According to Paul Greenberg, an expert in customer relationship management (CRM) and social CRM (SCRM), the term “social customer” was coined by Chris Carfi “some six or seven years ago.”
But before being social customers, we are social media users—we use Facebook, Twitter, create blogs and comments on Web sites, and sometimes we can even integrate some of these tools and make them work together. Unfortunately, this is not an easy thing to do and if you use three or more social media tools, you will have a hard time integrating all of them (or most of them). Why? When a social media company launches a new product, they want to keep their followers, users, etc. and they would rather not share them with others (for instance, Twitter has an application that lets you find followers on Facebook, which was recently blocked by Facebook).
OmniSocial: Dream or Reality?
In a recent briefing with Mzinga, I had the chance to learn more about their flagship product called OmniSocial. According to Mzinga, OmniSocial was created to make social interactions pervasive and allow all people involved in a business (e.g., employees, customers, suppliers, etc.) to communicate, collaborate, and share information and knowledge. This all sounds very interesting, but how close does Mzinga get to a true omni-social (a true universal social platform) solution?
In order to answer this question, let’s take a look at the main characteristics of OmniSocial:
• The product brings the old way of doing business (where customers would have limited and almost exclusive interaction with companies) together with the new era of social interactions (where we all can create and share information about everything).
• The platform is cloud-based or SaaS (software as a service), offers apps and widgets that can be used to create polls, surveys, wikis, blogs, to-do lists, but also for media content sharing (e.g., pictures, video, and audio ) and event management (Web and audio conferencing), etc.
• The analytics functionality provides information about your online community: who visits it, what are people talking about, who are its most influential members, what are the most popular topics, etc.
• The functionality for learning and assessing knowledge can be used for course management, certification and compliance, assessments, e-learning and even software simulation. Furthermore, human resources (HR) professionals can define and track objectives and career paths for employees.
OmniSocial can be used in a private and a public cloud, is available on mobile phones (OmniMobile), and can be easily integrated with Facebook and SharePoint. Also, with the introduction of zones (sub-communities within sites) users can share similar interests, which can be made private or public. There is also a self-service control panel for administrative purposes that requires little or no technical background.
Mzinga still needs to make a few changes in order for its product to be closer to being omnisocial:
• integration with other social media tools (LinkedIn, Twitter, FourSquare, SlideShare, Scribd, etc.)
• analytics outside the community (right now, OmniSocial only analyses the data created and gathered inside the community),
• better data sharing with business software, especially CRM, but also enterprise resource planning (ERP), business process management (BPM), etc.
• free edition with limited functionality that benefit small businesses willing to adapt to their customers’ needs
• ability for users to create their own widgets and applications, which can be exchanged through an online market or store
All these are in development or can be found in Mzinga’s product road map.
The best is yet to come…
I must confess that I was (in this previous post)—and still am—a bit pessimistic about social CRM because I was expecting traditional CRM vendors to be very innovative in this new field. But after having a few briefings with vendors like Mzinga, I realized that the key to the SCRM (re)evolution might be in someone else’s hands.
Follow my posts to see why vendors like Mzinga are the real SCRM players and why they are the ones who really make it happen. In the meantime, let me know what you think about OmniSocial and what you expect from a social platform.