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Dell Drives The Social Media CRM Market

I’ve been speaking with the folks at both Radian6 and Visible Technologies in recent days, to follow up on earlier work I’d completed on a Dell case study for in the case of Visible Technologies, and a response from my linkedin inquiry on social CRM from Radian6 about the pace of change in the social media analysis tool market.

I believe Dell is driving the pace of development in the media monitoring tool industry through its drive for an understanding of the voice of the customer, and how Dell responds to customer opportunities in social media. (If you think of other brands or other vendors that are at the forefront I’d be glad to hear your opinion.)

I first interviewed Richard Binhammer at Dell for Joseph Jaffe's book, and discovered that Dell was developing an infrastructure for social media customer service using a lot of manual tools. Then in December of 2007 I interviewed Richard again and he told me about his work with Visible Technologies and the TruCast product.

The TruCast product enables brands to listen to customers but also builds a workflow process for assigning customer opportunities to people within a company. You can respond to a customer within the TruCast product. I was amazed by the sophistication of the product and its integration with customer management workflow processes.

Richard then met with the folks at Radian6, I believe one of the first meetings was probably at the SNCR conference in California, and liked their product because of the speed at which the product displayed social media opportunities.  It was my understanding for Dell it was critical to display opportunities as quickly as possible, in case the company had to respond rather than wait for any triaging process and placement of content on a social media website by a technology. In addition Ricard’s preference at Dell was for using social media tools for writing comments and other interactions rather than using a technology tool to place content. The one disadvantage with the Radian6 product would be that you might have to do extra work to track any content that was placed in social media. I do understand that TruCast has since updated their system to allow the user to find opportunities but also work within the workflow process and that Dell is using both Radian6 & TruCast.

Over the last six months Radian6 has also developed a number of CRM features that mean companies are able to find opportunities, triage the social media opportunity, and then send the incident to someone within a company to deal with. There is some integration with You can send data to, but really CRM management still exists within the Radian6 tool. Dell drove a lot of the development of these features at Radian6 just as they did with Visible Technologies.

I suspect we are still in the early days of media monitoring/CRM integration, and that companies like Visible and Radian6 will either integrate their tools with CRM vendors, get purchased, or the CRM vendors will think about developing their own monitoring tools.

What’s interesting to me is that the customer, in this case Dell is driving the pace of development in the industry. The tool vendors really need to anticipate what customers will want next. I think customers require better integration with existing CRM packages.

I also see that tool vendors will open up more opportunities with customers by demonstrating how companies can use their products for sales 2.0 relationship building. With sales 2.0 a marketing and sales team uses social media monitoring tools to gather intelligence on companies and a customer buying group, so any intelligence gathered in social media about a customer influences the buying process from the sales pitch team, but there is an opportunity for a vendor to conduct a dialogue with a customer that means that a customer learns and builds relationships with a vendor through social media. What would be interesting is to develop other web 3.0 tools that enable a company to develop usable intelligence on a customer. Perhaps identifying what communities are most important to a client’s buying group.

Finally, as the leader in the industry I have a question for Dell, (Richard Binhammer most likely) what do you see is the future for these tools?