The idea of bringing together sales, CRM and social -- a trend broadly known as social CRM -- continues to gain traction in the enterprise.
According to Gartner, few sales organizations are experiencing much success using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social sites to drive opportunities, leads and transactions. Rather, to date the social networks have proven more valuable in building brand awareness and customer loyalty.
That doesn't mean social CRM won't ultimately help sales organizations with leads and more traditional sales functions. But it will take a while to get there. "Social media, combined with CRM, will eventually help drive opportunities and sales revenue through harnessing the power of social media word of mouth and the insights it can provide on customers and prospects," said Gartner's Patrick Stakenas.
Enterprise Apps Today recently published a list of nine social CRM startups that are going after the burgeoning market. Here, we take a look at four more companies that are making progress in this field.
LexisNexis InterAction (or LN InterAction) is working on a new version of its software that will be announced later this year that is said to include a leap forward in social CRM capabilities.
LN InterAction is designed for professional service organizations such as law, consulting and accounting firms as a means of integrating information into a single source of truth and ensuring the right information can be found easily. While these industries are interested in social CRM, they must be mindful of regulatory requirements. The legal industry, for example, has very specific guidelines that must be met in terms of capturing, storing and sharing of information.
InterAction also helps establish who knows who. It draws attention to who in the firm has the strongest links to a particular person or organization. It can be deployed as an email add-in alongside an email client. InterAction for Microsoft Outlook can be used to view existing information about a contact or add a recent interaction. Third-party sources, such as Dun & Bradstreet, can be integrated to provide supplemental data about a company or industry. Recently the company introduced several mobile versions of InterAction.
The cost of implementation can depend on the modules selected, number of users, professional services required and maintenance agreements.
"In the last 12 months deals have ranged between $10,000 for smaller organizations to $200,000 for very large international organizations," said Mike Baldwin, LexisNexis Interaction's senior product manager. "LexisNexis understands the business of law inside and out, and caters to all professional services clients in a way that the macro players cannot."
Messagemind can be implemented on-premise or in a private cloud. It works in the background, learning from activity in email, instant messaging, transactional systems such as CRM and BI, third-party databases like Dun & Bradstreet, and social networks like LinkedIn and Facebook. The goal is to consolidate contacts and map relationship networks for an organization while complying with privacy and security requirements. The software grades the strength of relationships with no user input required. In addition, it includes reporting and analytics.
It is sold on an annual subscription basis, with pricing based on the number of users.
"Messagemind is the only complete solution for mapping enterprise social intelligence," said Manish Sood, Messagemind's CEO and founder. "The technology finds vital information that is buried in mailboxes and social media systems, adds data from third-party sources and integrates with leading systems such as Salesforce.com and SharePoint to deliver a holistic view to maximize individual and organizational effectiveness."
Since it is software-as-a-service (SaaS), Artesian Solutions' software can be accessed through a browser and set up quickly. The platform can run independently or embedded with other software components through email and mobile applications. Alternatively, Artesian can integrate directly with Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics or adopt a hybrid approach. It costs £600 per user (about $900 U.S.), per annum.
This tool seeks to personalize output to each business user. Artesian monitors millions of websites. By keeping an eye on this mountain of information, it aims to serve users with the specific sales intelligence they need.
"Using natural language processing to deal with social data, Artesian provides insight about customers and prospects, as well as their opinions which can be used to shape conversations and help sales," said Andrew Yates, CEO and co-founder of Artesian Solutions. "It can also push insights to mobile devices."
Ni3 by Social Vision is said to sit at the junction of traditional enterprise applications, business intelligence and social network analysis. Based in Switzerland, Social Vision has released a CRM-based network analytics package that aims to reveal a picture of hidden/informal relationships and power structures within networks of people. It does this by aggregating content from multiple data sources across the enterprise and supplementing it with specialized market research and data from social sites like Twitter and LinkedIn, as well as online news sites.
It is available as an embedded application which seeks to add analytics and visualization capabilities to apps such as Siebel, SAP CRM, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, NetSuite, Oracle CRM On Demand and Salesforce.com.
Drew Robb is a freelance writer specializing in technology and engineering. Currently living in California, he is originally from Scotland, where he received a degree in geology and geography from the University of Strathclyde. He is the author of Server Disk Management in a Windows Environment (CRC Press).