Social CRM and Constellations

It’s been an interesting week further exploring the topic of Social Networking and Customer Service. Having a background in database, BI and now search technologies, I have been through my fair share of hype cycles, so am working on getting a better sense of the current state of the application and technology space. It is little surprise that Gartner places Social CRM: Customer Service at the peak of the hype cycle for Social Software (2009) with 2 to 5 years lead time to mainstream adoption and the related Social CRM: Community Marketing as on the rise with 5 to 10 years to mainstream adoption.

There is certainly no shortage of debate on the definition, scope and relative viability of social CRM (SCRM). Check out Social CRM: Strategy, Technology or Passing Fad? by Bob Thompson, for a recent opinion and some cross references to others’ thoughts. It’s clear that interest and momentum is high but plenty of room remains for clarification. I, for one, would like to see more in the way of reference use cases across CRM and adjacent functions to better understand processes, data usage and interdependencies. I just can’t imagine adoption hitting stride until companies can see how functional pieces and related data need fit together. All you have to do is take a look at Gartner’s rather crowded Social Software hype cycle to get a sense of potential process and data overlaps and the accompanying urge to tap the breaks a bit. Paul Greenberg, a regular contributor to ZDNet, promises more discussion on related business models and strategies..

We see that companies are beginning to get a sense of the social conversations that involve their products and services. A subset of those companies is having direct conversations with customers through social media channels. For example, one of my good friends does PR for a video game company and is crushed by the need to address misinformation and negative sentiment and to bring some control to the conversation about his clients. We look forward to going beyond the hype – seeing more examples of how companies are really building the processes and technologies around social CRM.

At Exalead, we’re working on Social CRM related technologies. Constellations is an Exalead Labs experiment that looks at connections between people and between web sites. It presents a graph of related Web sites or people.  The experiment is built upon our Web index. The approach to relating people and things is flexible and can be based upon a configurable set of factors.