Bringing Real-time Collaboration Into CRM


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A long time ago, really long time ago, when networked, multi-user CRM became a reality, we all thought it was so cool that we could see a meeting, or a To-do, or an Email that was created or acted upon by someone else. And so the story goes for nearly 20 years. Fast forward to today. Never mind, it’s the same old same old.

Without getting into continuums and things, I want to briefly collaborate with you on some practical applications of…collaboration. All within the confines of a CRM platform. That’s right, not in some other platform. Let’s bring it home, baby! We’re already here, so let’s figure out how to make it better.

What’s Cool About Facebook?

I do enjoy hearing what my friends are up to and making silly comments. More importantly, however, I enjoy helping my friends solve problems – like, what’s the best smart phone to buy (answer: Droid).  They can throw that out there on their status, and all of their friends can respond to, or “Like”, an idea. Using your personal network this way is powerful. I’ve relied on instant messaging for a long time, but this actually provides visibility across your network, and doesn’t put anyone single person (or friend) on the spot with a direct question.

What’s Cool About Enterprise 2.0?

My friends, like Mark Tamis can jump in and educate me a bit on this, but internal collaboration, whatever flavor, is also powerful in much the same way. Most companies have a lot of knowledge floating around in the heads of employees with no place to escape. We’ve talked about knowledge-bases over the years, but getting stuff out of heads and into a KB has never been practical. If it were, we would have seen more of it. Using real-time collaboration tools gets it out because people like to help. And doing it one snippet at a time is doable. You may not be able to plan what comes out and when, but you’ll get there over time. And while doing so, the collective knowledge of the hive will spread like honey (that was a good one :) .

What Could Be Cool About CRM 2.0 (Social CRM)

Social is not all about Twitter and Facebook integration. Some of it is about emulating their concepts within some more traditional architectures. For instance, let’s take a look at commenting. It’s cool because people are sharing. Each comment is a separate part of a thread of knowledge. So what isn’t a comment feature tied to, today?

  • Accounts – Well, we’ve always had the ability to write 1:M notes about a corporate entity. But not really in a way that is streamed real-time like a Facebook Wall. You can find it later if you like by going to the Account record and digging. Wouldn’t it be neat to add a Facebook-like comment to an Account where it then showed up on a wall (if you will) so others could react and/or add to it in real-time?
  • Contacts – Same thing!
  • Opportunities – Allow others to help you close a deal by helping you deal with real issues in real time! And the information is central and contextual at the same time.
  • Activities – Now here’s an interesting one I haven’t really thought through. What if my calendar entries appeared on the wall and someone noticed it and reminded me in a comment on a presentation activity that I would need to bring a projector because the customer doesn’t have one. Hmmm. Can anyone else think of cool scenarios like that?
  • Projects – Nothing too new here. The online project solutions like Basecamp already do this. But! They are not part of your CRM platform, so it’s not tied in like CRM 2.0 needs to be. I’ve built PM add-ons to CRM before, but they’ve never had collaboration at their heart.

I’d love to hear anyone’s ideas on this. Especially you grizzled CRM veterans out there because you really understand the context. While reaching out to our prospects and customers in Social Media is important, internal social collaboration is equally important. Let me know what you think and/or how you would implement it!

Republished with author's permission from original post.


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