A Quick Look at the Social CRM Vendor Landscape

Updated: October 05, 2010

Without further ado:

The Big 4

Oracle - Oracle is perhaps the most interesting of the vendors. Despite their name for their sales applications - Social CRM - they are more focused on enterprise collaboration than SCRM in particular. With the recent exposure of their beautifully organized Fusion apps which include CRM, Human Capital Management, etc., they have increased their emphasis on enterprise collaboration, building features directly into the fabric of the Fusion applications that cross all specific application domains. However, while their enterprise collaboration features ranging from wikis and ranking and rating engines, comment engines and monitoring activity streams are very strong, they remain at this point behind the firewall and are not really designed to engage customers. That said, they have both native social media monitoring features, and their mobile marketing applications are very much geared to B2C customers who can access loyalty features and use points, get peer reviews and participate in discussions all via mobile devices like the iPhone, Blackberry and Android-related devices. So at least here there are some key SCRM like functions.

Salesforce.com - With the recent release of Chatter 2, which adds among other things, much needed deep filtering customization for the activity stream monitoring that Chatter provides and the CRM pedigree of salesforce.com, you would think SCRM is a no-brainer for salesforce.com. For now, that's not the case at all. What salesforce.com has done is through the integration of Ideaforce.com into force.com, provided some SCRM functionality into their native platform, so you can build your own SCRM capability to some degree. But that said, Chatter 2 is NOT at this time focused around SCRM. Marc Benioff sees that they will integrate the external customer inputs and outputs needed for Chatter to bring it to that state in about a year, but for now Chatter is focused on enterprise collaboration - again behind the firewall. One other note: their acquisition of Jigsaw and its data which is based on an customer-collaboration-based open data initiative is something to note here. Whether or not it works in a vendor specific environment remains to be seen.

SAP - They have approached SCRM by component, not holistically. For example, they have done a great job with their Twitter/customer service/sentiment analytics integration, making for one of the best customer service monitoring tools on the market, but they have done little in the way of social sales or community platform integration, for example, Interestingly, their Business All-in-One on premise product is showing some promise integrating social streams into the conduct of the SMB application but it is an on premise product which is not inherently a bad thing, but needs its SaaS or cloud delivery equivalents.

Microsoft - Even with the release of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011, this is long on traditional CRM and short on social channel integration. Again, this is no reflection on the quality of what they are offering in the traditional CRM marketplace, but is an honest assessment of how suited to SCRM they are.What they do have, unlike any of their competitors despite competitor claims is a great cloud platform, Azure, with all the components that a true cloud provider needs - infrastructure, storage, apps, a platform, services etc. In Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 they have high levels of personalization and contextual behaviors, which are awesome when it comes to customer experience. But that isn't SCRM. But it is good.

Other Vendors To Watch

RightNow - RightNow stepped up their game a bit over a year ago when they acquired HiveLive a social platform. They had been foresighted with their initial integration (which ended with the acquisition of Hive Live) with Lithium who operated both as their internal community provider and their interim community platform. While RightNow focuses on customer experience and insists that they aren't CRM, they are despite the latter blindspot, a premier CRM provider who is incorporating particularly service communities into their customer service applications. They are entirely focused on customer service - not the sales or marketing components of social or even traditional CRM despite their investment interests in Salesnet.

CDC Software/Pivotal - They are perhaps the biggest surprise of 2010. This is a traditional, portal based CRM company that had fallen off the radar screens of everyone for the last 4 to 5 years and somehow, just showed up again with a Social CRM product, that I have to say, integrates social functionality into a traditional CRM system more seamlessly than any other company on this list. So, for example, you can, from inside your CRM system, monitor individual tweets which then are actionable if you choose to make them so. That means you can open a lead or generate a trouble ticket depending on what the tweet drives you to do. If you open a trouble ticket the workflow and business rules behind that trouble ticket send the information to the appropriate party or parties. Its almost seamless. Its biggest problem? Its only on premise which is not a wise thing in the era of the cloud.

Jive - Jive has one of the strongest internal community platforms that exists in the market place and has been named by Gartner Group in June 2010 as one of two leaders in the Social CRM Magic Quadrant. What they have is an enterprise ready community platform that is strongest when it comes to building internal communities - regardless of what delivery model you care to use e.g. on demand, on premise, virtual, etc. What they don't have is traditional CRM sales, marketing or customer service functionality. When it comes to integration they are strongest with SAP. They are the providers for SAP's SDN (3 million members) and BPx (750,000 members) social networks. They are great for product innovation etc. and not as strong for customer service. Rock solid all in all though more "inside out" than "outside in." B2B not B2C as much.

Lithium - Lithium also won a Gartner Magic Quadrant Social CRM leader slot. They are a community platform provider with a markedly different approach than Jive but honestly, have a similar weakness when it comes to SCRM - they have no traditional sales, marketing and customer service functionality - or not much of the latter. They are again a rock solid platform, nonetheless. They are great for customer service not as much product innovation. "Outside in" not "inside out." B2C not as much B2B.

NetSuite - NetSuite has an integration with sales intelligence provider InsideView and with Twitter and from the standpoint of Social CRM, that's about it. What they do is traditional end to end enterprise apps (for upper midmarket) really well, but have not been all that interested when it comes to a social CRM vision - though there are glimmerings on the horizon.

Sage - For a company that's geared to the small and lower end of the midsized marketplace, they've done a surprising amount of integration with social capabilities starting with the availability of external social networks (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and some customized) feeds inside of all their customer facing product lines including ACT! 2011 Premium to Saleslogix 2010.

SugarCRM - SugarCRM 6 added the ability to integrate a myriad of custom and well known external socnets and other media directly into the SugarCRM system you've chosen for your company - should you have done that. They have a partnership with InsideView and other social providers of varying kinds to make that integration comprehensive if not seamless. They don't have the ability to develop communities in particular though and of course carry the traditional CRM functionality they always have. A very good effort when it comes to social media monitoring though making the data actionable is not an out of the box thing.

Infor - Infor swallowed up SSA Global which swallowed up Epiphany (formerly known as, I kid you not, E.piphany) and that is where they get their CRM chops though, they like others such as the newly minted Moxie (nee nGenera) prefer to call it customer interaction management CIM). Whatever. Consequently, its hard to type them into the SCRM or not space but they have an email marketing program call Email Advisor, which while not strictly social CRM per se falls into the "sculpting the right experience" part of the SCRM definition. The program can dynamically alter the email message based on the real time activity (or inactivity) of the customer whose inbox has the email that holds the offer. So, if you're out of town 10 days and an email offering you a discount good for a week is in the box, by the time you get back, the expired offer is no longer part of the email and a new timely offer takes its place. Amazing stuff and while not TECHNICALLY SCRM it does satisfy what the social customer is looking for so who cares what its called?

INgage Networks - They are a true social networking platform and not a community building platform. They integrate very well into the public sector and the entertainment and media space providing video conversation engines, ranking, ratings and commenting, workflow and business rules engines - a truly enterprise worthy social networking platform. That said, they, like the others that grew up social, don't have the traditional CRM functionality necessary to be truly an SCRM provider, but they have a strong public sector focused integration with Microsoft Dynamics CRM and are built to handle these integrations. Next step? Doing the integrations.

Get Satisfaction - This offering started out as customer service social site where you could not just register your complaint about a customer, but companies could run their customer service community from the site. Well, they've begun a dramatic morphing into a platform for building service communities that will compete with the likes of RightNow, Lithium et. al and they have started by integrating that platform with salesforce.com and other CRM vendors are in the game plan. This is one to watch for at least the customer service component of SCRM.

Sword-Ciboodle - Sword-Ciboodle came from the world of what Forrester called "process based CRM" (whatever that may be) and has excelled in keeping making sure that the 90% of the queries that aren't complaints that come in, stay not complaints. But with the recent release of Ciboodle Crowd module, they place themselves squarely in the customer service part of the SCRM universe. One advantage is that they DO have the traditional customer service capabilities that are needed as part of the SCRM platform.

Others to pay attention to - WeCanDo.Biz, Moxie, Zoho, Radian6, Attensity, ExactTarget, SAS, and Pegasystems. Each of these is worthy for one reason or another when it comes to SCRM. More details on these others some other time. For now, make sure you click on the links because they take you where you need to go for SCRM, not just to the general site

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