Listen and Ye Shall Hear: The Importance of Salesforce’s Acquisition of Radian6

March 31, 2011 Appirio

Eryc Branham

It’s no secret that enterprise companies have viewed the Social Revolution with a somewhat cautious eye, with its promise to unleash the power of employees to tackle a company’s most pressing needs but perhaps at the expense of over-sharing in the workplace.

However, innovative companies have been experimenting for several years, looking not just at internal employee collaboration (from SharePoint to Yammer to Chatter) or external customer communities (from Lithium to Jive) but how a company can harness the multitudes of users on the web who interact with a company’s brand on a daily basis, for better or worse.

The real challenge has been collecting, analyzing, and making that social data actionable for a company, all at internet-speed and in a way that isn’t all consuming. That has been the focus of Radian6, makers of a Social Media Monitoring tool that salesforce.com announced this week that they are acquiring.

There’s been plenty of coverage about the acquisition itself, but the reason I’m so excited by this move is to see salesforce.com’s validation of the value of Social CRM – the marriage of CRM (customer relationship management) with social networks to create completely new levels of engagement between a company and its customers.

CRM has traditionally been an internal tool for tracking and managing those customer relationships, used by a company’s marketing, sales, and support agents. It’s been self-centered around your company. But Social CRM is explicitly externally-facing – it’s about going to where your customers are, listening to what they really have to say about your company, responding through CRM channels, and tracking the effectiveness through both CRM and social analytics.

Going where your customers are means having a highly-elastic, scalable approach that can scale-up as the volume of customer engagement and social insights increase. In addition, it’s a dynamic world with Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook changing rapidly, and new sources like Quora, Focus, and topical blogs emerging as new networks. The solutions you use have to match this rate of innovation. Social CRM depends on a rate of innovation that is exclusive to the cloud, so it’s no great shock that one of the pioneers of the cloud, salesforce.com, has recognized this and chosen to invest in Radian6 to extend their core CRM experience into Social CRM.

Along with salesforce.com’s focus on their Chatter product, this bodes well for all enterprise companies looking to graduate from the experimentation phase of Social CRM and into broader adoption across their enterprise.

At Appirio, we have focused on using the cloud’s capabilities to empower business innovation, and we have spent much of the last four years “connecting the clouds” across the leading CRM and social technologies in this space. We’re even more excited to see what we can do now that social will be a core part of all of Salesforce CRM and beyond.

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