Community and collaboration tools are coming to CRM.
During the past six months, Salesforce.com and Oracle have delivered new features and products that allow organizations to identify the hottest ideas faster, improve team productivity and enhance large organizations' ability to deliver more personal customer service.
The tools shed light on the likely direction this industry will follow in the next year.
Indeed, the Internet and the Web 2.0 phenomenon have enabled a level of customer engagement that previously wasn't possible or expected. A plethora of alternative information sources have changed the vendor-customer relationship from being highly vendor-centric to one in which customers and vendors each may have relationships with one another, with partners and distributors, and with other customers.
Listening to the Customer
Web 2.0 technologies enable CRM users to capitalize on these changes in profound ways. Salesforce Ideas, for example, allows users to suggest and then vote on new ideas, enabling organizations to identify the best ideas contributed by their employees, customers and partners. It's a personal version of Digg, adapted to the needs of the enterprise.
Salesforce's own implementation of Ideas, Salesforce Idea??ÃExchange (ideas.salesforce.com), has recorded thousands of ideas-some 7,600 as of June 11. According to the site, many of those ideas will be implemented in Salesforce.com this summer, including enabling the insertion of related object data into a formula field, allowing in-line editing for views and filtering on lookup.
Dell has also deployed the Salesforce Ideas technology-as Dell IdeaStorm (dellideastorm.com)-enabling customers to suggest and vote on new concepts and feature changes in Dell products.
CEO Michael Dell has charged his direct reports with monitoring the forums and taking responsibility for implementing the best ideas. Almost 10,000 ideas have been introduced since the service went live last year, generating more than 65,000 comments.
Recently implemented ideas offered on the service have been as mundane as adding a new tag to the IdeaStorm site and as high-level as adding higher-resolution screens to the Dell XPS 1530 laptop and offering RAID 5 on Dell XPS desktop PCs.