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Social CRM Searches for a Place in the Enterprise.

by Michael Maoz  |  April 27, 2011  |  4 Comments

The rise of Social Media inside of the enterprise is a bit akin to the follow-on to Odysseus’ initial success in Troy: ten years lost at sea. The concept of “Social” is certainly out there – reaching every department, looking for a home, finding many false starts and frustrating turns. But the heads of IT have their own preening Mnesteres to contend with, and this powerful set of interests is keeping businesses from coming up with an overall strategy.

What has to happen? Someone has to have the power to set up a “Social Center of Excellence.” And that someone should be IT. Not marketing and not customer service. IT. Why? In a way, IT – at its best – is Switzerland. It wants to engineer great things with tremendous precision and just be recognized for their great talent.

The other departments? Well, they are either profit centers, cost centers, or cost centers undergoing transformation to profit centers.  IT should be the master of the technologically possible. The arbiters of what is cool and differentiating in business applications and how they could impact key processes.

Right now it is Marketing that has all of the social toys. Everyone gets that: they have the budget. And they largely have defined the rules of social: it’s about impressions and eyeballs and hits and sentiment. And in a secular cycle of greater profits, they are looking good. Yet as “social” becomes more ubiquitous, the loose threads of social CRM initiatives spread across the enterprise and fray: on the website, on fan pages, in forums, mining Twitter, listening to social sites, embedded in customer service, run by ad agencies – there is mini-chaos.

IT can, and should, own the Social Center of Excellence (CoE). To do that it will have to show more vision around not only the key technologies but the most compelling social processes for collaboration, engagement, and participation that are consistent with driving growth and profitability. That last part of the sentence means metrics – ROI metrics that are mostly just shards that need to be reassembled from bits scattered across departments and functions. And those pieces may not all fit together today.

What are you seeing? Is IT up to the task of a CoE?

Category: applications  crm  customer-centric-web  innovation-and-customer-experience  leadership  social-crm  social-networking  social-software  strategic-planning  twitter  

Michael Maoz
VP Distinguished Analyst
13 years at Gartner
26 years IT industry

Michael Maoz is a research vice president and distinguished analyst in Gartner Research. His research focuses on CRM and customer-centric Web strategies. Mr. Maoz is the research leader for both the customer service and support strategies area and customer-centric Web… Read Full Bio


Thoughts on Social CRM Searches for a Place in the Enterprise.


  1. Jan Aquarius says:

    It will only be up to the task of Social CoE when their role in the company will change. Not at this moment where they are mostly managing purely IT and are not enough involved in the business. I’m sure the shift towards more cloud-based (public) solutions can give the IT department the possibility to become more involved in the business side of the company. But even then, they should be commercial minded IT folks in order to take the social CRM responsibility.

  2. Brian Wood says:

    While it clearly makes sense for there to be a CoE for all things social in an enterprise, I am not sure it belongs in any one department. IT is key in terms of, as you say, being the master of the technologically possible, but I think a CoE benefits greatly from being staffed by members of many departments. The idea of giving high potential individuals in many areas of the business rotating assignments to the CoE seems to be appropriate. We have found that this works very well for BI CoEs, and promotes the cross-fertilization of ideas across the enterprise. It provides a mechanism for sharing and disseminating the technically possible, while incubating innovative business ideas, and acting as a catalyst for broader adoption of both.

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