Oracle's Social CRM product combines social networking and Web 2.0 sensibilities inside a traditional enterprise software wrapper. To learn about the design goals behind this new product, I interviewed Anthony Lye, Oracle's Senior Vice President for CRM.
Anthony offers much insight into CRM and Enterprise 2.0. Listen to this podcast if you care about social networking in the enterprise.
On CRM data sources:
Anthony spoke about differences between traditional enterprise applications and Social CRM around data sources and "ownership:"
Historically, in enterprise software, one tries to own the data. Social CRM assumes we never own the data and that it's created by independent systems. In this paradigm, aggregation from both internal and external systems, and adding social metadata, provide the value.
Since software vendors have used data ownership to prevent customers from easily switching systems, this is an important issue. In true social networking fashion, I posed the issue to over 1300 people following me on Twitter (read from bottom up):
I also asked Vinnie Mirchandani, CEO of sourcing advisory firm Deal Architect, for his thoughts about data ownership:
Although vendor lock-in is an old issue, the real cost of changing enterprise software platforms lies in the totality of migrating data, re-training users, and so on. Data portability is only one part of the story.
On customer feedback:
There are two kinds of requirements: facts, meaning information coming directly from the customers; and opinions, which have no customer validation. We continuously validate the software with customers, on a screen-by-screen and function-by-function basis. In addition, we adopted Agile development for Social CRM, which also ensures ongoing feedback.
It's still early and we are in beta with a number of customers, but in my career I've never had this volume of requests to beta the applications.
On learning from consumer applications:
We looked at publicly available, consumer-based applications that encompass the richness and the interaction model we wanted to apply to the enterprise data set we were manipulating. We tried to model the traditional CRM lead-to-order process through these productivity tools.
On traditional CRM:
CRM, in its prior form, never helped a salesperson sell anything; it was a management reporting tool. The salesperson was forced to enter as much information as possible, and the benefit came from management reviewing the information. Salespeople have never really liked CRM.
For Social CRM, the hypothesis was, "Could we improve upon the visibility you get from a traditional system by improving productivity; would visibility be enhanced as a by-product of productivity?"
You can see the evolution CRM in three acts. Act I was transactions (collecting data); Act II was analytics (gaining insight from the collected data); and Act III is conversation (or engagement).
On IT failures:
Sales is one of those areas where people tend to apply too much process and too much control, and have struggled to get the returns because they're not getting the data or the visibility that they wanted.
We see social applications helping deliver on the basic sales force automation value proposition that traditional CRM has struggled to provide.