Finding: Social CRM Vendors Don’t Walk The Talk

I first posted this on the Destination CRM blog, thanks to Josh Weinberger @kitson. Update: The below is a partial view of the industry, do see this larger index of Social CRM vendors.

Surveying the Social CRM Industry
Business partner Ray Wang (focused on enterprise strategy) and myself (customer strategy) of the Altimeter Group is undergoing a major project for a client in the nascent Social CRM arena.  We’re surveying the landscape to learn about a variety of vendors in the space, their capabilities and deployments. A small portion of our survey is to see who’s eating their own dog food, and truly demonstrating they understand the ‘social’ aspect of social crm and living it.

Companies Who Sell Social Products Should Demonstrate Credibility By Living It
While critics may be quick to dismiss the mere inclusions of a blog or community to a product landing page, the message goes much deeper. Social CRM isn’t just about bolting on a new plugin to your system like a new air foil on your minivan but instead a new way of doing business. The promise of social crm says that companies are truly listening to their customers wherever they are, responding, anticipating, and making the commitment to improve products and services. Vendors that are assisting brands with this promise to the market need to demonstrate they fully understand the ramifications of social crm –not just a keyword checklist of the buzzword du jour.

Criteria: How We Graded the Social CRM Vendors
There are four major areas of grading, from very tactical ability to 1) Simple sharing of social content from the corporate product page 2) Surfacing a developer or business community, and a look inside of the discussions in each community, with bonus points for integration with product page. 3) Thought leadership with relevant blogs on the subject, and a gauge of their level of interaction and any twitter accounts they may have. 4) A subjective look at the overall page experience in the context of a company that’s offering a ‘social experience’.

Findings: Overall, Social CRM Vendors Aren’t Walking the Talk
We’ve decided to make our findings public, at least for this part of our client deliverable to see how different vendors that are in the Social CRM space are walking the talk.

Sharing Features on Product Page (out of 1 point) Community and Integration (out of 1 point) Thought Leadership: Blogs, Twitter (out of 1 point) Overall Social Experience (out of 1 point) Final Score (out of 4 points)
Salesforce 0 0 0 .25 .25/4
Microsoft Dynamic 0 0 0 .5 .5/4
SAP CRM .5 0 0 0 .5/4
Jive (Community Platform) 0 0 .5 .5 1.0/4
Oracle/Siebel Social CRM 0 .5 .5 0 1.0/4
RightNow CRM 1 0 .5 0 1.5/4
Lithium (Community Platform)* .75 .75 .75 0 2.25/4

To pass, companies need to receive greater than a .5 in each category for a total score of 2.0 plus making Lithium the only vendor to pass.

For details, see the data, and our justifications on this Google Sheet.

Highlights From Study
The product pages are devoid of true social interaction, and none of them actually surface discussions about how the market is even talking about them. Marketing machine Salesforce demonstrated they aren’t engaging in a social experience on their own product pages and SAP and Microsoft’s typical enterprise looking design stayed consistent with ‘boring’ social experiences. Although Oracle’s bland web experience looks like it’s designed for the media-phobes, there is links to community and thought leadership blogs. Despite the overall meager findings, there were a few social hopefuls such as Lithium (Altimeter client*) who integrated social throughout the experience followed by RightNow Technologies who demonstrated thought leadership through executive blogs. Honorable mention to Jive engaging online video that captures the spirit of the Social CRM movement. We know that soon every webpage will be social, even if you don’t choose for it to be, so companies should enable features that allow websites to have conversations. Social CRM vendors that want to demonstrate to the market they are experts at this space should gear up to demonstrate they’ve the ability to do as they preach –as for now, it doesn’t show.

*Altimeter Client. At the Altimeter Group we practice open leadership (also the topic of Charlene’s upcoming book) and disclose our relationships with clients, given their permission. We hope you will trust us more if we do.