Salesforce's Service Cloud 3 Blurs Line Between CRM, BPM

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Plenty of smart people have tried to come up with a definition for adaptive case management. (The methodology is also sometimes called dynamic case management.) One thing that seems clear is that it will never fit neatly into any single enterprise software category.


While it's most often mentioned in the same breath with business process management and/or enterprise content management, industry observers agree that it will encompass other software categories as well. When I interviewed Forrester Research analysts Connie Moore and Craig Le Clair about case management last spring, Le Clair told me:

The providers in the market, largely BPM/ECM vendors, are starting to converge some of their technologies into more of a case framework. It's a combination of ECM, BPM, analytics and social that will form that next-generation case management platform.

Tom Shepherd, director of case management for software provider Global 360, Inc. left a comment predicting, in part, "we'll see solutions for CM from vendors that span many different technology stacks including ECM, BPM, CRM and more."


Alan Trefler, CEO of Pegasystems, a vendor Moore mentioned in our interview as producing solutions that deal with both structured and unstructured business processes, mentioned the confusion over categorization in a blog post a month or so ago. He wrote:

So is Pega a case management system? a business process management system? a customer service CRM solution? a business analytics tool that allows business people to use predictive models to improve business outcomes? a business rules management system? a composite application development for optimizing user experiences? The answer to all of these questions is-yes.

Note Trefler's mention of CRM. Le Clair told me customer service is one of the clearest use cases for case management. He said:

... We're moving toward differentiation based more on personality and experience and away from commoditization of core services. The top companies are going to focus on a case where you can personalize experiences and understand the multi-channel experience of where a customer is. ...

I also recently cited a blog post by Bertrand Duperrin in which he opined that all social CRM programs should include a customer case management system that routes customer communications to the appropriate person/people in the organization. And just yesterday, I wrote about how a combination of BPM and CRM should help improve customer experiences.


Given all this, it's hardly surprising that Salesforce.com, a CRM provider that's been known to dabble in BPM, just introduced Service Cloud 3, a product that promises to monitor status messages on Facebook, Twitter and other sites and automatically create CRM cases when necessary for immediate follow-up by customer service agents.


According to CMS Wire, the product "combines real-time social analytics with data tracking tools in order to prioritize responses across a variety of channels including phone, e-mail, chat or social networks." The update to Service Cloud also features support for video calling and mobile devices and allows agents to use Salesforce's Chatter to collaborate with each other. Among already-slated upgrades are a customizable workflow rules engine and a live agent chat service.