The SCRM Panel: My Notes…


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Earlier this week I moderated an SCRM panel for the CIO and IT Executives of the Bay Area meetup group. We covered all sort of topics in 90-minutes (there is link to the video at the end), and here is my summary.

First, the level of people in the panel was exceptional: Chris Carfi , an exceptional thought leader in the social world, and one of the first ones to recognize the shift in the world from the 1-1 relationship between the organization and the customer to what he called back then the “Social Customer” (this was in 2004); Lyle Fong, CEO of Lithium and one of the most passionate people in the world about communities; Anthony Lye of Oracle, who is in charge of all Oracle applications worldwide and who founded the precursor to SCRM some 10-odd years ago in the form of ePeople; and Tony Nemelka, one of the pioneers in the field, who co-founded HelpStream.

To me there were three key things to takeaway from this event:

SCRM is real. We did not bicker about definitions, or where does it sit, or who owns it. Those are not the the important issues. The title of the panel was “Is SCRM For Real?” and the answer was a resounding YES. We are still in the early adopter stages of the solution and there are great examples everywhere of organizations doing things that are SCRM. There are almost not two projects alike, and all are very interesting. Alas, most of them go far beyond Twitter and Public Social Networks. The meat of the solution, it seems, is in adding the Social Channels to CRM and going back to the basics: companies need to make money and they need to listen to their customers. How to make it all work together?

It is about Signal Attenuation. there is a sensational discussion on signal attenuation (separating the wheat from the chaff, the noise from the and signal), and the reason I am so interested in SCRM. If you start from the premise that SCRM is an add-on to CRM, and then try to figure out how to extract value from the channel you very quickly get to noise reduction. We talked about whether Twitter matters or not (it does not, for the most part, as a channel) but we spent most of the time talking about filtering and attenuation techniques as being critical. Lyle Fong talked about trying to discover value in community posts from among 3 million people as an example. That is the secret to SCRM success, how to capture valuable data and move it along to CRM so the fourth pillar (Feedback Management) can make sense of it.

The strategy is not to jump in, but to be thoughtful. The bottom line, SCRM is about business. I know it is shocking, but it it not about the customer. The customer is one part of the equation, and just jumping in will not make a difference in the long run. Doing something without a strategy, listening to the customers and do something without knowing what, is not a solution and is definitely not SCRM. Integrating the SCRM channels with CRM and the rest of the enterprise apps is where companies will create value, and see the value for SCRM. Don’t just do it for the sake of doing it, it is expensive and has no value.

My final thoughts: the winning phrase of the evening (and probably the most open to debate) was Anthony Lye trying to determine whether CRM was a “feature or a market”. I think I can be seen nodding vehemently when he said that, and I like that approach. You probably already read my post on whether SCRM is a market or not, but I think he clearly threw down the gauntlet on where we stand now and it is up to us to pick up the glove, help move SCRM forward and grow it into a market.

As a side item, everyone in the panel recognize the value of the “accidental community” in Twitter and the discussions we have as very valuable in moving the ball foward. And I agree.

So, who is going to pick up the gauntlet from Anthony? Ia it a passing feature that we are going to end up attaching to CRM solutions? Or can we build a market around it?

What are your thoughts after watching the video?

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. Hi Esteban

    Sounds like you had a great time.

    Pity I couldn’t have been there to throw a bucket of cold water on what sounds like a Social CRM vendor love-in.

    The thing I miss in your write-up is any sense of vision for what Social CRM could be. Instead, I see a pragmatic, incremental but insipid approach to eeking a few more cents out of the current sub-optimal, inside-out approach to CRM. Sure, you can turn Social CRM into an add-on to CRM and you can make a few more cents by pretending to listen to customers. But that is like adding high-octane fuel to your broken-down, old banger and expecting it to go like a Lambo.

    Where is any sense of what Paul Greenberg wrote about in his post on Time to Put A Stake in The Ground on Social CRM or what I wrote about in my post on How Customer Co-Creation is the Future of Business. Where is the sense of engaging customers as real partners for innovation, marketing, sales and service? Where is the creating an experience that enables co-creation of value? Where is the building of an eco-system of value-adding partners? In short, where are the big brains with the big ideas?

    You don’t win the 100m by walking to the finish line. You win by sprinting. It’s time to get your running shoes on.

    Graham Hill
    Customer-centric Innovator
    Follow me on Twitter

    Interested in Customer Driven Innovation? Join the Customer Driven Innovation groups on LinkedIn or Facebook to learn more.

  2. Graham,

    Thanks for the great comment, and for getting the wheels turning. I do have some 5-6 hours of driving time – perfect time to perfect a post I have been thinking about that rounds up what you have written above.

    Thanks for the “gentle nudge”.

    Look for something either tonight or over the weekend.



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