Bringing Web 2.0 Behind the Firewall

Some of your employees have a blog — approved, of course — as do some of your customers. In addition, your employees have been posting videos from the latest trade show on your Web site, as well as on some of your partner Web sites. Your latest project is the funneling of customer comments from your forums into your product development pipeline.

If this sounds like your company, you’re ripe to white label a social networking platform that can bring all of this behind the firewall and integrate with your CRM functionality to boot. This scenario prompted the latest blog posting by George Dearing, corporate evangelist for Telligent, on how to pick the best vendor for the job.

“Increasingly, we are seeing more of the dialogue focus on bringing these social networking capabilities onto one platform, as opposed to questioning whether they should even be a corporate function,” Dearing told CRM Buyer.

Companies understand the basics of what they are looking for: the ability to brand the platform as their own, as well as maintain enterprise control over the content. Still, there is much more to gain, Dearing emphasizes.

For instance: “Does the vendor’s strength play unevenly towards certain elements of social computing. In other words, did they start out as a blog provider and magically reinvent themselves as as a platform play?”

Querying the vendors “social media credentials” is also important, adds Dearing. “You can quantify this pretty easily. Do they blog? Are they good at involving customers in the conversation? If they haven’t synchronized their own communications, there’s a good chance they can’t do it for you.”

Speaking of due diligence, John Benson discusses the trade-off a company makes with privacy when opting for a cloud computing delivery model.

“As a software developer, I was seduced by the incredible ubiquity and accessibility that browser-based apps provided. Now, however, I’m tending towards the view that if it’s personal, private or sensitive, it doesn’t belong in an electronic medium that was geared from the start towards publishing and not protecting data,” he argues.

“I think it’s time reconsider the trade-offs of third-party hosting and take control of our own data on hardened server appliances that we own ourselves.”

All About Microsoft Dynamics CRM …

CRM Lady reminds readers that in Microsoft Dynamics CRM one can build complete competitor profiles against any given opportunity.

“As you work the opportunity you can also ‘unassociate’ competitors as perhaps they become less of a threat,” she suggests.

Tim Heuerpraises David Yack’s bookCRM as a Rapid Development Platform.

Chapter 7 addresses “building different user experiences for CRM, one of which is Silverlight,” Heuer notes. “The companion source code for the book provides about a 20K library to access the CRM service features from Silverlight, taking the hard work away from you and providing you with the already-implemented work-arounds to access the services.”

If you are tasked with customizing — or even understanding — Microsoft CRM as a developer, this is a must-have resource, he concludes.

Matt Wittemann, director of the CRM practice at Customer Connect, also praises Yack’s CRM as a Rapid Development Platform, calling it “an indispensable tool for every developer who is building on top of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0.”

The Dynamic Duo at Channel 9have developed a series of videos, including the following:

… And

LinkedIn’s new iPhone application could easily compete with, maintains Nick O’Neill.

“I keep saying over and over that the social platform race is a race to my contact list but there still isn’t an effective solution! I currently subscribe to, but paying $55 a month seems like a lot of money to spend on something that isn’t extremely easy to use and offers 10,000 more features than I’ll ever use.”

Jeff Grosse points to’s announcement about its latest contract with Dell: “It’s a deal where, for a flat fee, Dell can use as much of Salesforce as it cares to through 2011. Unlimited users, unlimited objects, unlimited storage, etc. I’m guessing this is the first deal of its kind in the SaaS world. Imagine what you could do without limits. I’m kind of drooling right now.”

At Jesse Lorenz’ blog, the talk is about’s acquisition of InStranet.

“I’ve had a couple of customers that implemented the Customer Service & Support application, but couldn’t be convinced to decommission their old support system because they wanted to keep using their existing Knowledge Base.’s acquisition of InStranet is great news and should resolve this objection.”

In Brief

Andy Headworth wonders why so many CRM software vendors’ own CRM processes are so appalling.

Streamthru posits that airports, travel insurance providers, tourist boards and other organizations with high-volume, travel-related Web sites can differentiate themselves and build an extensive CRM database of customer behavior by offering visitors a mobile concierge service.

Disconnects in customer service still exist, notes Lewis Green with L&G Business Solutions:

“What we usually see is that the customer call center and service departments have one set of data, often using CRM, while sales and marketing gathers a completely different set using surveys and focus groups. None of the data is tied together; therefore, analysis is inaccurate and incomplete, leaving sales and marketing relying on mass communications that serves mostly to annoy customers, while inbound callers are left talking to clueless representatives who know little to nothing about messaging coming out of sales and marketing.”

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