By way of introduction...

My name's Rob Knight and I join the Social CRM product management team from the Application Expert Services (formerly Siebel Expert Services) team here at Oracle. For the best part of a decade, I have been involved with many different aspects of the Siebel CRM application, including integration on both a transactional and a bulk level. So I have seen deployments using batch and messaging solutions including middleware such as IBM WebSphere MQ.

Being a Siebel Technical Architect has meant working on wide ranging issues, including the performance challenges of high volume and high population environments. In these situations, rich features or complex processes sometimes have to give way to efficiency and simplicity - not always an easy message to get across.

So, I am onto my new role with the Social CRM applications. I am looking at how the new Social CRM applications can be integrated with a myriad of different data and functional sources spanning internal business information sources and external ones. Internal sources of information would be your existing sales and provisioning systems to capture data, such as closed opportunities and shipped orders, either on-premise or not.

These new ways of visualizing and working with sales information will need mechanisms to keep them fresh. Poor or inaccurate data will lead to all sorts of potential problems and not just for the users of these applications, but their customers and prospects as well. I certainly form a low opinion of someone who tries to sell me something I already have or they have already told me I do not qualify for.

Effective data integration is required to prevent these potential issues as well as ensuring the collection of this information is completed timely. My goal is to address just that using a combination of Oracle technology and the support of our partners, both new and old.

Comments:

Hi Mr. Knight, Good to know from you and see that Oracle is at least keeping the best ex-Siebel folks on their side. Just to clarify my understanding on your words about SocialCRM looks like what it does is taking the good'ol CRM and placing another layer on top of it, an intelligent one, that takes the hard work of running all the "logic" (the kind of logic that says that if a customer didn't like a product on colour A he/she might not like it neither on colour B... but maybe colour X works?) from end-users into the CRM engine. If that's correct, our old friends Workflows will have a good time! Anyway, given that would be the case, it's back to one of the same problems I found out whilst working for Siebel: it's not just the CRM system that's put in place that has to make a great job, it's very much on the shoulders of the people who finally has to make it work (underscore)properlly(end underscore) which will make a difference if a CRM project goes fine or not. I would bet that's the same also on the new SocialCRM idea. Just my 2€ cents ;) Cheerio!

Posted by Rafa Flores on August 27, 2008 at 03:40 PM PDT #

Hello Rafa So, on the one hand, the Sales Prospector application conducts analysis on buying patterns and matches prospective customers for products based on their profiles. It is important that an application like this is kept up to date with the buying history and company profiles. In a Siebel sense, then workflow is one way of ensuring that data is transmitted, although there are further options to detect data change events. These applications are distinct from the Siebel CRM application and can exchange data with on premise and hosted enterprise applications as well as 3rd party providers. So it is not an issue isolated to the CRM application, but also the ordering and provisioning systems, the source of prospects, individuals' address books and so on... The important aspect is to ensure these data sources are integrated sufficiently to feed the Social applications the data to make them useful.

Posted by Rob Knight on August 28, 2008 at 02:00 AM PDT #

Hello Rob, So is Social CRM a new word for something that's already in use? We already have several data mining technologies in use in the market. Of late, the vendors have made it increasingly easier to integrate various sources of information and then simply mine this information for sales prospects. How is a Social CRM app different? Are there any apps out there that can give us a general idea of what to expect?

Posted by Mayuresh K on September 24, 2008 at 10:34 PM PDT #

Hi Mayuresh Social CRM is different; yes it has aspects of history, which may make you think it is just new spin, but it also brings the social networking advantages to the business user. Sales Prospector does indeed use Oracle Data Mining (see other posts on the Social CRM blog), but it adds to this a degree social comparison, such as recommending likely reference accounts using the "closeness" of the user to their colleagues. Take a look at John Kim's earlier post http://blogs.oracle.com/socialcrm/2008/07/why_sales_reps_are_social.html These together with data mining, enable sales people to identify and work leads into closed deals using materials and approaches that others in their social network have already tried and tested. The bugbear of CRM applications that has plagued take-up has been the need to enter management data that has little positive impact on the selling process. These Social CRM applications address that issue (initially) for sales people - it gathers and mines the data to suggest potential deals that have a better likelihood of success (Sales Prospector) and provides support and guidance to close those deals through rated and reviewed shared collateral (yet to be released Sales Campaigns and Sales Library). Take a look at our applications at http://sales.oracle.com to see how they support sales people in actually doing their job, selling, rather than reporting on how they are doing their job. I think you'll see why these are not old toys with new boxes!

Posted by Rob Knight on September 30, 2008 at 01:27 AM PDT #

Was you a group member of the Black Knights? They were rocking in the 60's.....

Posted by Stefano Galaxio on October 07, 2008 at 07:51 PM PDT #

This makes me think of what I’ve been saying in many conversations with other social media folks: social media will achieve its true value when it’s fluid across the internal/external divide. What I mean is, social media will become a tool (set of tools) that we will use in some ways outside the enterprise, in some ways inside the enterprise, and in some ways across that divide.

Posted by Federico Babbo on October 07, 2008 at 07:55 PM PDT #

Oh please! Those Black Knights guys were in their 20's before I was born!

Posted by Rob Knight on October 08, 2008 at 07:20 PM PDT #

Certainly being able to utilise social media between the public and enterprise domains will add significant value to it. Whether that is its' true value is something we could debate. Being able to seamlessly transport the data between the zones is one thing, being able to identify the data that is actually useful is an entirely different ball-game. For example, would I want to integrate "Tweets" into my enterprise applications? On the face of it, no way; the data volumes are horrendous. But, as a sales rep, would I want to know that a prospect of mine has made an unexpected trip to my home town? Very probably, provided of course that my prospect doesn't start to think of me as some sort of stalker! So there is going to be a necessary level of caution in bringing the two together, but ultimately yes, very worthwhile.

Posted by Rob Knight on October 08, 2008 at 07:34 PM PDT #

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