Choosing Sides


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While it is winter on the calendar, it is a bit hard to tell around here. We have flowers poking through the ground in mid-February when they aren’t really supposed to show themselves for at least another 6 weeks. Much of the folks I know have headed up to the mountains this week anyway, making me a bit jealous that I am still down among the pre-mature daffodils and jonquils. There is snow above the right elevation, and there is a sufficient abundance to keep the holiday crowd happy.

If I were with them, one of the things I would be experiencing is the interesting riff between traditional downhill schussers and the new-school snowboarders. The former refer to the latter as knuckle draggers. The latter mostly ignore the former. Each tends to take sides on the split in the sport – one looking at the other in disdain and the other looking back with indifference. I understand it, but I don’t participate. I actually prefer both. I’ll choose two boards for some conditions and go with a single board under other conditions. I get enjoyment from pairing the right equipment with the right condition, like a good wine with the right entrée.

Sutton Retro Dodo

In the technology world there is something similar developing, but perhaps with less enmity. We have some folks who are all about the Enterprise 2.0 thing, and then we have another set of folks who are jumping on the Social CRM bandwagon. They tend to have different blog sites and on-line communities for sharing articles and case studies. Yet, I don’t get the need for the split.

Enterprise 2.0 seems to be all about the new age of collaboration within the organization, and the technology that supports it. You can find stories about how product development is improved with more creative input through better collaboration; customer issue resolution happens faster and better with similar collaboration; and the pursuit of deals are accelerated and converted more often again due to the collaboration of the right people at the right time.

Social CRM is more directed at customers, attempting to leverage the evolution of societal behavior onto social web platforms. As more people spend more time on Facebook and LinkedIn, it makes sense to manage brand value through social monitoring; drive prospecting through social networking; and perform in-platform customer service issue resolution right at the point where people are ranting within a tweet.

Why have these two disciplines formed as separate interests? Combined they are much more powerful. So, I my suggestion is to combine the two and call it Social Business. Harnessing both internal and external collaboration tools and processes combines the benefits of both and leverages the entire organization in the pursuit of customer business outcomes. Becoming a social business means that you utilize better collaboration internally and engage with customers on social platforms externally. The two together are the perfect combination and are starting to be combined technically within the more powerful CRM platforms.

So, don’t take sides – swing on both sides of the plate. It provides more flexibility and delivers better results. Develop your social business competencies internally and externally and harness double the power to achieve CRM program objectives more effectively.

Enjoy the snow while it lasts.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Matthew Johnson
Matthew E. Johnson, Ph.D is a business transformation consultant focused on the use of technology to enable customer relationship excellence.


  1. Matthew, thanks for an interesting take on the unnecessary divide between “Social CRM” and “Enterprise 2.0.”

    You said it perfectly: “Becoming a social business means that you utilize better collaboration internally and engage with customers on social platforms externally.”

    That’s why on CustomerThink since 2008 we have had just one category for social/collaborative content — Social Business. And I believe that over the next few years progressive organizations will “connect the dots” with technology that will enable collaboration among customers, among employees or between customers and employees.

    And I think the use of “Social CRM” and “Enterprise 2.0” as industry buzzwords will fade.

    The technology is similar but the use cases and justification is different. That’s why “social” vendors and their customers have thus far tended to pick internal or external as a starting point. I think the software industry will evolve to more players that enable holistic collaboration, and companies will learn that it’s ok to snowboard AND ski.


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