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Social Media and the End of CRM.

by Michael Maoz  |  June 20, 2011  |  6 Comments

It is not too soon to call the end of the business process known as CRM as we have known it. It is the “Management” word that kills it. When Sun Tzu writes The Art of War somewhere in sixth-century China, he outlines the need for discipline around defining the challenge, creating a plan of attack, engaging the enemy force in decisive terms. Whether you follow Tzu or General Patton or Frederick Taylor, we still boil management down to strategies and policies, actions, analysis, and recursive steps to improve our mission, our vision, and our goals.

Enter “Social Networking” and Social Media and Social CRM, on the heals of business philosophers declaring the failure of Customer Relationship Management efforts. The latter was weak analysis of business application deployments that failed to meet the promises dangled by the large consultancies that made billions of dollars selling the projects. Now businesses are dancing to the Trance music of Social. The rhythm is enticing, but there are just too many beats per minute for most business leaders: monitor, listen, poll, feeds, Tweets, posts, mobile platforms, Tablets, forums, crowd sourcing, voting, outside-in processes.  Businesses are attempting to onboard all of these new Social Media tools and processes, and keep your ongoing customer efforts for marketing, sales and customer service, while moving all of the business applications supporting the existing customer initiatives to the Cloud.

This is why I see an end, temporarily, to the CRM that was in place for 12 years. Organizations have come to the tacit (not stated, not explicit) conclusion that they cannot accomplish the goal of managing the customer relationship centrally. The resources cannot be rallied because there are too many parallel initiatives under way, and decision making has devolved on departments and geographies to meet the onslaught.

The end of CRM classic does not mean the beginning of another clear trend. It is more likely that organizations will re-focus on an expanded definition of CRM that includes the Social dimension. The need for the corporation or business or organization to think holistically about the customer will not go away. The current fascination with myriad departmental initiatives to meet changing customer demand at the expense of ownership at the top level comes at a cost. Without a roadmap you won’t get there unless you are lucky. And ‘there’ is a state of customer satisfaction with your business.

Are you seeing something similar? I’ll expand on some of these points next month, but it has been coming up with IT planners on client calls and meetings.

Category: applications  cloud  crm  innovation-and-customer-experience  it-governance  leadership  saas-and-cloud-computing  social-crm  social-networking  social-software  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 Media and the End of CRM.

  1. Peter Coffee says:

    In another quote from The Art of War, commentator Du Mu wrote: “Roll rocks down a ten-thousand-foot mountain, and they cannot be stopped — this is because of the mountain, not the rocks.” The rocks of a social transformation are rolling down the mountain of 24×7 connection at broadband speed, and that mountain is only getting higher: it’s a permanent ‘new normal’ that your customers and prospects will be able to find each other at least as easily as you can find them, so the only competitive options are to join that conversation as an influencer and to strive to be the best host for the party. It’s still CRM, but it’s inescapably and increasingly social.

  2. Kayvaan Ghassemieh says:

    Imagine if you tried to “manage” your personal relationships. You don’t. Because you can’t really “manage” a relationship. The word “manage” implies control. Imagine if you told your spouse that you plan to control your relationship. :) You can cultivate it. Nurture it. Advance, foster, develop, track, guide it. But “manage”. Doesn’t make much sense. And the social world is just highlighting that.

    But let’s not get hung up on semantics. Forward thinkers have known for years that it’s a conversation. And successful CRx products will help a business cultivate the conversation (the “relationship”) with customers and augment the conversation with real-time access to information from both sides, the ability to kick off actions and the ability for the business (AND the customer) to analyze and track the conversation.

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  5. Annette Dupuis says:

    if you change manage by memory, you’ll get closer to some of what happens in CRM. Memory, keeping the trace of what your customers (relations) wants, wanted had trouble with is very important in each relationship. Did you ever forget an important date? birthday of your spouse? your calendar is there to remind you. part of CRM is to keep track so that you do whatever you want with it. and this will not disappear.
    CRM is evolving as is everthing around us as if things do not evolve, they die.

  6. Agree – businesses must adapt and integrate certain aspects of social into their crm.

    More than ever now the buyer has the control of the relationship and they are utilizing various social channels. To understand and learn from this has become vital and all CRM should start to evolve with a social aspect.

    Look forward to the follow up article

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