You Need New CRM Solutions To Keep Pace With The New Social Consumer

It’s the start of the new year and my phone is ringing off the hook as CRM professionals and technology solution providers call to debate the impact of that burgeoning new phenomenon: the social Web. Does it matter to the CRM community? Big time.

The social Web, a.k.a. Social Computing¹ among my colleagues here at Forrester, includes the fast-growing peer-to-peer (P2P) activities like blogging, RSS, file sharing, open source software, podcasting, search engines, and user-generated content. These technologies have seen a rapid adoption — 22% of adults now read blogs at least monthly, and 19% are members of a social networking site.² Even more amazingly, almost one-third of all youth publish a blog at least weekly, and 41% of youth visit a social networking site daily. Technology and social changes are creating a potent mix of forces that will transform the way all businesses operate, create products, and relate to customers.

CRM is being redefined, with a torrent of new acronyms and labels spilling forth from consultants and pundits: “Social CRM”, “Collaborative CRM,” and “CRM 2.0.” Traditional CRM solutions will continue to be important to enable organizations to aggregate customer data, analyze that data, and automate workflows to optimize customer-facing business processes. But, changing consumer/customer buying behaviors and new Social Computing technologies are spurring the idea that new generation CRM solutions will, and must, emerge.

My clients are looking farther afield in their search for solutions to help them manage their relationships in the new world of the social consumer. They are looking beyond the traditional solutions vendors like Oracle (Siebel), SAP, Microsoft, Consona (Onyx), and even the newer software-as-a-service (SaaS) providers like, and RightNow, in their quest to collaborate with customers in new ways.³

If you want to listen to your customers more closely, consider creating and participating in private communities supported by vendors such as: Communispace, MarketTools, and Think Passenger. Monitor “market buzz” and perceptions, using solutions from: Nielsen BuzzMetrics, TNS MI/Cymfony, Umbria, and MotiveQuest.

Help the fans of your products spread the message more easily through social networks like MySpace and Facebook. Find ways to communicate continually with customers and monitor responses using blogs supported by technologies from Six Apart, WordPress, and Google Blogger.

Develop your capabilities to use customer opinions to increase sales through ratings and reviews using forums like Bazaarvoice and PowerReviews.

Help customers to solve each others’ problems with solutions that support customer forums from Lithium Technologies, Jive Software, and Prospero Technologies. Enable customers to build solutions together; think about using Wikis like SocialText, Confluence, and Wikia.

A New Year? Yes. A “next generation” of CRM solutions emerging?  Ditto.

-William Band, Vice President, Forrester Research

¹ See the February 13, 2006, "Social Computing" report. ² See the April 19, 2007, "Social Technographics" report. ³ See the February 5, 2007, "The Forrester Wave™: Enterprise CRM Suites, Q1 2007 report.


re: You Need New CRM Solutions To Keep Pace With The New Social

Hi William,Good post. And you've named most of the groceries in the grocery bag that companies should be thinking about. The question is, what do the ingredients add up to and how can companies employ them.BTW, let us know if you want an update on Jive. Forums was our company a few years ago but things are very different now.

re: You Need New CRM Solutions To Keep Pace With The New Social

Great post! ThanksI want to call out a couple things that I believe are implied but need to be highlighted in your post above:1) Social Networking / Social Web / Online Technologies should not (can not?) be thought of in isolation of other customer relationship channels; the key thing to understand is that now is not only about the Company <> Customer Relationships but now we have also the Customer <> Customer Relationship element (a very important element indeed, as is what helps us identify Influencers/Advocates).2) If the above is true (which I believe it is) the platform solutions we will all need to address this new relationship space will need to become fully integrated with and drastically change the CRM solutions as we know today; you will need to be able to know and do something about your Customer <> Customer relationships from your CRM suite (i.e. identify key advocates and empower them to spread the good word).3) Program that successfully take advantage of the capabilities and philosophies mentioned above will be of paramount importance; just like CRM strategies continue to fail in some companies because the programs are not in place to properly use the great tools available today we will also have people that implement all of these new great capabilities and fail to use it correctly (and likely blame the tools for it)Filiberto Selvas

re: You Need New CRM Solutions To Keep Pace With The New Social

All great points. The future of CRM, as well as other business solutions, will be in collaborative Web 2.0 features. One graet bonus is that it focuses on bottom-up relationship building which is of course the focus for sales and marketing, or it should be. One great site I know that's doing this now is, which ties in a great free CRM systems with a business network and offers other excellent free services, like free teleconferencing, as well.