In his podcast over at his blog Random Thoughts of A Boston-Based CTO, John Moore asked the question, “Have we crossed the chasm to social CRM?” In it he references a webinar he will be attending the following day which poses that question. His cast is only 4:48, so I encourage you to listen to it.
I am the lead staff for CRM in one of my organization’s geographical divisions. I cannot speak for the business or nonprofit sectors; I can only relate my experience in my division. What I think John is really asking is, “Overall, has CRM seen a successful implementation in those organizations that have adopted it?”
Let Me Throw Some Gas On The Fire
I’d like to challenge several assumptions here.
First, are you sure that social CRM is THE next step in the evolution of CRM? What if it’s true for a certain number of organizations, but not others. What if only a segment of organizations find that embracing social CRM meets their needs? Couldn’t there be a sizeable segment(s) of organizations who share the common characteristic that Social CRM doesn’t meet their needs (in the sense that they can show a profit and meet their business goals without it)?
Second, if you Google “CRM,” you’ll find plenty of thought leaders, vendors, and others weighing in. They all talk about the difficulty of successful implementation (and they’re right). The perception I get when reading and listening to those conversations is that there is no middle ground. You’re either a success or a failure.
I posit that there’s a middle ground. My model here is change management. You have the old way (the first category) the transitional phase (the second category) and the new way (the third category).
My organization falls into the middle category. We implemented CRM in 2002. We struggled with it because like many, we made mistakes. But there was unwavering support from the top and a group of dedicated staff who believed in it and we slowly evolved our model to make it more effective. We are showing success in many areas, yet in others we still struggle with user adoption and other basic obstacles.
In Search Of A Better Analogy
I’m not sure who came up with the “chasm” concept. I see it not as a chasm needing to be crossed, but an ocean needing to be sailed. On one level, I believe that my organization is closer to the end of its journey through this middle category than to the beginning. But really, on another level, this is the never-ending journey. Different mutations of CRM such as social CRM, CEM, Vendor CRM, etc have sprung up over the years with greater or lesser success. Each organization needs to determine how these new permutations fit its needs and resources.
I’m betting that there are plenty of organizations still sailing across the CRM ocean weathering storms, calms, and icebergs. Some have made it to the other side and are successful. Others have turned back. But there’s still quite a bit of traffic in the middle.
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