Tim Buckley Owen Social CRM - who will make port safely?
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By Tim Buckley Owen

Abstract

Social customer relationship management grows in importance with Salesforce, in particular, dominating and launching new products. However, Gartner warns that there may be too many overlapping solutions being offered to too small a market in this field.

Item

Salesforce sails on, dominating the social customer relationship management (CRM) seas. But rival privateers are closing fast – the only question being whether they can catch up before the bubble bursts.

Once again, Salesforce is taking the opportunity of its latest Cloudforce event, in San Francisco, to launch new products. Salesforce Rypple is a social performance management tool which “allows companies to engage and align every employee from within their employee social network” (as the company puts it) and Salesforce Site ensures that marketers deliver a consistent brand experience to every customer, alongside fresh, relevant content.

Rypple is the result of an acquisition by Salesforce last December, and the company is clearly now reaping the benefit. But the purchase came at a time when the technology analyst Gartner was warning that there were too many enterprise social software vendors with overlapping products chasing too few potential customers (LiveWire comment here).

Yammer is one such hopeful. It’s just launched its equivalent to Rypple: an Analytics Dashboard which measures the growth of an organisation’s Yammer network and charts activity across it. The statistics it provides include the number of engaged members, the top performing groups and a breakdown of how users are accessing networks.

Meanwhile Salesforce’s social CRM offerings are being challenged by another social business company, Jive. It’s currently beta testing the Jive Social Customer Service Solution – which it claims will allow companies to address all their core customer service requirements simultaneously, reducing costs by deflecting calls while speeding case resolution times and (Jive claims) improving customer satisfaction.

Then there’s Cision, another software supplier to the public relations and marketing industry. Its new offering is its Social Influencer Search feature, which allows PR folk to find out who’s blogging and tweeting most effectively about a particular topic. Once identified, the influencers can be characterised according to their pitching preferences and social media accounts, as well as being scored according to Cision’s own Influencer Rating.

NewsGator and LinkedIn are among further seekers after the social CRM pot of gold (LiveWire comment here). But if any of these developments come as a bit of a revelation – well, that may just serve to emphasise how dominant Salesforce still seems to be in this market.

Once again, Gartner may well be able to explain why. It’s lack of consistency among buyers that currently keeps the market fragmented, it suggests (more LiveWire comment). The vendors that are going to survive and thrive in the medium term are those who offer tools that do more than just address one thing.

That’s fine if they can all reach port before the investment bubble bursts. Gartner currently gives it till 2013 for consumer networks and 2014 for enterprise social software companies.


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