Debunking Three Myths About the Gartner Social CRM Magic Quadrant


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Missed me? Come on, only been a month — OK, promise to not go away for so long again. Scout’s honor.

Part of the reason I was gone so long was the Gartner Social CRM Magic Quadrant (paid subscription necessary) published last Monday. I had to work with clients on the positioning, the arguing with Gartner before publication, and then attend the conference to see what came out of it.

The report came out, and as usual 99% of readers ignored the 25+ pages of text detailing inclusion criteria, evaluation criteria, market description, perspectives for the future, and vendor analysis only to focus on the chart. So, let’s get it out of the way: Jive and Lithium came up as leaders (congratulations to both) and there is a field of 17 other vendors split between “… social media monitoring, customer- and partner-hosted communities, enterprise feedback management, product reviews, ans sales contacts.” (taken from the Gartner document). That is all I can say for the chart (Jive is offering a free download just for opting-in. I don’t endorse doing that — but you would’ve found out about it any way).

Many assumptions were made from that little chart, and the few nuggets of information shared by Gartner at the conference, leading to some statements that I would like to ”clarify” (and by clarify I mean provide my opinion as a former Gartner and current independent analyst).

So, let’s debunk these myths.

First myth, Gartner said that Social CRM was going to be a $1B market by 2011.

Hmmm, that is not what I heard.

I heard that there was going to be around $1B invested into Social CRM through end of next year. This would encompass software licenses, maintenance (or not if SaaS), consulting, process changes, culture changes, hardware, etc. Basically, that is how much we should expect to see coming into the CRM market in addition to the traditional CRM expenditures (Gartner placed the CRM market at $9.8B currently) in the next 18 months. I could not find a single Gartner analyst, or report, that talked to the SCRM Market as an independent entity worth $1B. There is no $1B market being created, there is money being added to CRM to make it social.

Second myth, by putting this out Gartner validated the market.

Ah, no. They did not.

They validated the concept, but not a separate market. They said many times, as most people who have been working with SCRM from early days have said – this is not a separate market — this is a market extension for CRM. Why, even during the keynote Ed Thompson said so when he described CRM as having three modes: transactional, analyitical, and social. Why they did do was validate the concept of Social CRM. They said that not only does it exist, but it is becoming the third mode for CRM implementation. And, as such, it requires rewiring of the strategies, the implementations, and the tools — just like we did when we moved from transactional (called operational back then) to analytical CRM. Good friend Paul Greenberg wrote on his summary of the event that Gartner is a market-maker, and I would concur with caveat — they can build the CRM market further, but they cannot build a separate SCRM market. No one can do that.

They did, however, draw the line in the sand (I am thinking they had the stake that Paul Greenberg put there first as a guide — but that is just me) as to where Social CRM starts and where it goes from here.

Third myth, Gartner said communities are the core of Social CRM.

Oh boy, I hate to get in trouble with some of my clients — no, they did not say that.

They said it was an important part of it, and they said that among the components they selected (see introductory paragraph) hosted communities were the key to getting value of Social CRM into CRM. And I agree with that (and not just because I have clients that sell communities) and I said so before.

Gartner forgot to add the most critical part of Social CRM – social analytics to the list. Of course, the assumption they made is that the modules that are used for analytical CRM are sufficient for Social Analytics — and the answer is no there as well (could be, if you figure some way to do sentiment analysis with it, and leverage social media monitoring to bring in the raw data to them). But they did not add Social Analytics to the list of solutions they were considering as SCRM – so yes, communities is the most important part of those highlighted.

So, where does this live us?

I must say I was slightly disappointed with the social content at the conference. I do truly admire Gartner for being the first of the major research houses (without counting my good friends at Altimeter) that have come out and embraced the concept of Social CRM and laid down some perspective on it. At the same time, I was hoping for a little bit more direction than “there is a bunch of vendors that do something social, we have not yet figured it out and we will do so in the next 12 months”. I was hoping for a little bit more avant garde thinking, some serious thought leadership. I was looking for them to regain their throne as the undisputed thought leader for enterprise applications — and I did not see that.

I did see some very well executed, on-target messages aimed at people trying to figure this out. I heard some very good advice about doing things slowly, taking the time to understand what is going on, and only then try new things. I did hear all this messages we have been saying in several communities around the web — outside of Gartner and without their involvement. What I am not sure: were they repeating what had already been expressed — or were they talking, as they are supposed to do, from their experience and exposure to several layers of the CRM Market.

I am hoping it was the second — what do you think?

disclaimer: what am i disclaiming here? no implicit or explicit endorsement of Gartner or the MQ was made in this post (as if you could not have figured that out yourself – right?). Also, wanted to share with you what came standard disclaimer for me each time I used a MQ in a presentation or report:
“This MQ represents a very precise, small portion of one specific market (as defined by me) in one specific time (when I collected all the answers to the questions). It is in no way a fair representation of the entire market, nor is it the one that applies to your particular situation (unless your evaluation and inclusion criteria, as well as timing, match mine). It is to be used ONLY as one tool in an arsenal of many to understand a market, vendors in it, and where it is going (if you read the text that surrounds the chart). If you make a decision solely based on whom the leader in the MQ is when you read it, you totally deserve what you will get in return. There is a fair chance that one of the leaders may work for you — but there are also many chances that other vendors, even those not in here, can do the same or better. If you really want to know how to interpret this to your particular situation, and how to use the tool appropriately — please do schedule a call with me and I will be happy to run you through everything you chose not to read in the report.”

However, since I don’t “own” an MQ anymore – the above disclaimer could only be used as guidance for the one published by Adam Sarner from Gartner (whom, I am certain, has his own disclaimer).

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Esteban Kolsky
ThinkJar, LLC
Esteban Kolsky is the founder of CRM intelligence & strategy where he works with vendors to create go-to market strategies for Customer Service and CRM and with end-users leveraging his results-driven, dynamic Customer Experience Management methodology to earn and retain loyal customers. Previously he was a well-known Gartner analyst and created a strategic consulting practice at eVergance.


  1. I enjoyed the read, I havent read the report and like you said – I’d be one of those who would focus on the chart only. I liked Myth #2 – I often hear how SCRM is a group of its own… not a subset of usual CRM. Just as a side note, I do have a client who provides a CRM solution and we are improving the social aspect of it. Here’s a nugget to try out – have fun!


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