For my CIO friends and clients, I understand why you shake your heads a bit over Social CRM. “What do they want from my life, these sales and marketing and customer service directors? Everyone else has to come with a business case, but the Social Mavens? They bring me the logic of a Winchester House.” It’s one thing to ask them about custom code, Cloud Security, semantic models and authentication and e-discovery and systems integration, mobile computing or ERP - they can help you out with any of these. These are real technologies solving real problems. But cotton candy (or candy floss for those who still think the best tree is the family tree of Alfred the Great) notions of ‘outside-in’ and Crowd-Sourcing and ‘voice of the customer’ are not in the CIO’s vocabulary. Not even in their dictionary. And the lines of business have not provided them with a look-up table or a glossary.
It’s amazing that CIOs have been as tolerant of Social CRM projects as they have. Since so many US corporations are floating atop oceans of cash, IT can at least point to a few underfunded and under-resourced “Social” projects as signs of innovation. Mammoth amounts of money flow into the maintenance of ERP systems and legacy applications and custom development (i.e., 99% of the budget) with little regard to issues of revenue growth, customer retention and new customer capture. Read the business section of just about any newspaper across the globe: you won’t find CEOs focused on these issues and directing the CIO towards the same. Maybe they mention Social CRM or Social Media at a conference, far from shareholders, but when they get back to the office? Mum’s the word.
To seal the deal, so much of the technology and so many of the applications to run a Social CRM initiative are Cloud-based, or cobbled together with Consumer-Grade technologies (i.e., free and easily accessible to anyone with Web access), that the lines of business most involved with Social CRM projects don’t invite the CIO to the party.
Is this situation so bad? It is from the perspective that the CIO holds the keys to the IT castle, and sooner or later Social projects will need to be embedded in core processes. Maybe that will take three to five years, but it will happen. That means integration, process modelling, data security, and scalability: jobs that the CIO knows very well. But why wait until then? Marketing and sales and service directors could do everyone a favor and, at a minimum, create notional arguments about return on initiative – something that can be assessed and used in a budget meeting. Yes, it is not always fun to be a grownup, but at least if you are grounded in economics your Social project won’t be.