• August 16, 2012
  • Please, can I have some dog days?

    It’s good to be busy, but I remember when August was a slow month, sort of like January and for the same reasons.  The holidays are out of the way, there’s less to do other than eat the Christmas chocolates or the summer squash and tomatoes and think about spring or going back to school.  The August doldrums were a time of clambakes and vacations.  Now?  Clambake, Si!  Vacation, No mucho!

    This month is just a little too full of the traditional things like vacation (still) but also the 24/7/365 work cycle.  So as you read this you will already know who the CRM Idol semi-finalists are and CRM Evolution will be wrapping up in New York as will Sage Summit in Nashville.  Just another week in the CRM world.

    Also, at CRM Evolution, Esteban Kolsky will be reviewing (while I am in Nashville) some research we did this summer on social media adoption and customer attitudes.  The free white paper is just around the corner.  And I should say here that the research would not be possible without the financial support of our sponsors who included, Microsoft, Attensity, Moxie, Kana, Dun and Bradstreet and Salesforce.

    Last week I offered some observations on the research and CRM Idol and perhaps I can offer a bit more here.  A couple of themes running through Idol this year are simplicity and information hubs.  Hubs are to me the most important, simplicity is an interesting throwback.

    More than one emerging company has started its pitch with the idea that they’ve looked at a CRM business process and found it cluttered.  They therefore designed a stripped down system that delivers just the functionality you need to perform the process.  Of course this analogy only goes so far and it is something you’d expect a new company to say, but it might also be true.  More mature systems tend to attempt to do more in part because the stripped down versions they started with were successful and customers demanded more as they built out their best practices.

    So for me, the answer to the stripped down argument is more about whether the tool is aimed at a new process or an old one.  And if it’s an old process, does the new tool bring something better other than fewer tabs?  Keep watching Idol to find out.

    One of the reasons I am an Idol fan (and judge) is that I get an intensive dose of newness and I can start trying to understand the drivers and processes early.  Paul Greenberg deserves a lot of credit for herding all the CRM cats (he has experience as a serious cat lover).  One idea that has struck a chord with me this year is that the newest and most advanced solutions (in my opinion) are focusing more on data and what to do with it.  Here’s why.

    Effectively using social media in business, beyond its initial use as a transmission protocol requires a good deal of data analysis and information.  We tend to forget about this when we use social media in our personal lives because in our minds we automatically do the data to information conversion.  A friend posts some data and we immediately interpret it as part of a life that we more or less know.  But it is the previous knowledge of the friend’s past behavior that sets up the analytic template in our minds, which we then fit the new data into to produce useful information.

    Businesses do not have this capability because they don’t know their customers as intimately and a successful business has many, many customers.  Also, many customers are reluctant to share their personal information directly.  Nevertheless, this level of intimacy, based on prior knowledge and assembled into a profile of the customer, is the ultimate goal of social media’s thought leaders.

    Also, most solutions are SaaS oriented and that part might seem like table stakes today but it should not be overlooked.  One of the important things it provides is a solution to the “Big Data” problem that many companies discovered as soon as they discovered social media.  With the data off in the cloud, the management chore is out of mind and users can concentrate on the benefits to be had from having as much of it as possible, rather than worrying about where to put it.  So as I am looking at it, big data and social have a new wrinkle, one that will cause a lot of discussion and adoption in the year ahead.

    Interestingly, last year’s Big Idea, gamification is relatively absent from Idol.  I don’t think it means gamification went away, some companies dropped out but that perhaps and hopefully means they are so busy satisfying customer need that they don’t have time for contests these days.  If that’s the case, we’ll be able to see it in the next iteration of our longitudinal study of the social markets.  When I know more, you’ll be second to find out (first dibs go to the sponsors after all).

    Published: 12 years ago

    At the recently completed CRM Evolution conference, sponsored by CRM Magazine in New York, Esteban Kolsky presented some of the results of our social media research.  We’d been working on it for most of the year and we were writing up the findings almost until Esteban gave the presentation.  It killed me not to be there but I had a client engagement.

    The research was sponsored by Microsoft, Kana, Moxie, Dun and Bradstreet, Attensity and  And while we will be issuing a free white paper for general consumption soon, I thought it would be good to share our key findings, which will be part of the paper, as an early thank you to all of the people who used social media to drive the response rate up.  Using social to study social might not have been a first but it was certainly demonstrative of the benefits we were studying.  So, without further preamble, here are the key findings.

    1. It’s still an early market.  The majority of companies surveyed have some experience with social media primarily through the big name social media companies such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, corporate blogs and video sharing sites like YouTube.  This suggests that companies are just getting started; other data shows that reliance on these media is primarily outbound.  In other words, companies are using social as a low cost way to broadcast a message but not necessarily as a means of collecting customer input that can be turned into valuable information.
    2. Obstacles to adoption remain but they are largely not technical.  Executives “get it.”  The line of business people are less sure and younger people generally have more experience with social media and they get it too.  The sticking points are not IT related.  People say they have some concerns about legal issues, security and many haven’t figured out where in their organizations to first apply social media or which business processes to start with.  This shows there’s plenty of opportunity AND that vendor messaging has not cracked the nut yet.  It also shows a tremendous opportunity for vendors and providers to show the way to do social well, including lessons learned, best practices, frameworks, and methodologies.
    3. The usual suspects have the greatest adoption e.g. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, plus the corporate blog and video.  Reliance on these media, which are primarily oriented toward outbound personal communication, is a good indicator of the level of sophistication for social media use.  While these channels are important they represent the last mile for social media use.  Other activities like capturing customer input lag and a strong case can be made that companies are building out their social strategies in a sequential process — from the customer in or from the data out.
    4. It should not be surprising that video and picture sharing are among the top social media.  Many organizations have not yet adopted video as a messaging tool in part because it can be expensive and it requires additional expertise that must either be hired or bought on a consulting basis.  But in this and other research, we have seen that organizations that have adopted video and sharing sites like YouTube and Vimeo are discovering strong ROI especially in the sales and marketing process.  Video sharing through links in social media is a natural fit and companies are eagerly adopting it.
    5. Marketing and service have more uses for social media than does sales, so far.  Customer service has more use cases for social media than the other two areas combined.  Sales adoption is clustered around the early parts of the funnel such as prospecting and providing information.  Marketers know that social is useful for capturing supplementary customer data and using it in nurturing programs.  Customer service uses social media in a variety of situations for improving first call resolution and providing correct information to customers. Overall, marketing’s use of social media appears to be more sophisticated than either sales or service as these two departments use social for outbound communication primarily.  Marketing is at least beginning to collect customer input for data collection.
    6. Social media has also made significant impacts inside the organization for communicating with and among employees.  Among its benefits are, better employee feedback, greater individual participation in problem solving and greater job satisfaction.  Although people see easier recruiting benefits, they do not see improvement in employee retention with social media.  Nonetheless, a company’s positive experience with employee give and take through social media will give some the confidence they need to use social media in novel ways with customers to capture more feedback — internal successes will easily lead to further adoption of the technologies and to seek external use cases.
    7. Content is king.  Ranking the three major social media for usefulness, Twitter is first followed by Facebook and then LinkedIn.  Interestingly, corporate blogs and product/service blogs are rated higher than the top three services indicating that people want specific content and they are not put off by content size or the time it might take to read or view it.  So the three popular social tools might help get the conversation started but successful companies will quickly discover that they need more content for follow up.  Our CRM Idol experience this year confirms this point: we are seeing a larger-than-normal number of vendors focused on content creation, tracking, and management.
    8. About 70% of those who completed the survey said they were involved in the purchase process and 27% said their job titles were in a range from SVP to C-level or board members.  We therefore feel that this report represents opinions of serious decision makers.
    9. We conducted this survey in Europe too.  But the results did not yield a sufficient response to be deemed quantitative.  This analysis focuses only on data collected from the primary, U.S. based survey and while there may be some responses from overseas in this data we are considering it the primary data and not loaded with a significant response from outside the U.S. or North American market.

    Stay tuned for more.


    Published: 12 years ago