A few months ago, when I did my 2010 Watchlist for CRM Vendors, needless to say - now at least - Lithium was on it.There was a good reason for it too - they had been fast becoming one of the leading community platforms and increasingly vying for a significant position in the Social CRM world. They had run a series of incredibly clever marketing campaigns to establish their position in the world of Social CRM and managed to get recognized in circles that wouldn't have ordinarily given them the time of day in past eons.
But, as good a platform as they had and a market position they had begun to grab, they had notable lacks at the time. Here's what I said at the time:
"Nor do I see them attempting to establish the partnerships for integrations with the social media monitoring tools like Radian6. Their own unstructured data monitoring and capture tools aren’t particularly exceptional, so those integrations would be wise to say the least.
For an enterprise, the value of a community should be two-fold. Much greater levels of engagement with the customer (for the benefit of the corporate right brain) and a greater knowledge that can be utilized for customer insight (for the benefit of the corporate left brain) - which means data capture and analysis in support of that insight. Lithium has nailed the former, and has a very narrow focus on the latter - with their very good Reputation Engine which is focused on identifying influencers and key players - valuable unto itself. As good as the Reputation Engine is it is by no means enough when it comes to tracking the community’s thinking about a brand or a specific topic. They do have that with Twitter - again a pack follower there - but they could move the game by manifolds if they integrate a scalable engine for social media monitoring with good old fashioned roles and responsibilities administration, and triggers, automated routing - and analysis."
I figured at the time, the way that they would resolve their weaknesses when it came to social media monitoring was by integrating/partnering with one of the leaders in the SMM field. But they one upped me. They didn't partner, they made an acquisition - not just an ordinary one either - but they acquired Scout Labs ("merged" according to Scout Labs website), one of the top 2 or 3 social media monitoring properties out there for some $20 plus million.
What this does is fill in the holes that concerned me in January and makes the Lithium social offering stronger than ever. Does it make them Social CRM? No. They still don't have the operational functionality that Social CRM requires. But who cares, when you really think about it? What they do offer now - providing the integration between Lithium and Scout Labs goes well - is a very strong social offering worth consideration.
What's left for Lithium to do? Well, they still don't have operational functionality when it comes to sales, marketing and customer service. Their analytics back end is decent but not spectacular by any means. But all in all, this is a really good move by Lithium. Hell, Scout Labs was on my three months revisit list in the same blog posting - which meant I was very interested in them but didn't have enough information. I waited 4 months and look what happened?
I'm in San Francisco right now and will be keynoting the Lithium conference this morning at about 11:00am PT. I'll be speaking with the folks from Lithium and Scout Labs and will, I hope, have much more to talk about. But I like what I see in this one.