• August 11, 2009
  • By Mike Cassettari, vice president of marketing and business development, Inmagic

CRM and CMS 2.0 Collide, Part 2


Customer data used to be locked inside the sales or customer service content management system (CMS), but with the introduction of social collaboration, data is now part of a rich ecosystem collectively maintained and enhanced by the entire organization.

To illustrate how a social knowledge network works in a CRM environment, consider how information is used by customer-facing professionals: Many employees typically draw upon content developed by their predecessors or that which is stored in the CMS as a resource for resolving new problems. For example, when a new sales associate wants to use a proposal he finds in the CRM system as a guide for crafting a proposal for a new client, he has the added task of ensuring that the document is accurate.

Unfortunately, if the proposal is factually outdated, offering, for instance, services that the organization no longer provides, the new associate may be unaware of these changes unless he consults with someone who worked on the past account, an individual who may no longer be at the company.

In this situation, any prior knowledge about the proposal, prospect, sales strategy, products, and results is essentially lost, and yet these details are critical to the effective performance of this new associate. Not only are time and resources wasted, a potential client may receive outdated or incorrect materials which will negatively affect the sale, or worse, the relationship.

A properly administered CMS would ensure that the proposal being used is up-to-date and accurate. With the introduction of a social knowledge network, the proposal becomes a living, evolving document. A socially powered CMS can enhance the collaborative efforts of the entire organization in the following ways:

  • Documents can be scored based on their viability (e.g., five stars for a highly relevant document, and one star to indicate that the document should be used with caution).
  • Content can be tagged to enhance searchability.
  • Comments on the proposal can serve as an audit trail to track every change that is made.
  • Links to supplemental materials (e.g., documents, videos, PowerPoint presentations, images) can be embedded into the content.
  • Real-time editing enables contributors to make clarifications and corrections.
  • Security and permission controls restrict editing and viewing rights.

Transparency within the CMS gives the new sales associate context around the information he seeks, allowing him to better understand when, how, and why the proposal was used and what the results were.

After he's finished with the content at hand, the new associate, too, can rate how helpful the proposal was. By contributing his own feedback about the document -- customer responses, changes that were made, end results -- he perpetuates the cycle whereby shared knowledge builds upon shared knowledge. Information about the proposal is preserved, iterated, and improved as others use, critique, and modify it.

Traditional CRM systems that provide significant operational benefits to the organization will continue to aggregate customer data and facilitate customer transactions. By pairing CRM with a social knowledge network, Web 2.0 technologies can transform how businesses understand and service their clients and prospects.

Analysts and critics will continue to crow about the future of CRM and attempt to predict when the next generation of CRM platforms will arrive. By pairing today's CRM platforms with a readily available enterprise social knowledge network, the industry's next-generation platforms can be here today, and with it, all the benefits promised for CRM tomorrow.

About the Author

Mike Cassettari is vice president of marketing and business development at Inmagic. At this position, he is responsible for the company's marketing and business partnership strategy, corporate communications, demand creation, and customer programs. Prior to joining Inmagic, he was the vice president of marketing at Mathsoft Engineering and Education, Inc., a provider of engineering calculation management software, until its acquisition by Parametric Technology Corporation (PTC) in 2006.

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