What is IT’s Role in the Social CRM Revolution?

Cruel dictator? Benevolent gatekeeper? Ignorant chump? All these words could describe your IT department’s stance to social media and how your organization drives business value out of the social revolution.

Really, what is the ideal role for IT when it comes to adding social tools into the day-to-day life of sales, marketing and support agents?

I am not saying I have the answers. )If I did, I wouldn’t be blogging about it while shirking my duties getting Sugar 6 out the door ;)) But it is an important question to ask, and I think your previous IT decision (especially in CRM) will dictate how much IT should or must be involved in this stage of your CRM lifecycle.

What I mean by that is that many older, and current proprietary approaches to CRM make it very hard for the end-user to add full featured tools like Twitter or SalesView into their CRM interface and processes without jumping through hoops with IT. For some, this is a good thing. For others, it is a headache.

It all depends on how you view the concept of control. Do you want to lord it over your employees, or do you want to empower them?

I use the SalesView example because it is a great one in terms of playing both sides of the field; it took me about four minutes to get SalesView installed into my SugarCRM installation. But that is because I had admin rights. As an average everyday CRM non-admin user, I can consume the valuable data in SalesView without embedding it in my CRM system – but the overall value and productivity gains are diminished.  So, I can expand beyond my IT-controlled database and circumvent IT in some simple ways – but to fully gain the value of social CRM and sales 2.0 – IT has to have some bit of involvement.

There are a LOT of “social CRM” projects and offerings popping up.  The pro is that they are simple to get up and running and can help a business professional make sense of his social web as it pertains to his work life. But the downside is that these are not true CRM tools, and can not replace the strong, centralized CRM system’s value.

Again, I don;t have the answers. But for now – it seems that to truly drive the most value out of social CRM – a balance must be struck between empowered individuals and the governance of IT.

3 thoughts on “What is IT’s Role in the Social CRM Revolution?

  1. Martin,

    I believe CRM platforms should allow users to install apps in their account/instance, without having to require IT. It would give customers the option of enabling apps across their install base, or just for an individual (without impact the other users). It would dramatically reduce friction, complexity and free users to make their CRM more productive without being limited by .

  2. Thanks for the comment Umberto. I agree – we are new at bringing in a lot of the social media tools – but this has been a “bottom up” revolution where the end user is bringing these tools in and expects to use them with the IT-managed apps. We have to work harder at making a lot of things easier: loading CRM with personal network data, third party data services and aggregators (like Inside View), and analytics apps for both personal networks and for larger brands. Then we can start to see more positive and well-structured/documented ROI success stories among the social business and sales 2.0 user organizations out there.

    -Martin

  3. Pingback: CRM Outsiders » Blog Archive » The Socialization of IT

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