have to create an entire sub-strategy for that (Mission, Vision, Goals, Objectives, Step-by-Step planning, etc.) that extends their Customer Service and CRM strategies.  In other words, it is not about rushing to just “do something” over the new social channels, rather “do the right thing if it makes sense” over the Social Channels.

Yes, before you attack me, there are new “things” that Social CRM brings, but they are things like getting to know your customer better, understanding their needs and wants, embracing them in c0-creation, reducing the barriers to proper service — all things we were promised in 1991 when Siebel CRM was first introduced (and ever since, continues to be so).

What Parature introduced today is one technology step in that direction.  You want to do Customer Service over Facebook? Make sure it makes sense for your organization, that you have the right people, and you have the processes to do it right — then look at what they have and see if does what you want it to do.  Fits? Then, by all means — they are  the first vendor to introduce business functions inside of Facebook (until someone proves me wrong in the comments below), and I am dying to see what happens with it.

As for the gloating, well — will try to remain humble…

Disclaimer: Parature did not pay me for this, nor do I expect them to become a client because of this write-up.  Wish it was that simple. I am presenting at their user conference today and was offered a pass to the conference (I believe there is a charge for that) and I am hoping to score a lunch out of it — but they made no promises (actually, they don’t know that yet).  However, you already know I am not that cheap of a date, takes more than one meal and a conference pass.  These are my impressions and opinions, feel free to argue them.  Social CRM is just CRM with Social Channels (and, since this is in a legally-required disclaimer, it is now a legal opinion — so there, I just made it law by precedence).  Please do your own due diligence before taking anyone’s opinion at face value.

Allegiance Launches Social Voice of the Customer…Cool

Yesterday (when I began to write this) Allegiance (a Voice of the Customer – nee Enterprise Feedback Management vendor) announced they were launching their platform to deliver Voice of the Customer functionality via Social Media channels.  I saw a demo of SocialVoice last week, and there are some very interesting features.

First, they went beyond the simple Twitter pull-and-monitor gambit, which is where most people get stuck when first entering into Social Media, and can tap into communities, Twitter, and blogs.

Second, they provide workflows that can even be <gasp> automated to respond to specific feedback or complaints.  If, for example, someone tweets that their experience was good with product X or service Y, Allegiance can tweet back an automatic reply (with a link to a VOC Survey) asking for more information.  If automation is not desired, the response is presented to an operator that can then tweet in a human way (no jokes will be inserted here as to the value of said human in this interaction; bring your own).  Of course, a different workflow can be started  for a negative tweet, asking for a DM, contact information, or notifying the tweep (a word I swore I would never use) of their options or next steps.  Different workflows for different sentiments and for different channels — very cool (my words).

Third, all this data can and is aggregated in a central data store to be analyzed together — so the results from a traditional survey campaign sits next to the results from a blog-campaign, and together with the responses to a Twitter feedback event.  All this transforms  feedback into the fourth pillar of CRM when moving into a Social CRM deployment (which I discussed briefly before) and allows the organization to generate insights from any channel and feedback event, while cross-referencing to any other channel or feedback event. My words: very cool.

My first impression (if all the very cools above did not make it apparent) is that this moves the needle in the field of Feedback Management.  There are the usual caveats (have not seen how customers use it, a good product design means nothing without good users, and there are ways that this can be misused — but I believe in the good in people), but it introduces a method to collect valuable information from social channels to derive good insights. I wrote about using managed conversations before, and this lines up in the same field — collecting valuable feedback to generate actionable insights – not just noise.  While putting data together does not mean it will be properly analyzed, we are sufficient early on in the world of SCRM for this launch to be a significant step forward.  People will figure out in time how to do it better.

I am looking forward to talking to their customers (in about two weeks) and to write more about how they use it and what they found to be useful.  I am also looking forward to seeing the next steps from Allegiance.

As a first step towards Social-VOC – I like it.

Disclaimer: Allegiance is not my client, nor do I expect them to become one as a result of this writing.  While true that I am a guest at their user conference in about two weeks, they are no different from any other vendor who invites me to their user conferences and pays my expenses.  This is no more than my opinion, you are welcome to tell me I am wrong (there is an entire comments section below), and how I missed the obvious and / or don’t know what I am talking about.  You won’t be original, but you will feel better…