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For the last few years the web has been buzzing as more and more people have been using social media applications such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Inevitably organisations have been wondering how they can leverage these applications in the way they do business. Out of this the term Social CRM has been born to try and describe new ways organisations can engage with their customers via these channels. In this blog I will take a look at what this all means in terms of the SAP product portfolio, in particular around CRM.

There are many theories and discussions floating around the internet about what Social CRM is and what it means to organisations and consumers alike. I am not going to go into detail about Social CRM itself, but rather will point you in the direction of some very well thought out definitions that are already out there. However to borrow Paul Greenberg’s one-liner, Social CRM is “The company’s response to the customer’s control of the conversation”.

So what’s already out there?

So far the lead has been taken by smaller software vendors such as Jive and Lithium. They have been  positioned as leaders in Social CRM by Gartner for their offerings which encompass social marketing, sales, customer support and social media monitoring. Within this quadrant SAP isn’t yet featured at all.

Some of SAPs competitors however are catching up. Recently Salesforce.com has bought Radian6 – one of the leading Social Media monitoring tools – to integrate across its sales and service offerings. However it remains to be seen exactly how this is going to be integrated. In addition Oracle (see Accept360 for Oracle CRM Keeps Track of Good Ideas) and IBM (see IBM Moves Social Media Analytics to the Cloud) have also announced Social media aspects to their CRM offerings this year

There are also many other options out there, especially in the SME space, as can be seen in the CRM Idol competition running for the smaller vendors. All the more reason for SAP to make a move you would think.

What is SAP doing?

Well in a recent blog, Mark Yolton, Senior Vice President SAP Community Network, described the great work that SAP has and is doing in the Social Media space via their SCN channel and the power of utilising social networks for real business benefit. However this is more about how they integrate with their own customers rather than what tools they are providing within their product suite to help their customers realise the same benefits. This does however demonstrate that SAP has been leading a lot of the thinking in this area.

Despite this, there is currently nothing offered out of the box in the SAP CRM platform, even in the CRM 7.0 Enhancement Pack 1 (EhP1) release which is due imminently. However there are some add-ons developed by SAP available via the SAP EcoHub for their customers to purchase on top of the standard solutions. These include the integration of Twitter with Marketing and Customer Service, and Facebook with Marketing.

These have in fact been around for the past 2 years and it appears that SAP has been biding its time a little bit to try and determine where the real business need is going to be and indeed where the IT dollar will be spent. So with spending in this area now predicted to increase rapidly and momentum growing what else has SAP got up it’s sleeve?

Well the traditional CRM channels are covered via the Marketing and Service add-ons and this is a good place to start when organisations are considering their social strategies. However Social CRM also offers organisations the ability to gather insight about their customers and products based on the on-line conversations permeating these Social Media channels. And this is where there is real potential: the ability to find out what a customer is thinking.

The analysis of this data is termed Sentiment Analysis and can be split into Organisational Sentiment Analysis (OSA) based on internal polls, forums and the like; and Public Sentiment Analysis (PSA) based on external sources including Twitter and Facebook. SAP has developed BusinessObjects Text Analysis to provide the analysis capability and SAP StreamWork to provide the collaboration tools. In fact SAP has recently announced the possibility to integrate StreamWork across all SAP business software, including CRM, thus indicating that this is the future of Social Media integration with the CRM application.

However there are many questions remaining about how best to properly harness Social Media not least how to integrate all this new found knowledge into your processes and strategy, and prevent your teams from drowning in a sea of data. In addition the news that twitter traffic may have peaked just goes to show that the technologies are far from guaranteed as well. So maybe it’s right that none of this is yet featured as standard within SAP CRM.

So whilst there are a number of options and avenues through which SAP CRM can be social, there is still plenty of scope for it to become a fully fledged social animal.

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  1. Stephen Johannes
    First off great observations and luckily in this case there is still some time before social crm processes are mainstream where it becomes an issue that causes the traditional SAP CRM suite to move lower in the magic quadrants.

    Your blog shows the problem with CRM 7.0 EHP1 being delayed to 2011.  The fixes in EHP1 address needs identified in 2009 and unfortunately social CRM was moving way too fast compared to the product lifecycle for SAP to make anything part of standard.

    At this point I would expect social CRM components for SAP CRM to be continued be as cost extra bolt-on’s instead of core.  Especially with a innovation strategy for CRM that now forces CRM to move at the slow pace of ERP instead of at the pace of the CRM market.

    Hopefully this is not SAP’s way to trying to get all us on-premise folks move to the on-demand product when it is ready.  Should be interested to find out where things are going at SAPPHIRE next week.

    Take care,

    Stephen

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    1. Tony Rosenthal Post author
      Thanks for the input Stephen.

      I believe that it was thought for a while that some of the twitter like integration would indeed be a part of EhP1, however that has not materialised – whether by design or otherwise.

      However I agree with you in that at the moment it is no bad thing. There are still lots of unknowns in the area of Social CRM – not least its definition – and at least some options exist for the on-premise guys even if they are not delivered in the core.

      Regards,
      Tony

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      1. Stephen Johannes
        Yes social CRM is exactly where SMS was about in 2005/2006.  SAP until the sybase acquistion had chosen to ignore SMS support in the Netweaver stack(no SMPP support).  Before the geeks say you can send SMS via e-mail with SAPconnect, just realize that solution is not compatible with shortcode SMS campaigns.  Instead most of SAP’s customers went with 3rd party mobile campaign management tools.  It was either because there was not enough demand from the SAP install base, or SAP did not see the demand.

        I also think that even in 2011 the social media adoption rate where it becomes a normal channel to perform customer communications is much lower than I would expected back in 2009.  I think much of is due to lack of traction in the B2B sector.  B2C seems to be about where I would expect it based on what I knew in 2009.

        Take care,

        Stephen

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  2. Peter Scholtens
    Good post. Some of your readers may be interested in seeing the SAP CRM with SAP StreamWork integration here — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FvuNi3Tygqg

    In response to Stephen’s comment, SAP StreamWork, while it is an on-demand service, is hybrid on-premise/on-demand. With the Enterprise edition is an on-premise component for IT to manage users, (de)provision from LDAP/Active Directory, SSO, and on-premise audit database with reports for admins. And, in terms of integration, it’s not about replacing what you are doing on-premise, it’s about augmenting that, so you can keep those elements on premise while still allowing you to engage easily with customers and business partners.

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    1. Stephen Johannes
      Yep the streamwork integration concept is definitely a great idea by SAP.  I would also agree building the solutions outside the core, is a smart idea right now.  The problem is that what is “edge” is now, can become core down the road.

      The problem is not necessarily that SAP is delivering these extensions, it’s when/how should these extensions become part of the core process.  That’s the risk of building a whole bunch of “bolt-ons” that core needs in order to be competitive.

      I see this problem with mobile and social crm.  Yes it’s a great revenue opportunity to sell more, but if those “extras” are really the evolution of core processes, it devalues the core solution. 

      Thus I would argue that right now out of box SAP CRM does not have social capabilities built in unless you buy something extra.  I’m not going to say that it’s the same as a car dealer charging you for floor mats, but more like charging for power steering, or power brakes.

      Take care,

      Stephen

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      1. Peter Scholtens
        Agreed that we at SAP need to manage this right.

        SAP StreamWork is more about embedding a network than a feature part and as such adds more value to SAP CRM. StreamWork is or will soon be embedded within other enterprise apps internally — we also announced BI Platform (aka BOBJ Enterprise), PLM, Strategy Mgmt, etc integrations, existing Google Apps and other partner connections, and with REST APIs, SAML, OAuth, etc – lots more can and will be done. So, it’s not only providing the feature benefit of an important means of collaboration and engagement within SAP CRM, it’s able let that user keep up with events from across their business, keep up with their CRM work even while working in other apps, and engage with their whole eco-system whether those people use that “core” or not.

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        1. Stephen Johannes
          Peter,

          I don’t think I was downplaying the complementary solutions that enhance the value of the core solution.  In fact I think the value proposition of streamwork with SAP CRM in terms of cost and design is great.  It’s something that down the road I could see becoming part of the CRM implementation I support, when our budget/business readiness would allow.  It definitely solves a gap in some of the business processes that SAP CRM alone can’t provide(especially in opportunity management).

          I also think streamwork is much like the iPad you best understand it when you use it.  That’s a compliment not a complaint. 

          At the end of day let’s see where everything pans out in two years and I’m sure both of our opinions will have changed.

          Take care,

          Stephen

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          1. Peter Scholtens
            Ha – yes, sorry, I didn’t really feel we were disagreeing but I wanted to add more detail for readers of the thread what StreamWork integration is about.
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