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The evergreen vistas of Social CRM

Why I am still not convinced…

The last few months have seen a flurry of actions on the Social CRM front. We have seen large splashes made by largely good looking apps. Here’s what I think the best (e. g. Nimble ) of them bring to the table:

1. A clean, really clean user interface- and a UI and navigation to match. Now that’s something to strive for!
2. Bar none- they are all cloud/ SAAS offerings and what more- they all offer integration with other apps. While the cynic will say, they have no option but to offer integration with other apps seeing that this is the only way they can offer capabilities they themselves do not have, we tend to believe otherwise. We think there is a place for specialists as well as generalists and if someone comes in solves just a small problem, really well- he/ she will still have something of value to offer.

And, the fact that they are all on the cloud and gaining rapid traction, tells you two things:
– cloud is the way to go; for consumers as well as vendors. It is past discussion.
– cloud is not just about faster and easier deployment of code; it is about learning from customer feedback and community and improving.

So, why did I start on this quibbling note?

The basic question still is- how are you measurably monetizing your social interactions? Can you?
1. Can you monetize?
2. Can you measure? With any degree of granularity?
Of course, you are welcome to turn around and say, you don’t care about measuring or even monetizing.

And, the other question- more subtle, but important nevertheless, is:

Having the tools to engage your contact base in conversations on one single platform is great. Here’s the problem though:
1. Who will ensure consistency of communication and messaging? Who will train the sales guys on staying “on message”?
2. Who will create this content that we now have the channel to share- across different channels? Make no mistake- the same message will need to be re-worded – for being sent on Facebook vs sent on email vs sent on Twitter. And, who will be trained and savvy enough to manage the conversations and more, lead the conversation to sales?
3. One broadcast post on  FB and Twitter –> 10 conversations and what if more than one person from your company is in the loop? Who drives consistency?

I remain a skeptic.

CRM Contracts, Negotiations, and the Hidden “Gotchas” | CRM Magazine Blog

CRM Contracts, Negotiations, and the Hidden “Gotchas” | CRM Magazine Blog.

I am quite puzzled to read this recent post in the CRM Magazine blog. The post itself is largely based on what Gartner Analyst Jane Disbrow said in the Gartner CRM summit in Arizona.

To quote:  “Offers, promotions, and discounts are appealing, but you might end up with something you don’t really need.

Often people just think ‘We have to buy new software,’ but they don’t think of the additional aspects,” Disbrow said. There are many (hard and soft) hidden costs involved with implementing new projects that must be taken into account:

  • Training costs,

  • Customization of code,

  • Implementation time and manpower,

  • Database management, and

  • Data conversion.

Not only are those important to look out for, but Disbrow said that customers need to be aware of the silent software-as-a-service “Gotchas.” Many people think that SaaS lets you scale up and down with users whenever you’d like, she said. However, that’s truly not always the case. On-demand applications can bring along a tailwind of additional expenses including:

  • Storage fees,

  • Premium main fees,

  • Data protection and rights to data,

  • Set-up fees and customization fees,

  • Sand-boxing fees,

  • Fees for customers and business partners,

  • Document functionality, and

  • The ability to reduce or re-level volumes midterm.”

How different is this scenario from any other purchase?
Upfront cost is not the same as lifetime costs; most people get it; corporate purchasers certainly do. And, a product sold as a service will have to embrace some of the same uncertainties of a service sale; just as a service is more difficult to specify than a product, so it is more complicated to price.
Would it be fair to say though that a CRM product sold as a SAAS would typically be, in spite of the uncertainties identified above, cheaper, friendlier and easier to set up and customize than a similar enterprise class software product?
Nothing is as good as it is marketed to be; but nothing is as bad as it is often dismissed as ;-)

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