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.
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 Família. 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.