If The Marketing Id had any doubts that social media was still more pervasive as a marketing tool in the B2C world as opposed to the B2B world, those doubts have begun to seriously erode this year. With the advent of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the like in the past few years, it’s the customers and employees of the enterprise, both B2C and B2B that have been quick to adopt social networking. So it came as no surprise at the recent Dreamforce 2011 conference in San Francisco, when Marc Benioff (Chairman & CEO of Salesforce.com) pondered during his opening keynote address, “Customers and employees are social. Are enterprises social?” In fact, he went on suggest that they were not social and wondered if there was a way to bridge this social divide between the enterprise and its employees and customers.
While consulting for a digital content management company back in 2007, I had come up with this wonderful tagline, “Bridging the media divide” to encapsulate the essence of its existing managed services and forthcoming SaaS offerings. So when Mr. Benioff spoke of a three-step program that Salesforce.com had recently developed to “bridge this social media divide,” I felt a sense of déjà vu. It also got me to appreciate a key differentiator–while we were ahead of the curve in trying to migrate digital content management services to the cloud in 2007–social media offerings were pretty much born in the cloud! Thus, all that bridging Benioff’s social media divide required was the establishing of a value proposition that would be compelling to the enterprise.
And, Mr. Benioff did so quite convincingly in his Dreamforce 2011 keynote. He asserted that for an enterprise, delighting customers is knowing who they are and what they like–Facebook tells us what they like, Twitter tells us what they are saying and LinkedIn tells us who they are connected to? So in order to become a “social enterprise,” a B2B needs to follow three steps–begin creating customer social profiles in its database, establish an employee social network and finally integrate these into customer and product social networks with the appropriate security and access provisions as required.
From The Marketing Id’s standpoint, Salesforce.com has done pioneering work in the employee social network domain with its 2010 launch of Chatter–a collaboration application for the enterprise to connect and share information securely with employees in real-time. At the Dreamforce 2011 conference Mr. Benioff announced that Chatter’s functionality had been extended to include Chatter Now–a presence detection capability to let employees know who was “live” on Salesforce.com and thus allow them to chat and collaborate in real time. In addition, the Chatter Connect API empowers employees of the enterprise to bring 3rd party streams into Chatter and enhance workflow efficiencies and employee productivity. Chatter Groups enables employees to include customers and partners in specific groups to collaborate on proposals, presentations and the like. And, a telecommuter/road warrior imperative, Chatter Mobile extends these functions to popular mobile devices such as iPad, iPhone, BlackBerry, and Android.
As a B2B, if you thought Salesforce.com already rated “good to great” on the Jim Collins scale, their introduction of Data.com with its access to Dun & Bradstreet and Jigsaw data inside Salesforce makes them even better. More importantly, your B2B sales force can now access all their existing data and applications on the road on their mobile devices with the availability of touch.salesforce.com. Finally, to aid the creation of the afore-mentioned customer and product social networks, Salesforce.com has introduced a multi-language, open, cloud platform for the enterprise that will enable a B2B to engage in social marketing activities such as crowd-sourcing for product feedback, social monitoring of customer conversations, etc.
The above is only a brief summary of the leading edge developments taking place on the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) side of what The Marketing Id has been referring to as a CRM-integrated Marketing Automation Platform (MAP). The Marketing Id had also recently blogged about how Siemens Enterprise Communications (Social Media-Integrated Enterprise Products Lead the Way for Social Media-Integrated B2B Marketing) had made rapid strides in the B2B communications domain by focusing on five megatrends that included cloud-based communications, seamless mobility, social collaboration, consistent consumer-like experience across devices, and ubiquitous reliability and security. Listening to Mr. Benioff it seemed pretty obvious to The Marketing Id that Siemens, who is a Salesforce.com customer, is well-aligned with the vision of a social enterprise. Based on the turnout at Dreamforce 2011 conference and the dominance of Salesforce.com in the B2B domain, The Marketing Id believes that the concept of a social enterprise will catch on quite rapidly in the broader B2B world.
From a marketing standpoint, the social enterprise could become the holy grail for B2B marketers when it comes to sales enablement, demand generation and a truly integrated sales and marketing funnel with one vision of the truth. With a CRM-integrated MAP, marketing to the social enterprise becomes a collaborative, real-time exercise that ought to make it a delightful experience to customers, employees, partners, et al. So welcome to the social enterprise, folks!