I'm in the final stages of writing an article for SAS's magazine on CRM Trends. Without giving away the farm, one of the trends I forecast was that customer analytics would begin to integrate social data - profile information, feedback from social sites like blogs, social networks, etc. I saw it coming big time in 2010 - though with some coming online sooner than that. Well, imagine my surprise when about 20 minutes after I wrote that I got an email from a Launchsquad (one of the cooler PR firms out there - goes by the definition of small, nimble, contemporary) PR agent, Julia Davis, about a company called InsideView. They had this product called "SalesView" (probably could have a sexier name, but it'll do for now). The idea? They draw data from 20,000 (you read right - TWENTY THOUSAND) sources including a significant group of social sites. That data is then analyzed for primarily sales purposes so that you can get the granular information you need to improve your chances of winning opportunities. Doesn't sound particularly interesting or unique? It is. They call it is a "socialprise" application (MUCH better name) which they define as:
The natural convergence of social media and enterprise applications, emerging as a mash-up of both the information and user experience of these previously separate universes.I see it more as the convergence and analysis of left and right brained information for business purposes. That means that they not only gather the data that we're all familiar with from Hoovers and CNN and Dun and Bradstreet, not only do they gather the structured data and the data from free sites, but they gather the social data - the data from social sites such as profiles and actions - and the data from paid subscriptions (they pay for it and you get it with their "Pro" and "Team" versions, which you pay for. Their basic version is free - the model is based on the Chris Anderson (of Long Tail fame) Wired article "Free: Why $0.00 is the Future of Business") and they have a system of alerts and triggers that will start working with the data to inform you of your customized changes to something - whether a business condition or a social "condition." This seems to be a deeper version of what Oracle CRM on Demand 15 is offering with their enterprise mashup. The difference is in the number of sources and the level of functional depth that each of them seems to have with Salesview being vendor-agnostic - at least in general - though currently it only integrates with salesforce.com and SugarCRM - two good choices - and there are other CRM vendors in the pipeline including Microsoft. Hey, this is the release day. Give them a chance to do more, will ya!? Ultimately, the value is a similar value that Sara Lacy, the BusinessWeek reporter who was blasted for her Marc Zuckerberg Southwest Interactive Conference (SWSX) onstage interview ascribed to Twitter:
"If you follow a friend on Twitter, you never start a conversation with "What's up?" because you know what's up. Instead you ask something like, "How was the dentist this morning?" It fosters an intimacy rarely seen outside a college or collaborative work setting."The difference with Twitter (aside from the actual application) is that this "fostered intimacy" is in a business setting and designed to deepen the relationship with the opportunity and those associated with it. The idea is better response for sales and marketing efforts. I love this whole new approach for Enterprise 2.0 and to some degree, though with reservations about the approach, not the product, for CRM 2.0. Conceptually, what I hear from InsideView's CMO, the absolutely awesome Rand Schulman, a Silicon Valley veteran (for example, co-founder of the Web Analytics Association) is truly the first product that actually is built to integrate CRM and social data in valuable and useful ways. Here's their technical diagram which also indicates just a few of the sources and how it all interacts. Worth a peek - especially at the part of the stack titled "Data". Do I have concerns? Sure, as Rand and I discussed yesterday, the issue of who owns one's social profile is always a concern. I own my social profile. I'm licensing my social profile to a social network that I want to use to communicate and interact with my friends on. What do I think about a company that comes in and takes my info out without asking? Does that mean I lose my control? Yet, I don't really have any expectation of privacy of any major note - I'm putting it out there on the web - whether its within a social network frame or not AND my expectation of trust comes with the social network not SalesView. So that is an unknown I have to grapple with as well. I wil say, judging from my conversation with Rand, I'm comfortable with his concerns about the same and I know that he's addressing that as this product evolves. I can be patient and see how it plays out. The only other concern I have has nothing to do with Salesview and its the same concern that Chris Carfi had with Oracle's new CRM 2.0 applications and I share generally. Is this truly a CRM 2.0 application (or as Chris and Doc Searls would call it a VRM application. That's vendor relationship management for those of you who are truly out of the Coolness-In-CRM loop). In other words, this is still behind the corporate firewall and doesn't truly promote collaboration between the customer and the company (as a peer-to-peer thing). But, even CRM 2.0/VRM has an operational side that is behind the corporate firewall - the Enterprise 2.0 side. One concern I've always had is that the if we over-think and over-engage the Web 2.0 side of the customer engagement models that we're now developing than the baby (operational) will get thrown out with the bathwater. The company still has to function as a company and its the integration of social and operational that makes CRM 2.0 work. So I probably have the same concerns as Chris but less worries about whether or not truly part of the VRM/CRM 2.0 universe. I see it as part because the businesses still need to function as businesses. OK. Enough, no more, 'tis not as sweet as 'twas before - as Duke Orsino says in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night (see what a well-rounded person I am?). Let's get back to a final word on Salesview. I haven't seen the demo of the Pro version and like Loyalty Labs Marketing Platform 3.0, I'm writing to the promise of this newly released service. Until I see it in action & a production environment, this goes onto my "Must Watch" list (hear the rest of it in Episode #10 of Experience on the Edge - my podcast - up this Thursday). Hopefully, it will graduate to my "Steppin' Out Award finalist" list. Yes they are coming up soon. And something that has the promise of Salesview needs to prove that its not just the promise that I love, its the execution. I'm on their side here, hoping they do succeed. Because they could be very important.