Social Silos in the Enterprise

Social CRM is on the surface all about being open. It’s about creating intimacy with the consumer, and being open to customer feedback 24/7, on multiple channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, and others.

Since the acquisition of Radian6 by Salesforce, and the subsequent copycat acquisitions by enterprise vendors such as Oracle, Adobe, Microsoft and others, we’ve see the formation of vendor-specific social solutions. Though largely aimed at creating an outbound (i.e, campaigns/advertising/sales)  “marketing cloud” many of these solutions also contain an inbound (customer service/contact center) capability. Without too much pushback, one can say that with over $3B of social marketing acquisitions since 2011 there are more than enough solutions available to help enterprises push messages out over social channels.

What’s not discussed is the degree of fragmentation that has been created, and even accelerated by the wave of social M&A.  These tightly-coupled social layers in different vendors apps have created a problem we refer to at Buzzient as “Social Silos”. Here’s a prototypical example:

– A Global Company  (we’ll call them “GloCo” for purposes of illustration) with multiple divisions and lines of business decides to “get social”. The impetus for doing so comes from the CMO’s office, and is framed in the language and structure of using social for outbound campaigns to attract new customers.

– A Social Marketing team is created, who build a set of Facebook and Twitter promotions. This team is staffed by Millennials who the CMO figures “get” social better than other people in the company. Coincidentally, their short tenure at GloCo has not enabled this team to develop strong relationships across the company with other departments.

– The Social Marketing team chooses from amongst the latest new social marketing suites, based on a set of criteria which include (1) cloud-based, (2) sexy UI and (3) ability to schedule publication of tweets/postings so that it looks like there is always someone at GloCo available to talk to customers on social channels.

– The new social campaigns launch to much fanfare, and Social Marketing starts reporting back daily/hourly the increases in retweets, post volume, likes, klout score, and other social metrics.

– The Customer Service/Contact Center operation, which has been largely left out of the CMO’s plans, starts to see odd activity. Phone calls drop off.  At first Customer Service is pleasantly surprised, and reports their own positive metrics such as reduction of trouble tickets in the queue, upward to the COO.

– In reality, what’s happening is that consumers have come to believe that GloCo has a unified social application front. Consumers who used to call customer service to complain are now going to social channels instead. Marketing is reporting on increases in volume, but not necessarily understanding why. Customer Service is blind to what’s going on in social, as their department was never included in the campaign planning. This is the first type of  Social Silo, and is based on business function.

– A second Social Silo is also building that is architectural in nature. Assumed in the selection of a cloud-based social marketing product by the CMO’s team is that ALL of the critical applications in GloCo are already in the cloud. In reality, GloCo, like any complex enterprise, will have a mix of cloud and on-premises applications from multiple vendors.  Marketing might be in the cloud, but Customer Service, Supply Chain, Contact Center, etc. applications might very likely be on-premises, for legacy, security and regulatory reasons.

As far as the consumer is concerned, they expect that their tweet might be answered by Customer Service, routed to Loyalty Marketing so that GloCo understands the Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) for that consumer, and potentially rectified by a new product being shipped through the manufacturing team. None of this is possible unless the social infrastructure of GloCo can route that tweet across different applications (cloud and otherwise) from different, maybe even competing vendors (Oracle vs. Salesforce). This is the second Social Silo, that created by the architectural boundaries between cloud/on-premises apps, and between different vendor stacks.

So, though social marketing might be considered a done deal for many organizations, the Social Silos created by those same activities may be more far-reaching and important to the complex enterprise. In planning a social business strategy, we at Buzzient recommend looking beyond the functional/architectural boundaries to build a more integrated social platform.