Home > CRM, Customer Experience, Social CRM, technology > Gartner Social CRM MQ Misses Big

Gartner Social CRM MQ Misses Big

I need to begin with the following: I have the highest respect for the authors and contributors to the recently released Gartner Magic Quadrant for Social CRM. I am disagreeing with the ideas and concepts, not people. I am more troubled that what was published is so off the mark, as it leads to further confusion in an already confused space. This is not to say that the companies included in various locations are right or wrong either, it is simply the apples to oranges comparison of ‘things’.

Desperate to Call it a Strategy, yet Describe it as an Application

At the outset, the authors describe Social CRM as a” business strategy that generates opportunities”.  While I agree with the first part, it is the second part that is the struggle as it takes an inside-out company centric view. The single most important part of Social CRM is that it needs to start with an outside-in view (organizational benefits can still be realized). The focus should be on the needs of the customer, on their jobs-to-be-done, the outcome they want and their experience – it is about the customer, not the company – this is what the social part is about. While many parts of traditional CRM might remain about the company, Social extends it in the right way.

“Social CRM is based on the simple premise that you are able to interact with your customers based on their needs, not your rules. It is an extension of CRM, not a replacement, and among the important benefits is that it adds value back to the users and customers.” (Mitch Lieberman June 2010)

Social CRM is, and always has been about extending CRM, not replacing it. It is about the integrations, the connections; it is about the space between the applications, the enterprise and the customer. It is not itself another enterprise application – certainly not another silo.  It is not whether a new class of application can capture content. It is whether the current processes can become more practical and interesting for customers to share content, the capture part is easy and there are lots of applications which already do it. I apologize in advance, but I have never met a software application that can “Build Trust” (Sorry Siri).

“Social CRM, from the technology perspective, is about integration of new channels, Social Media is a channel. Properly, Social Media is dozens of channels, where you need to choose the ones right for your business. The hard part, the real work, is choosing which channels to integrate and then designing the processes around these channels – the people part.” (Previous Post)

In Social, People are the Stars, Applications take a Supporting Role

It is because of the focus on technology and applications that Gartner loses its way here. In many of their other Magic Quadrants, the maturity of the application and/or the technology is critical to the success of the initiative. In Social, people trump technology every time. I struggle to see how any application can “improve self-esteem”. When used properly, I suppose I can stretch a little to understand the thought, but it is much more about the people. Giving access to more information and better information is critical of course, but why is that “social”. Customers do not want to feel more involved in their decisions, they want to be more involved in their decisions.

“Social CRM is a strategy first, but it will not be successful if it is not supported by people, processes and technology with defined goals and objectives. The way customers are interacting with companies and a companies’ brands is changing and this poses a challenge; a challenge of volume of new data, scale and speed.”(previous post)

In the digital age, information flows easily in directions you cannot predict and pathways you cannot control. Your customers have questions, they need answers and they want to be heard; they are a little short on patience as well.  At the click of the mouse, people expect answers, solutions and resolutions. Social CRM is about humanizing your organization, it is an enabler of positive customer experience and meeting expectations. The benefits to you are tangible, in the form of loyalty and advocacy.

Social CRM does NOT need a quadrant. What companies need is help understanding how to humanize their CRM practices.

  1. October 2, 2012 at 8:28 am

    Want the recipe to create the perfect Magic Quadrant ?


    If only vendors and clients stood up and stood together to demand a redefinition of traditional analysis….it’s hard to imagine large corporations caught by the short and curlies and not able to challenge or even walk away from paying Gartner to appear on these reports.

    • Mitch Lieberman
      October 3, 2012 at 8:35 am


      Thanks for the comment and the link. Having lived on all sides of this equation, I hear what your are saying, agree, but can also see the struggle. There are just so many people that both do not have the time and are willing to settle for ‘close-enough’. As noted during the brief twitter conversation, specific to Social, a refactoring of the criteria would seem to be in order. There is no way someone evaluating Lithium, for example, should be evaluating Artesian or Salesforce – they are just very different.

      I appreciate the comments,


  2. Claude Super
    October 3, 2012 at 7:37 am

    Reblogged this on Le Blog de Claude Super | Let's make your business more social! and commented:
    Très bon billet qui replace le “social CRM” dans sa singularité, c’est à dire une “discipline” au coeur des interactions humaines et de leurs moteurs, pas dans les processus des organisations !

    • Mitch Lieberman
      October 3, 2012 at 1:37 pm

      Merci beaucoup pour le commentaire – je l’apprécie. (mes excuses pour l’utilisation de Google Translate pour traduire, mon français n’est pas ce qu’il devrait être)

  3. October 7, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    I am conscious that many readers will be unable to read or access a full copy of the report.

    Artesian (a Niche Vendor in the 2012 Social CRM MQ) have provided a complementary copy and it is available here:



    • Mitch Lieberman
      October 8, 2012 at 12:17 pm

      Thanks, link appreciated. Mitch

  4. grahamrhill
    October 9, 2012 at 6:57 am

    Hi Mitch

    Another interesting, to-the-point, pull-no-punches blog post.

    I find myself agreeing and disagreeing with you in equal measure. Before moving on to that, we should put Gartner’s Magic Quadrant (and Forrester’s Wave) in its rightful place. The Magic Quadrant’s two axes: ability to execute and completeness of vision is about each vendor’s ability to execute its go to market strategy for its software and the completeness of the vision of its go to market strategy for its software. It is not about its ability to execute game changing Social CRM for customers, nor is it about its completeness of vision of Social CRM as a business strategy. In a nutshell, the Magic Quadrant is all about taking Social CRM technology to market, not about what you do with it once it’s there.

    Now on to your post.

    Inside-Out vs Outside-In

    You say that Social CRM should start with an outside-in rather than an inside-out perspective. Nothing wrong with that providing you don’t stop there. All Companies are surrounded by and enabled by an ecosystem of partners, customers and other stakeholders. When looking at Social CRM you should look at each of the stakeholders that is relevant, and then identify what they want and what they would get out of Social CRM (that is better than what they already have). This requires difficult choices to be made about which stakeholders to focus on as you can’t look at all stakeholders. Just looking at customers is as big a mistake as just looking at the Company is.

    Extending CRM vs Replacing CRM

    You say that Social is an extension of CRM rather than a replacement for it. I agree with that, but yet I don’t think you go far enough. Sure, Social CRM is often implemented as just another kind of technology-powered channel; one that somehow sits between the Company and the customer (and their social networks). But is that it? Surely not! The whole Social phenomena came about because Companies were treating customers as though they were the losing players in a zero-sum game. So customers took to the social airwaves with their grievances as a result. Contrary to popular opinion, today’s customer is largely the same as yesterday’s customer. He still wants the largely the same things, but he now has better tools to get them and to let others know when it isn’t working for him. If Social CRM is to work it has to be about more than just another channel; it has to be about empowering the customer to co-create mutual value with the Company. It has to be about a plus-sum game. But how many Companies even know what their customers really want and value? Or even care?

    People vs Technology

    You say that Social CRM should be more about people than about technology. If technology is an enabler – as it generally is – then that self-evidentially must be true. Technology enables customers to do important jobs and gain their desired outcomes better. But there is more to it than that. The history of new technology implementations is one of co-evolution of customer needs with technological capabilities. Customers have unmet needs that results in new technology. But the new technology creates new unmet needs and the cycle starts all over again. This co-evolutionary spiral is particularly strong upon the introduction of new technology when it improves old ways of working, ultimately leading to completely new ways of working. We are only just starting to see new social business models emerging. Social CRM is still as much about technology as it is about people.

    Business at the Speed of Social vs a More Human Company

    You say that Social CRM should be about creating a more human company. Whilst nobody would argue with that – my bank, insurer, telco, etc could all do with massive inputs of humanity – I can’t but help think that Social CRM is not going to be the trigger that achieves this much larger goal. Most Companies see Social CRM as an upgrade to their CRM technology. CRM 2.0 if you will. They just want better tools to enable their CRM 1.0 business models. If they did want to change their business models – to focus on mutual value co-creation for example – they wouldn’t start by looking for new technology. But they aren’t, so they will continue to buy new Social CRM technology. And neophytes will continue to read Gartner’s Magic Quadrant and still be able to keep a straight face.

    You work for a Social CRM vendor. Show us how it should be done… if you can.

    Graham Hill

  5. January 28, 2013 at 1:51 am

    “I apologize in advance, but I have never met a software application that can “Build Trust” (Sorry Siri). ”

    Not even Google Maps (turn-by-turn directions)?

  1. October 2, 2012 at 4:46 am
  2. October 2, 2012 at 8:34 am
  3. October 3, 2012 at 4:22 pm
  4. October 3, 2012 at 4:26 pm
  5. October 3, 2012 at 6:07 pm
  6. October 3, 2012 at 9:19 pm
  7. October 12, 2012 at 12:51 pm
  8. October 17, 2012 at 4:47 am
  9. October 25, 2012 at 5:23 am
  10. October 29, 2012 at 5:43 am
  11. November 5, 2012 at 1:37 pm

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: