This post was co-written with Jeremiah Owyang, Partner and Colleague at Altimeter Group

Mark Benioff and Jason from TwitterWonder what your high school mascot guy did when he grew up? He went to enterprise software.Salesforce Demo AreaMarc Benioff of SalesForce

Service Cloud 2 Answers IntegrationService Cloud 2 InStranet Knowledge IntegrationService Cloud 2 Google IntegrationService Cloud 2 Twitter Integration

Above: Pictures from Salesforce’s event

Salesforce.com launches a new set of social apps that make CRM connected to the social web. So what does it mean?

Salesforce.com’s Twitter integration and application launch helps brands monitor what’s being said. Yet despite the fanfare, the application lacks a pre-determined way to identify the profiles of Twitter profiles and primary keys within the CRM database. Secondly, the system doesn’t provide a default setting to prioritize the influence (such as more followers) vs a profile with few followers -limiting the ability for brands to prioritize their support offerings.

Salesforce.com’s “Answers” product is a threat to community platforms that offer support-heavy features. Vendors like Lithium (although a SF partner) Jive, Telligent, Awareness, and Mzinga are impacted. Brands that have a strong Salesforce.com implementation will first look to their CRM vendor for social support offerings -reducing the pipeline for community platform new comers. The newly minted “Knowledge” product, which harvests the IP from customer service reps, and customers themselves is also a direct threat to wiki creators such as SocialText, Atlasian. Those vendors should quickly bolster their marketing efforts to demonstrate how they are differentiated. Client server based contact center products such as Amdocs, Cisco, and Genesys, will face increased competition as business users choose to move to platforms that deliver provide greater social aspects tied to user generated content.

Despite Salesforce.com’s technical announcement, this doesn’t mean success for their customers. Technology is only 20% of any enterprise change, the other 80% is culture, process, roles, and strategy change -key requirements that Salesforce.com is not equipped to provide. As a result, don’t expect customers that don’t have the right program in place to take advantage of these technology offerings -instead expect vendors with a heavy professional service offering to empower a company to truly embrace customers in the social web.

Overall, Salesforce.com is above and beyond other CRM vendors in terms of connecting to the social web. Yet despite their ability to connect with new channels, they lack a full solution to empower brands to make the cultural changes within their organizations. Expect other CRM vendors such as Oracle’s Social CRM offerings and Microsoft Dynamics CRM to do a “me too” in coming months as others jump on the social CRM bandwagon.

For the CIO: Ray’s Take: The coming wave of social CRM initiatives and cloud based service solutions require CIO’s to rethink about their overall apps strategies to support hybrid deployment options. Rapid proliferation of SaaS solutions inside the organization requires strong CIO leadership in coordinating data, business process, and meta data integration strategies. Moreover, now will be the time to begin master data management activities that will support social CRM initiatives and resolve profile identification and entity resolution issues. Take control now or lose control forever.

For the CMO: Jeremiah’s Take: Marketing has spread beyond awareness and lead generation -support IS marketing. Yet to be successful, your internal processes must quickly meld PR and support to provide a seamless experience to the customer. Be proactive, not reactive: Use brand monitoring technologies to head off issues before they volcano into PR disasters.

Your POV

Ready to put your service strategy to the test with Salesforce.com’s Answers product or another social CRM tool? Where are you today in your efforts?  Post your comment here or reach me direct at r at altimetergroup dot com or r at softwareinsider dot org.

Copyright © 2009 R Wang. All rights reserved.