It started with a tweet: news from IT industry analysts Gartner as reported by TechCrunch that the social customer relationship management (CRM) market is forecast to reach over $1 billion in revenue by year-end 2012, up from approximately $625 million in 2010. TechCrunch added that worldwide social CRM is projected to total $820 million in 2011.
Among first retweeters was brand strategist Olivier Blanchard (@thebrandbuilder on Twitter). His tweet was retweeted by analytics expert Chuck Hemann (@chuckhemann on Twitter) who doesn’t think much of the moniker "social CRM":
The issue is that I think CRM folks inherently get the need to collect social info without us putting the social in front of us
An exchange of tweets between Olivier, Chuck and I ensued culminating in a challenge to Olivier to come up with a clearer definition of "Social CRM" where Esteban Kolsky’s definition I posted about in May serves as a start point:
[Social] CRM is a philosophy and a business strategy, supported by a system and a technology, designed to improve human interaction in a business environment.
Olivier rose to the challenge in spades, with an intelligent post (and a great example of story-telling) in which he offers credible explanations of the differences between CRM – for which there is a clear definition – and Social CRM, and explains his thinking as he constructs his definition of "Social CRM."
Do read Olivier’s post for the detail and chronology. But to cut to the chase from my perspective, here is his definition:
[Social] CRM is a business function supported by a system and technologies whose aims are to improve a company’s ability to derive insights into customer needs and behaviors by connecting their transaction data with the lifestyle data they share online.
But wait: Olivier proposes this subtle variation on that definition:
[Social] CRM is a business function supported by a system and technologies whose aims are to improve a company’s ability to derive insights into customer needs and behaviors by adding to their transaction data the lifestyle data they share online.
The italicized text shows the difference in words between the two.
Do either or both of these definitions make it easier for you to understand what "Social CRM" is? Do you have an alternate definition, or some changes you’d suggest to Olivier? He doesn’t claim to have invented a concrete definition.
I like Olivier’s concluding comments:
[…] My other hope is that by 2013, the term SCRM becomes obsolete, and CRM has simply evolved into the richer ecosystem of data, insights and consumer interactions provided by the social web. In my mind, the sooner we stop qualifying everything in terms of “social” or not social (as if the two were still somehow separate from one another), the better things will work. For now though, the painful transition continues. Viva la revolución!