With Great SOMO Tools Come Great Responsibilities
Enterprise CRM of the future is all about social and mobile. In fact, Blackbaud, which specializes in providing CRM products and services to the nonprofit sector, even has an acronym for it: SOMO.
"We're looking at how we can extend our technology into social and mobile spheres," Tiffany Crumpton, senior marketing manager for CRM with Blackbaud, told CRM Buyer. "In 2013, we see that the CRM market is really going to shift to thinking about leveraging best-in-class platform technology."
Microsoft's acquisition of the enterprise social network provider Yammer is one key step in the direction of making CRM more social.
"Our company's recent acquisition of Yammer has led to an exciting moment for all of us," Reuben Krippner, technical product management lead with Microsoft Dynamics CRM, told CRM Buyer. "Yammer is a big bet for Microsoft as it is positioned to be the conversation layer across the Microsoft portfolio."
Microsoft Dynamics CRM will be incorporating Yammer into its suite of services starting this month, putting internal social networking at the center of its offerings.
"The Microsoft Dynamics CRM December 2012 service update will deliver the first phase of integrating Yammer as the social layer for Microsoft Dynamics CRM," said Krippner. "It will help us redefine a user's experience, and bring the CRM industry an unmatched social and collaborative offering, as it is designed with business success priorities in mind."
Microsoft's Yammer will be competing with Salesforce.com's Chatter, which is a leader in this arena.
Salesforce Chatter combines "the familiar human experience of a Facebook-style community with the robust, scalable and productive capabilities of a true cloud Platform as a Service," Peter Coffee, VP and head of platform research with Salesforce.com, told CRM Buyer. "Legacy vendors are overdue in acknowledging the need to deliver comparable function, and far from being able to put it in customers' hands."
What sets Salesforce Chatter apart from its competition, said Coffee, is its emphasis on two-way communication.
"It's dangerously easy to adopt new forms without changing actual behaviors," he pointed out. "If a company uses social media to talk, but not to listen; if it fails to identify and cultivate new and nontraditional influencers in the marketplace; and if it fails to invest in customer delight, relying too much on inertia to keep a customer, then that company will find itself made irrelevant with startling speed."
Microsoft, in other words, will have to work to establish itself in the social enterprise CRM world.
"Yammer is competitive with Chatter, but it all depends on how Microsoft positions it," Jim Steger, principal and cofounder of Sonoma Partners, told CRM Buyer. "Maybe they can start to re-engage their customers. Chatter has been a leader for a while, so it's a more mature platform."
Mobility is another key trend in enterprise CRM, with companies working to ensure that data, information and communications are no further away than an app or mobile website.
"With regard to mobile, people have ever-increasing expectations around how they access systems and information through new generations of devices to provide anytime, anywhere access to information, processes and people," explained Microsoft Dynamics' Krippner.
"Microsoft Dynamics CRM will invest in capabilities that deliver modern, familiar and compelling user experiences, including mobile devices and scenarios."
Salespeople and other business representatives on the road expect -- like their customers, clients and constituents do -- to be able to access data and do their work with smartphones and tablets, and enterprise CRM networks are increasingly taking that demand into account.
"These are people who often don't want to be in front of a laptop, so we've provided them with a mobile interface so they can get on with their job," said Blackbaud's Crumpton. "We've thought about how that experience and workload needs to be defined."
These moves toward social and mobile capabilities get at the heart of what enterprise CRM is: a system of providing comprehensive tools across multiple spheres and platforms.
"Enterprise social is transforming the way people work," said Krippner. "We envision a world where social is woven into the apps you use every day. As we look ahead at how collaboration and communications continue to evolve, we believe that the tools you use today -- email, IM, voice, video conferencing, social -- will come together and be deeply integrated into your apps in ways that will speed collaboration and truly transform the way people work."