I was fortunate enough to attend the #dellb2b Huddle at Google’s offices in London last week, hosted by Neville Hobson (WCG) and Kerry Bridge (Dell) where Brian Solis gave an impassioned keynote about B2B social media. As I’m currently winding up for Social CRM 2011 in London – see below for details – I took the opportunity to ask Brian his thoughts on Social CRM. Beyond the hype, are businesses really integrating social with CRM – and if not yet, when?
His answer was unequivocal: that social CRM doesn’t exist on it’s own, it’s merely part of the “socialisation of business” which is happening on all fronts; and that businesses cannot begin to properly integrate external communications until they have worked out how to share information effectively internally.
When he’s not flying from event to event, helping big businesses to understand this is what Brian does for a living. When I’m not hosting events, it’s also what I do for a living and, increasingly, I’m being asked to advise my clients about internal communications systems and processes (mainly processes) – usually as a prelude to social media integration.
Also, tellingly – the most resonant comment at Social PR 2011 in London in Feb came from Katy Howell of immediate future, who said: “Good PR starts with good internal communications”. You could just as easily swap “PR” in that sentence for “marketing”, “customer services”, “management”, “product management” or any number of key business activities.
As Brian says, what we’re witnessing is the socialisation of business, not social CRM, social PR or any other social X’s we care to invent.
In real terms, however, in the absence of a truly enlightened CEO (and if yours isn’t I’m hosting an event called Social Media for CEO’s in London in Sept 11) this movement will only truly take hold within a business when each department realises the need to socialise their systems and internal processes – i.e. move towards more open, collaborative communications.
As such, our Social CRM conferences in London and New York this year aim to help customer services and customer engagement managers to start this process. We have a selection of the smartest sCRM thinkers in the world speaking at these, so join us if you can.