sCRM: Stop me if you think you’ve heard this one before

Two weeks ago Oracle acquired social media management (SMM) tool Vitrue and yesterday Salesforce.com’s $689 million acquisition of Buddy Media was confirmed.

Although these deals may be great for the acquired companies and the start of an era of social software consolidation, I can’t shake the feeling that this matters very little, if at all, to client-side marketers.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software suites have been around for decades, “social” or not. Although today’s playing field may be shaking out into an intense competition among SAP, Oracle, Salesforce.com, and Microsoft, the problems of CRM 1.0 persist in the world of CRM 2.0 or “social” CRM.

Sagrada Familia

CRM is like a triptych – a work of art consisting of three sections. The ornate middle section has always been technology. The other two equally important parts are process and culture. Tech vendors would have you focus only on the center, but your program needs all three parts completed. Speaking of art, some people are fans of Gaudi and the¬†Sagrada Fam√≠lia. Unfortunately, it’s not a completed work and while interesting to observe, it’s impractical to be used. In this era of budget accountability, the last thing a marketer wants is a tool that sounds great in theory but in practice can’t be put to work.

If anything, what these acquisitions tell us is that consumer engagement at scale is a difficult proposition. Standalone vendors aren’t able to go it alone — we saw similar activity in the listening platform space with Radian6, Scout Labs, Nielsen Buzzmetrics, and Cymfony. As SMM tools exit on a path towards platform integration, marketers may have shiny new tools to choose from, but they’re left with the same old problems they began with.

0 thoughts on “sCRM: Stop me if you think you’ve heard this one before”

  1. Marketers may not blatantly care about any particular acquisition. But a side effect among marketers will be delight, as the noise and complexity in the decision-making process erodes through industry consolidation. In noisy markets, industry consolidation also has the outcome of concentrating otherwise dispersed talent with the winning technology solutions. Sure, process and culture need to be figured out. But when marketers figure that out, the Oracles and Salesforce’s will have a stake in the game with their shiny technologies.

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