The Consumer’s Electronic Identity and the Merging of E-Commerce and Social Networking

Last night I was online taking care of some financial business with Chase, arranging potential travel for this summer and social networking. I bring this up because it highlights the fact that everybody has different online personas, identities if you will, leaving your own electronic footprint in your wake.

I mention this because a former colleague recently forwarded me this forwarding-looking Forrester report on how these identities are beginning to transform businesses’ e-commerce efforts, including marketing, CRM, you name it.

We’ve already seen how community-driven feedback is allowing consumers to communicate directly about products, services and brands. But what about when these electronic footprints we leave, or Internet identities, are tracked and become portable? E-commerce sites could begin to turn into social sites, making brands more “social.”

In the end, I think it’s going to be about social networks and e-commerce sites starting to merge, making traditional social networking information, such as profiles and connecting or friend features, into actual e-commerce indicators as to who you are as a customer, what you’ve purchased in the past, and what offerings and discounts you should offer them moving forward. In short, CRM.

From our standpoint, it’ll be our job to ensure that CRM offerings have the ability to accept, digest, and input this data into a measurable format on a CRM system; the push with social networking, Web 2.0, and other data import connectors is the first step in this process. It’ll be critical that CRM vendors make this transition, because I can picture a time when these e-commerce, social network-detecting sites start to become just as important as a company’s CRM system.