“Consultware” is the key to Social & CEM Technologies adoption


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The increasing number of software & applications dedicated to CEM, Social CRM, and Social Technologies, contributes to the emergence of a need for people & companies which can both deal with Business Consulting & understand the direct application of a technology  inside the customer's business issues and initiatives. Hence the term of ConsultWare (Consulting + Software).

If we define Consultware: A company which can understand precisely the needs and expectations of a business initiative and provide both the methodologies and the technologies to succeed in the initiative. The Consultware firm has a core business of assessing, training, accompanying its customers in given initiatives and identifying through its expertise the best technologies to meet and exceed goals.


There is a fact that the majority of software vendors in CEM & Social CRM are experiencing today: Software doesn't sell by itself! and even more when you're in the beginning of the educational curve on a given subject. In other words, it is not because you have the new killer app that it will automatically be taken over by businesses. It's a fact well-known by software vendors in other domains. CEM, Social CRM & Social Media vendors are learning as well, but various factors make different than what it was for others like CRM or ERPs, we'll come to that later. There are 2 ways to challenge the issue to develop sales for these actors :

  • Develop your own professional services
  • Set up partnership program to get the finest consulting firms either to sell your software or to roll it out

No ground breaking news here of course. However cutting edge technologies editors struggle to have their new solutions into the market because customers eventually say: "Yes great, but what do I do with it?". Now one can argue that companies can provide minimum consulting but when it comes to Social CRM software or CEX/CEM Software it's a whole different story.

4 facts that prove the concept

  1. It's driven by the shift in the relationship with the customers: Until the early 2000's businesses were product-centric and software was designed this fact. It was business driven, people inside companies knew exactly their jobs to create a transactional environment. Today the Customer Centric model pushed inevitably by customer interactions have moved to a conversational environment where there is little education that has been done on how to do it and what to do  it with,
  2. The idea behind is yet to be rooted inside the company's vision : Clearly when you talk about listening, engaging and getting your customers to participate in the CEX & Social way, very few businesses are ready to commit and jump in! They of course say they do it but just do a quick interview of 5 stakeholders or C-level excecutives, and see if brand promises are consistent and clear in the interviews. If so how do they align it in the employee-customer interactions? Hence, it is a good thing to have partners that can deal with these cultural transformation.
  3. Staff is not there at the moment: Not completely true, or partially true. Most of the people actually know what it is all about when it comes to Social, but they experience it on a personal level. Even if Social Media units are spreading inside companies the vast majority link it to pure communication. They have not worked or not understood how to implement Social inside the customer relations. Indeed they are opened to people who can help them understand and build the strategies to get the most out of the tools. Here again a consulting partner is useful for he makes the transcription between software features and business uses.
  4. Software is about selling licence not consulting: It is very hard to scale a business that is initially set up as a software editing company and that has progressively integrated consulting services. Investors look for scalable business meaning that once basic requirements are met the software can sell and generate profits. Consulting is a very different approach as if the software business really scales and you wish to accompany your customers, you'll need to hire new consultants and increase the weight of salaries. In the end it is seen as cost! but if you think more in terms of customer centricity, proposing a fair amount of consulting services indeed may reinforce your customers' loyalty and engagement. One is a short term vision, the other long term and sustainable vision. No critics here, it depends on the focus founders and shareholders have.

All these facts combined confirm the need to think strategy differently. Several companies such as IBM and Microsoft have understood this already, they partner with IT services providers which have opened business consulting services. However the size and the need for reactivity is not a intrinsic characteristic of these companies. Markets move quickly, demand for business support is increasing for CEM & Social Technologies and specialists inside the big partners are not able to face the number of potential projects.

Customer Experience & Social Media rely on a very different type of business professionals which are often independent consultants or small size companies. To reach full profitability the vendors from CEM & Social CRM are now developing partnerships that can help transform the try. But will there be enough people and enough time.

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Frederic Gilbert
Frederic works as a business consultant and international project manager in the field of Customer Experience, Service Innovation, 3D Printing & Fab Labs. He is a PhD Candidate at the University of Paris Sorbonne since 2014. His research covers fields such as Innovation Management, Fab Labs, Practices & Design Thinking.


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