It’s not exactly a secret that SalesForce Chatter has been largely a flop so far. So why has Marc Benioff doubled down on his social enterprise investment with Do.com? Or why did Microsoft pay $1.2 billion for Yammer and push so hard for integration with Dynamics? The answer is simple – social intranet is quickly gobbling up CRM. How quickly? According to recent Bitrix24 report, 8% of their users stopped using standalone CRM or project management tools when they switched to a social intranet that had these functions. And it all makes perfect sense.
Last month, Tony Zingale categorically stated in his ZDNet interview that “the Facebook for the enterprise rap is dead.” Nobody wants communications for the sake of communications. Equally so nobody wants CRM for the sake of CRM any longer. Customer relationship management is getting increasingly social, and being able to quickly get in touch with a right person in accounting or tech support departments is often a matter of making a sale/losing a customer or not. Salespeople are ‘getting it’.
CRM makers seem to ‘get it’ as well – at least most of them. Zoho has recently added a document collaboration library to its CRM module, understanding how important it is to be able share files and edit documents inside a CRM. SalesForce’s acquisition of social enterprise tools is quite impressive – Rypple, Buddy Media, ThinkFuse, ChoicePass, Assistly and GoInstant. That shopping list totals close to one billion dollars in a little over a year.
Social intranet providers understand that CRM is key to their success as well. Bitrix24, for instance, is currently the fastest growing social intranet service for small businesses largely because it offers free CRM for companies with 12 employees or fewer. It’s already the top or number 2 CRM providers in emerging markets like Russia. Even HootSuite seems to be betting its future on collaborative intranet.
It’s only a matter of time before these two trends converge. The leaders of the CRM market are already expanding the footprint of their products toward social, while social intranet providers have discovered that offering tools like CRM is critical to their success. So if you are a CRM without collaboration or a social intranet without CRM – your days are numbered.
How are CRM and social intranet likely to merge? It’s important to note that social intranet isn’t just an internal platform for blogs and discussions any longer; rather it’s a collaboration platform for employees that encompasses project management, time tracking, document management, idea exchange, business processes and e-learning, among other things.
Likewise, CRM users like having (and increasingly demand) the option send and receive notifications from other team members, share and coordinate with others’ daily schedules, automatically send documents to other departments, start workflows, and do other things that are typically outside the scope of classic CRM solution. In short, CRM needs to be fully integrated with enterprise resource planning, HR management systems, and increasingly with social media tools in order to be fully effective. Private enterprise networks that have adopted a social intranet model provide the perfect platform for this deep integration.