BPM and CRM – Inside the Social Train or Outside?

There’s a little known business proverb, actually it’s little known because I’ve just made it up. It says that in business it’s easier to urinate out of the window of a moving train than it is to urinate in. This is why businesses acquire or partner with other businesses rather than start up new lines of business or try and catch up themselves.

Social networks are throwing the rule book, of how businesses engage with customers and with themselves, out the window. BPM and CRM applications are right in the middle of this change with their responsibility for both customer and business processes. As a result many BPM and CRM applications are starting to add social capabilities, rebranding themselves as social BPM or social CRM platforms. But is adding social capabilities to CRM and BPM applications a sensible approach? Is this approach the business equivalent of trying to urinate into a speeding train?

In a previous post I suggested that successful enterprise social solutions will require a cultural change within an organisation. Successful social adoption must be enterprise led rather than by individual departments. Businesses must have a strategy for social adoption rather than acquire social capabilities via the back door through their BPM and CRM suites.

Not all employees will have access to the BPM or CRM application. Where is the value in a social BPM or social CRM application only accessible by a fraction of the organisation? If an enterprise social network is to be successful it needs to have enterprise wide reach, it must reach everyone the process can reach.

BPM and CRM applications should integrate with social applications rather than embed or mimic or social capabilities within their suites. BPM applications already orchestrate ECM, CRM and legacy applications so why would social applications be treated differently?  Why not integrate with the best of breed enterprise and public social networks instead of developing in house?

The social train has left the station, the best BPM and CRM applications can do is try and get on at the next station. Choo! Choo!

3 thoughts on “BPM and CRM – Inside the Social Train or Outside?

  1. Hi Peter. I’m an advocate for your sentiment on the issue of change management, executive buy-in, and having an adoption strategy that permeates the entire organisation.

    However, in my experience I’d rather a social CRM project is implemented in a small pocket of a company and given a chance to grow organically than not implemented at all for any number of macro reasons (assuming of course this does not create data integrity, process, workflow, customer issues that lead to losses in overall functionality).

    Much can be gained from harnessing a few ‘champions’ of the cause and seeing it in action.

    • Hi Craig, I agree with your point about organic growth being the ideal path but kinda wonder whether, in such a small group, this could be classed as social rather than a unified communications platform??

      • Hi Peter, indeed there is a big difference between becoming a truly ‘social’ business and simply engaging with a few social platforms at varying levels. Nonetheless my point was merely to say that I think becoming social is as much cultural as it is strategic, like any major cultural change, it can develop over time.

        Again, I do agree with your sentiment however, and certainly feel that it should be planned and strategically positioned.

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