In this month’s Release 2.0, we consider the next generation of customer relationship management (CRM) and the search for an all-in-one-place inbox and address book.
We need some sort of universal inbox and address book because it’s not just email that we’re neck-deep in nowadays. Once you’ve figured out a way to organize one means of input, there’s another one. Are you up-to-date on all the RSS feeds? Your Facebook friends? Their Twitter tweets? In recent months, we have started to see high-profile attempts to create universal inboxes from two different directions: online social networks and CRM systems.
As the need to store and organize more information grows more acute, both online social networks and CRM systems have grown dramatically in membership and in the amount of information stored and shared. There are millions of people who have accounts on both social networks and CRM systems, but of course our needs and expectations on these systems differ. Your contact record in someone’s Siebel system identifies you as a current or potential customer; your contact record on MySpace may identify you as a folk singer or stand-up comedian. There are good reasons for keeping this information separate, but it is difficult to maintain multiple personalities online, just as it is in real life.
Yet the lines between the persona you present to your social network and someone’s CRM record of you get blurred regularly. You might date someone you work with; you might engage in some business with an old college buddy. Separately, your social networks and CRM systems are useful. But they might have something to teach one another. In the new issue of Release 2.0, we explore what happens when the various forms of online communications smash together, in search of that universal inbox and address book. Email inboxes are taking on aspects of social networks and CRM systems. CRM systems are getting more social. Social networks are being used to track business contacts and replace other forms of online communication like email and chat. You can, for example, update your Facebook status via Twitter. And the goal for these projects seems to be the same: everything, organized, in one trusted place. The new issue of the newsletter reports on where we are — and where we’re going.
And while we’re considering how online social networks are changing things, we have completed the third and final edition of our Facebook Application Platform report. In the months since we published the initial version of the report, we’ve seen:
* the winner-take-all nature of Facebook applications grow more prominent,
* a flattening or even declining usage among some top applications,
* a rise in the desire for truly useful Facebook applications — not just frivolous ones,
* and much more.
We have updated our data on the most successful Facebook applications, the most-used ones, the most successful vendors, and much more. The platform is very much alive. but it is experiencing growing pains. (Purchasers of previous versions of the report get this one for free.)