Enterprise 2.0 vs Social CRM – Fight or Tango?


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There is either a new storm brewing in the horizon or may be just a mirage, it is unclear as yet. I am talking about the enterprise social software of course, couldn’t you figure that from the heading of this post? 😉

With the recent grouping of forces around Paul Greenberg’s stake in the ground on the definition of the term Social CRM, especially with the recent claims of various social technology companies as being Social CRM, there are some confusions and ribbing in equal measures.

The witty, nutty & immensely influential Enterprise Irregulars have joined the fray after Ross Mayfield of SocialText blogged a great megapost on Social CRM iceberg, making it a very interesting discussion in the immediate bloghood. Well, it isn’t very popular in the blogosphere since you know … enterprise software is not exactly sexy … and so many people do not take such a keen interest in at as they take in consumer software. 🙂

Ok, let us look at what is defined as Enterprise 2.0 by the fountain of knowledge – wikipedia:

Carl Frappaolo and Dan Keldsen defined Enterprise 2.0 in a report written for Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM)as “a system of web-based technologies that provide rapid and agile collaboration, information sharing, emergence and integration capabilities in the extended enterprise”.

See? Even wikipedia doesn’t have one! But thats still far better than Social CRM since it doesn’t even have an entry!

What I want to say is that though the people who follow Enterprise 2.0 & Social CRM understand what it is in the hearts of their hearts, there is not any widely agreed upon definition. In fact I have come to believe that it might be very difficult to define them as yet, this might be because these are still evolving fields.

Please do not get me wrong or misjudge me. I have had experience in implementing & using social software in the enterprises for the past four years. And I do “get” the thing about using social software in the enterprise.

I however like to differentiate between the social software implementations per the audience – internal facing for employees, external facing for customers, partners, etc. in the business ecosystem.

Let us see what Andrew McAfee, who coined the term, defines it as:

Enterprise 2.0 is the use of emergent social software platforms within companies, or between companies and their partners or customers.

So clearly the use of social software for customer facing purposes is also Enterprise 2.0. So does this not prove Social CRM to be a subset of Enterprise 2.0?

Not so fast there! Issue is that the term Enterprise 2.0 has predominantly been used to denote the internal facing social software, with internal collaboration, knowledge management/sharing, productivity, agility as the goal. So for the sake of this post let us treat Enterprise 2.0 as the use of social software within the organization. In such a case I believe Social CRM has an area of intersection with Enterprise 2.0 rather than being a subset. But lets not get too tied up with the semantics or get too pedantic. 🙂

I believe that there is a clear necessity for Enterprise 2.0 and Social CRM to co-exist, since efficient employees lead to better customer experience.

Technology wise too there is overlap in many aspects if you consider the usage of blogs, wikis, forums, microblogging, etc. in both internal facing & external facing aspects. But the way the blogs, wikis, etc. are managed for internal & external use is clearly demarcated and is not advisable to be handled by same people.

There are many differences in privacy, rights, roles, permissions, integration & other perspectives that make a huge differentiation in the base technologies. In an internal implementations you do not bother about the personal privacy, but do take care to provide access rights & permissions based on roles & team/department one belongs to, where one is in the organization structure. The permissions are set either by the user or at a system level by the administrator or even a manager. In an external implementation personal privacy of the users is paramount (Marshall Lager has a great post about that on the CRM Playaz blog). Also, the rights & permissions are set by users based on the degree of separation in their social relationships, not team/department/organization structure.

Additionally, for a social CRM implementation, the kind of integration with other enterprise systems is different from that of an internal implementation. For internal implementations you do not need the feedback loop to be completed by the social media monitoring tools nor do you need integration with the user components like OpenID, OAuth, Facebook Connect, Google Connect, etc. So there are differences in architectural considerations too!

In our organization we have various Enterprise 2.0 tools like our forums, blogs, wikis, their integration into our online collaboration & project management platform, etc. But they cannot be used for an online customer community involved in customer advocacy, brainstorming, resolving issues, disseminating information, crowdservice, etc. nor can we build a Ideastorm like community or a Coca Cola Facebook community. Nor can the team that implemented the internal tools do the external implementation. Just because a mallet & gavel are related does not mean you can always use them interchangeably. 😀

I believe Enterprise 2.0 (internally focused) & Social CRM need to tango, not fight. 🙂

How about you? What do you think? What has been your experience?

Prem Kumar Aparanji
SCRM Evangelist @ Cognizant. Additional knowledge in BPM, QA, Innovations, Solutions, Offshoring from previous roles as developer, tester, consultant, manager. Interested in FLOSS, Social Media, Social Networks & Rice Writing. Love SF&F books. Blessed with a loving wife & a curious kid. :)


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