Call me crazy (as many of you have), but I don’t see the separation of “listening tools” and “CRM systems” lasting too much longer. We have actually seen a few acquisitions over the past few months such as Jive acquiring Filtrbox, Lithium acquiring Scout Labs, Meltwater acquiring Buzzgain, Attensity acquiring Biz 360, and several others. We haven’t really seen CRM companies acquire listening tools (have we?). We have seen many vendors build integrations with one another but with the recent focus and announcement at the CRM Evolution conference that analytics is the largest missed opportunity, it seems as though integrations aren’t really going to be enough and that CRM systems need to actually acquire and fully integrate listening and monitoring into their offering.
Some of you might remember the Social CRM process diagram that I put together (with some great feedback from Mitch Lieberman).
In the diagram above (which of course is far from perfect but perhaps a good starting point) we see that a listening tool feeds the information into a CRM system which already has a rich database of customer history. With Social CRM, doesn’t it make more sense for CRM systems to actually provide the listening and monitoring functionality themselves or do you think the integrations we are seeing today are sufficient? For example, I think it would be very interesting to correlate and overlay customer social activity with transaction history or perhaps customer preference information that is found in a CRM system. This could make for some interesting customer segmentation. For example a company could tell if people that interact with the company via Facebook spend more money than those that interact with the company via Twitter (and how much more and when, I haven’t seen this yet, have you?). Cloud 9 analytics should be working on doing something around this which should be very interesting (they are built on top of Salesforce).
Advantages to CRM systems acquiring listening tools
- CRM systems will be able to offer a much deeper level of integration with listening tools as opposed to what most people refer to as “bolt on” integration
- Listening tools will now be able to close the loop on customer history and response recording
- Flexibility increases as CRM systems should be able to do a lot of “cool” things with the data they pull and integrate from listening tools
- The admin experience would perhaps be more seamless and easier to manage on the back-end instead of having to access multiple tabbed windows for management
Just thinking out loud here but it just seems to make sense that CRM systems acquire listening/monitoring tools. What do you think? Does this make sense? Why or why not? Just my opinion, what say you? Perhaps someone with a stronger vendor background can explain why this may or may not be a good idea?