Salesforce Pushes Social CRM Technology –But Don’t Expect Companies To Be Successful With Tools Alone


Mark Benioff and Jason from Twitter Wonder what your high school mascot guy did when he grew up? He went to enterprise software. Salesforce Demo Area Marc Benioff of SalesForce 

Service Cloud 2 Answers Integration Service Cloud 2 Instanet Knowledge Integration Service Cloud 2 Google Integration Service Cloud 2 Twitter Integration

Above: Pictures from Salesforce’s event


This post was co-written on a wiki with R “Ray” Wang, Partner and Colleague at Altimeter Group

Salesforce launches a new set of social apps that make CRM connected to the social web. So what does it mean?

Salesforce’s Twitter integration and application launch helps brands monitor what’s being said. Yet despite the fanfare, the application lacks a pre-determined way to identify the profiles of Twitter profiles and primary keys within the CRM database. Secondly, the system doesn’t provide a default setting to prioritize the influence (such as more followers) vs a profile with few followers –limiting the ability for brands to prioritize their support offerings.

Salesforce’s “Answers” product is a threat to community platforms that offer support-heavy features. Vendors like Lithium (although a SF partner) Jive, Telligent, Awareness, and Mzinga are impacted. Brands that have a strong SalesForce implementation will first look to their CRM vendor for social support offerings –reducing the pipeline for community platform new comers.

The newly minted “Knowledge” product, which harvests the IP from customer service reps, and customers themselves is also a direct threat to wiki creators such as SocialText, Atlasian. Those vendors should quickly bolster their marketing efforts to demonstrate how they are differentiated. Client server based contact center products will face increased competition as business users choose to move to platforms that deliver provide greater social aspects tied to user generated content.

Despite Salesforce’s technical announcement, this doesn’t mean success for their customers. Technology is only 20% of any enterprise change, the other 80% is culture, process, roles, and strategy change –key requirements that Salesforce is not equipped to provide. As a result, don’t expect customers that don’t have the right program in place to take advantage of these technology offerings –instead expect vendors with a heavy professional service offering to empower a company to truly embrace customers in the social web.

Overall, Salesforce is above and beyond other CRM vendors in terms of connecting to the social web. Yet despite their ability to connect with new channels, they lack a full solution to empower brands to make the cultural changes within their orginiazations. Expect other CRM vendors such as Oracle’s Social CRM offerings and Microsoft Dynamics CRM to do a “me too” in coming months as others jump on the social CRM bandwagon.

For the CIO: R “Ray” Take: The coming wave of social CRM initiatives and cloud based service solutions require CIO’s to rethink about their overall apps strategies to support hybrid deployment options. Rapid proliferation of SaaS solutions inside the organization requires strong CIO leadership in coordinating data, business process, and metadata integration strategies. Moreover, now will be the time to begin master data management activities that will support social CRM initiatives and resolve profile identification and entity resolution issues. Take control now or lose control forever.

For the CMO: Jeremiah’s Take: Marketing has spread beyond awareness and lead generation –support IS marketing. Yet to be successful, your internal processes must quickly meld PR and support to provide a seamless experience to the customer. Be proactive, not reactive: Use brand monitoring technologies to head off issues before they volcano into PR disasters.

44 Replies to “Salesforce Pushes Social CRM Technology –But Don’t Expect Companies To Be Successful With Tools Alone”

  1. Your point about tech being 20% of enterprise change and 80% cultural is spot on. Tools are only useful when people use them well.

  2. Jeremiah,

    You are bang on with the advice to focus on people/culture rather than the tools. Being a bit selfish here, but may be businesses like yours & mine can thrive by helping orgs understand what it means to get “social” be it internally or externally & then help them choose the tools. But yeah … it still sucks that most will just buy the tool. 🙁

  3. It will be interesting to see how a company’s existing use of Salesforce CRM will effect their adoption of these new tools.

    Will it be easier for companies with little to no experience with CRM to lead frog into Social CRM than it is for companies with an established set of CRM policies and procedures to re-envision/expand its use?

  4. This is huge for start-up’s too. They want to pound out numbers on search engines (usually not knowing what the heck they are doing but heard they should) yet not take the time to connect and build relationships. I love the idea of teaming up marketing and support. What a missed opportunity if either resists.

  5. is a bloated product. New social tools = more bloat. The Highrises of the world should dominate, but Salesforce has momentem and name recongnition. Reminds me of old Windows vs Mac debates. BC

  6. I couldn’t agree more with the 80% rule, and that’s where companies fall down.

    While my focus is in the area Web performance measurement, I find exactly the same thing: Companies spend money on the tools but don’t invest in the education, methodology, or analysis that they need to actually change the way that they see CRM/Web Analytics/Web performance/[fill in the blank].

    The way I see it, and as I said in my latest blog post, buying a tool or making a change to improve the way things are is like plugging a hole in a dike. If you do nothing to determine why the hole got there in the first place, you’re doomed to repeat the same mistakes over and over.



  7. Tools are a great conversation starter for cultural change. Before there were wikis or blogs or twitter, people who wanted to bring about cultural change were often talking in a vacuum. Having tools helps turn the fuzzy problem of cultural change into something concrete. Tools help illustrate the benefits clearly. Tools also make hard things possible. Till people actually saw email, it was hard to envision an uber-connected, flat world. Once they did, it became clear to almost everybody that things were going to be very different.

    I agree with you that changing culture *is* the hard part. Tools can help. In my own experience in bringing about cultural change, words get people interested, but the right tools seal the deal.

  8. Thanks for this post.

    There seems to me that there are two ways to look at Social Web and CRM.

    1) the one you’re exposing: i.e seeing Social as a channel and enabling CRM in this Chanel. That’s extending the support/customer relationship from “people that talk to you” to “people that talk about you.

    2) but there is another way to look at this, which is to recognize the importance of communities/ tribe.

    Communities are more than a database of customers or prospects. They have their own logic, behavior, dynamic.
    Community relationship management is more than CRM in the social web. To me it’s more a marketing play and requires not only to monitor the channel (btw made up by multiple infrastructures) but also to understand social ecosystem, analyze connections, content aso.

    I don’t see SalesForce being anywhere near this.


  9. Social CRM

    So, should PR + Support + Sales all be integrated to provide customer a seamless experience?

    It’s hard to leave the salesman out of the social equation since they represent so much of the front end reputation.

  10. Jason

    The truly connected company should involve all of the right internal stakeholders to provide a cohesive experience to the customer. So yes, PR, Sales, Marketing, Support, R&D. Could this become confusing to a customer? Yes, maybe a new role like the community manager who becomes that online face is the first point of contact.

  11. “Those vendors should quickly bolster their marketing efforts to demonstrate how they are differentiated.”

    Thanks for the advice, Jeremiah:) Atlassian has over 15,000 customers many of whom use Confluence for support knowledge management and JIRA for support request management. You just might see some content coming from us over the coming months where we share best practices on using Atlassian products for support.

    Best Wishes,

  12. You're post is right on. The tools are great, they help a lot, but in the end it's always people and processes. If you have those two areas in check, then the tools will make your life easier. Without those two elements, you're missing the problem, it's not the tools.

  13. You're post is right on. The tools are great, they help a lot, but in the end it's always people and processes. If you have those two areas in check, then the tools will make your life easier. Without those two elements, you're missing the problem, it's not the tools.

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