Salesforce.com's Radian6 Buy Signals Importance of Social, but What About Integration?

Ann All
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While social CRM is getting all of the attention these days, most companies still rely on traditional CRM systems to provide customer support and pursue sales opportunities. This isn't going to change in the near future. So it's a shame that integrating social media with existing CRM systems is so tough.


A CIO.com article quotes several technology executives who wish it was easier to connect information from social channels to core customer databases. The article mentions some tools that can help, including social sign-on software sold by vendors including Gigya and Janrain that allows users to log into one social network using credentials from another. While this can make it easier to collect data from multiple social channels, it still requires IT departments to do the heavy lifting of developing interfaces into CRM and business intelligence systems.


It notes that Radian6, which sells social-media-monitoring software and counts companies such as Dell and Comcast among its customers, added features that integrate with Salesforce.com. Doing so lets users view online conversations containing pre-determined keywords, then tag and route items to colleagues for follow-up or respond immediately to a customer. These actions are recorded and attached to customer records in Salesforce.com. And, the article adds, Oracle has demonstrated that Radian6 works with its CRM software as well.


Less than a week after this article was published, Salesforce.com announced its intention to buy Radian6 for $326 million. As a Reuters story points out, this is Salesforce's fourth acquisition in four months. Earlier it bought platform-as-a-service provider Heroku, Web-conferencing service Dimdim and ManyMoon, a provider of Web-based productivity applications. The Radian6 purchase signals vendors like Salesforce recognize the growing importance of social channels.


It doesn't, however, solve the broader social CRM integration problem. As Subraya Mallya wrote on PrudentCloud following Salesforce's announcement that it would buy Heroku, Salesforce offerings are largely based on proprietary technology. This includes its Force.com development platform.


As IT Business Edge colleague Loraine Lawson wrote in December, open standards would offer the best solution. She cited two emerging possibilities, ActivityStreams and OStatus. ActivityStreams addresses data feeds between social platforms by standardizing the format used to exchange information, while OStatus is an open specification for sharing status updates between different social networks.


The CIO.com article notes that Google launched its OpenSocial standard in 2007 as a common API for social software, although it hasn't been widely adopted. Among the holdouts is Facebook, which prefers to use its own API.

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