Looming Talent Crunch in Social CRM

Talk to senior or middle level executives in Marketing or IT about Social Media or Enterprise 2.0 and you will see their face light up immediately with excitement from perceived opportunity and with fear from perceived threat – all at once. Most executives will tell you that they want to leverage Social Media and Enterprise 2.0 tools and technology for engaging their customers and employees but don’t know what to do or how to go about it. There is real shortage of “talented” people who understand both – Social Media/Enterprise 2.0 AND existing marketing and IT systems/processes like CRM and ERP.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that there is a shortage of Social Media consultants or self proclaimed “experts”. They are dime a dozen (or should I say tweet a dozen). What I am saying is that we have a shortage of people who really understand the power and potential of Social Media/Enterprise 2.0 tools AND can relate these tools to existing marketing/IT processes.

Just ask any self-proclaimed Social Media “expert” or Social CRM “guru” how many years’ experience they have implementing CRM solutions and for which companies have they implemented CRM, ERP, BPM, MDM or similar solutions? How many CRM “As Is” and “To Be” process flows have they mapped or how many Use Cases have they written? For how many clients have they documented CRM business requirements (BRs), Functional Requirements (FRs) or have designed the CRM system? What are their thoughts on integrating CRM system with multiple other enterprise information systems like Billing, Finance, HR? Can they describe current best practices when it comes to Data Migration or MDM? (heck, ask them what MDM stands for?) You can judge expertise of self-proclaimed gurus based on response to these questions. It is easy to browse internet, collect few talking points, prepare a sleek presentation and lecture unsuspecting audience about Social CRM, but when it comes to real life Social CRM, these are the questions we need to ask and there is a shortage of people who are good at both, Social Media AND Enterprise Solutions.

In the past few months, we have seen a shift in attitude among senior marketing and IT executives in favor of using Social Media and Enterprise 2.0 tools for engaging customers/employees and resources are being budgeted for Social Media initiatives. Spending on Social CRM solutions is likely to rise exponentially during 2011-2013 time-frame and in just 24 months from now, Social CRM will account for a major chunk of CRM (and Enterprise Solutions) market.

Unfortunately, we don’t have supply of talented people in enough numbers to match this demand in Social CRM space. Real bottleneck to growth in Social CRM is lack of competent people to drive sCRM initiatives. Unless you have the right people guiding your Social CRM initiatives, you are likely to go wrong and as we know, failure is not an option when it comes to Social Media.

Given my experience implementing CRM Solutions for more than a decade, having successfully managed many large and complex CRM projects for Fortune 500 companies in the US, here’s my suggestion: Identify people in your organization who “get” Social Media and know about existing marketing/IT systems and processes. Empower them to drive your Social CRM initiatives.

And since there are so few good consultants available for recruitment when it comes to Social CRM, Management Consulting and IT Services companies should identify consultants in their organization who “get” Social Media, are active on Social Media channels and entrust them task of building Social Media/Social CRM competency with specific focus on industry verticals (like Banking, Insurance, Retail, Pharma and Health Care, Travel & Hospitality to name just a few).

Sooner they do this, better for them as only those consulting and IT services companies who can bring right thought leaders and talented teams to the table for addressing growing demand in Social CRM space are likely to emerge as winners and can expect to corner a lions share of the market. This is all the more important given importance of Social CRM to senior marketing and IT executives in client organizations. Although size of Social CRM projects (in terms of revenue or team size) may be small as compared to large ERP or CRM projects, given the criticality and visibility of Social CRM initiatives, a successful sCRM solution implementation can open doors for many large “transformational” projects involving Social Media and Enterprise 2.0. It is absolutely vital that Management Consulting and IT services companies have right talent in place for leveraging Social CRM opportunity.

What do you think? Do you agree that we are facing a talent crunch when it comes to Social CRM? What is your experience. Look forward to hearing your thoughts on the subject …..


22 responses to “Looming Talent Crunch in Social CRM

  1. There’s a lot less ‘social media snake oil gurus’ in the industrial sector of the market, as you do actually need to have some experience of deploying social CRM or E 2.0 to have any real credibility. I’ve not thought about a shortage of the people with the real skills before, but logically it should follow. Nice place to be for those of us who have practical experience in deploying and evangelising the E 2.0 stuff for sure.!

    • Thanks for your comment. Much appreciated:

      I agree with you completely that it a nice place to be for those of us who have practical experience in deploying and evangelizing the E 2.0/Social CRM as real life experience in implementing CRM solutions scores over “Twitter Gurus” any day!

      Thanks again for your comment:
      Harish Kotadia, Ph.D.

  2. Hi Harish I think there are a number of aspects to this topic. Firstly I think we are speaking about a developing cross-functional co-ordinating space in business where a new collection of skills are required. Many customer related opportunities exist in scrm, crm, voice of the customer, customer journey mapping etc that were not present even 5 years ago. Secondly, we now need skilled folks who can inform, facilitate and monitor company wide activities that impact on the customer experience. The operational silos will still retain the accountability for delivery. It’s a bit like accountancy and HR before we decided to handle these in a cross functional space. My name for these people is clienteers and I think it does help to use some new language around this space rather than “adjusting” the existing language of marketing, IT, customer service etc which all have legacy meanings in different businesses

    • Thanks Ray for sharing your thoughts. Much appreciated.

      Social CRM is a rapidly evolving area and I agree that there are many customer related opportunities in scrm, crm, voice of the customer etc.. that were not present even 5 years ago.

      Leveraging these opportunities require out of the box thinking and those who are good at it and understand Social Media and CRM well can capitalize on Social CRM opportunities.

      Thanks again for sharing your thoughts,

      Harish Kotadia, Ph.D.

  3. I totally agree about the talent crunch but I would like to add one more aspect. Although people are the real drive behind social CRM – most of them would like to use a computerized platform to help them with this time consuming task. There is a huge gap between the possibilities of social CRM and current available platforms that can help marketers with their work

    • Excellent point. Agree that there is a huge gap between the possibilities of social CRM and current available platforms that can help marketers with their work.

      And if large vendors don’t fill this gap soon, many smaller companies will occupy that niche.

      Thanks for your comment.

      Harish Kotadia, Ph.D.

  4. Hi Harish, thanks for this great post. I agree with you and my commenting folks! I think that there is a major challenge in getting the right people to drive your SCRM initiatives. As I say to several of my peers and friends, it is hard to find people who “get it” and who understand the various aspects of offline & online relationships in Marketing & Sales. The successful companies will be the ones who find the talents that bridge the traditional channels and the more recent digital ones, that includes mobile platforms. But the most important is never to forget the end-users of the so called collaborative systems – who from my point of you have been often out of the discussions. Some of our folks talk about the “Job to be done” and several “gurus” never asked themselves what was the Job the marketers & other sales people are trying to get done 😉 ‘ve been there too and surely will be there again. Thanks for this focus.

    • Thanks for your kind words Frederic:

      You are right in that successful companies will be the ones who find the talents that bridge the traditional channels and the more recent digital ones and that it is important never to forget the end-users of the so called collaborative systems. 

      From my vantage point, I see lot more action in Social CRM space now than say in the first quarter of this year. And many large and medium companies are hiring aggressively. Talent crunch will become worse as demand picks up.

      Winners in all this are the people who get it and who can “get the job done” – in real sense/real world (as you have pointed out!!).

      Thanks again for your comment.

      Harish Kotadia, Ph.D. 

  5. sCRM needs technology to catch up but agree with the main thrust of your piece, thanks!

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  8. Satya Krishnaswamy

    Hi Harish – thanks for the great post. I have sold and implemented CRM solutions for a very large software vendor in my previous life. Now as an entrepreneur in the ‘Social CRM’ space, I see many of the same mistakes of ‘CRM 1.0’ being repeated by organizations. 

    Many of them are treating Social Media channels as a category separate from the more traditional channels of email, phone and face to face interactions. They run the real danger of recreating silos all over again.In addition, the Social Media initiatives at some companies are being run by folks who are very bright and experienced with the world of Social Media but who are mostly in the dark about either existing CRM processes within their company or new ones that need to be designed.Finally, some of the thundering herd of ‘Social CRM’ vendors are helping perpetuate these ‘worst practices’ by focusing entirely on the front-end of the Customer Experience process – they would be better labeled as ‘Social Media Monitoring’ solution providers :)Satya

    • Thanks Satya for visiting my blog and sharing your thoughts. Much appreciated!

      I agree with you that organizations are repeating the same mistakes they made in CRM 1.0 I have written about it in the past and you may want to check out my post: 5 Lessons Social CRM can Learn from CRM (Link: http://hkotadia.com/archives/2411 ).

      You are 100% correct in that companies retain their “Silo” thinking when it comes to Social Media and are under-taking Social initiatives without taking into consideration existing CRM processes. 

      And about vendors, their front lines sales people (of course, commission based compensation) use every trick to sale their wares and maximize their commission, err their sales!

      As customers continue to use Social Media channels like Twitter and Facebook to air their opinions about brands and products, marketers will soon realize their current approach isn’t working and that is the time demand for people with Social Media expertise and CRM background will sky rocket (imagine the size of Customer Support industry out there!). 

      This is why I have chosen to highlight the looming talent crunch in Social CRM via this post.

      Thanks again for sharing your thoughts,

      Harish Kotadia, Ph.D.

  9. I mostly agree with your post, and have written about this fairly often myself, but with one significant difference in perspective. 

    I don’t necessarily see that there is as much of a critical shortage of skilled resources who have strategic and tactical skill with Enterprise, ERP, CRM apps/suites/processes, plus an understanding of social customer psychology.  Rather, I think there is indeed a pool of resources out there that the ‘big’ social business vendors aren’t tapping into yet, or at least they’re not moving them into high enough roles in the organization where they can have real impact on the overall direction of delivery strategies and the creation of real customer success stories. We are the missing link – the real practitioners between the Preachers and the Pioneers, but we’re not being well utilized. 

    I think a big part of the challenge isn’t a lack of resources, but vendors not understanding who the resources are, and why they should be recruiting them.
    I number quite a few candidates to fit the bill amongst my own friends and colleagues, but it’s a tough task to get the attention of the big vendors unless you’re perceived as a social media voice or blogger versus a battle-worn, ‘in-the-trenches’ talent treasure.  I’d lay bets on all of them, (myself included), in a challenge against most of the self-proclaimed social business gurus on something as simple as development of a plan of execution.  I have no doubt I’d make a killing on that wager. But, first we must get past the gate-keepers to those who are willing to take up that challenge.

    I’ll add a little personal research via this snippet copied from from one of my posts on this topic:

    “Looking at the positions posted on three ‘top’ social platform vendor sites doesn’t bode well for the clients. While we’re all searching for success stories, I forecast many dismal failures ahead if the right people aren’t being used in the right ways. Of 55 jobs posted by those vendors offering social collaboration solutions for businesses, only 4 of the jobs listed have any sort of business analysis consulting or enterprise software implementation experience as a requirement. That’s nothing short of scary.”

    As you astutely clarified, it’s not just an issue of hiring the right resources, either. Ideally, when resources such as ourselves are recruited into any of these organizations, they should be utilized as a cadre of Drill Sergeants who can cross-train and mentor those coming up in the ranks as the next generation of service professionals. It’s not enough to rally the troops with a new battle cry, we need to be in a position to carefully build best practices, share basic tenets of consultancy, architect best practices, and vet the competency levels of the rest of the team.  We need to write the narratives for social enterprise from within.

    I’m game. As are several skilled colleagues.  Now what? 

    • Sadly,  I come across very few companies with recruitment resources to filter for an experienced cadre of
      Drill Sergeants who can cross-train and mentor. Fire in the hole!

    • Thanks @krcraft for your sharing your thoughts, much appreciated! 

      I have been in the forefront of eCRM revolution since its inception more than 10 years’ back. And if I can relate to how things were when CRM was “eCRM” (before large vendors entered the field in a big way), I can say that once consolidation happened in the industry, demand for talent sky rocketed, and is still strong even now for experienced CRM, ERP IT professionals. We are at “consolidation” stage when it comes to Social CRM – just see all the M&A in the last one month alone and a string of IPOs in Social Media. 
      As I have highlighted in the post, demand for talent will pick up going forward. Experienced CRM/ERP professionals can benefit from this coming boom by picking up required technical skills in the area and by becoming experts in technology/tools used in Social CRM – SFDC/Radian6 for example and similarly for Oracle, SAP and Microsoft too. 

      There are many Social CRM pundits (preachers), but if one is expert in using the tools and delivering Social CRM solution using some of the leading tools, that person is going to be highly valued. Just my 2 cents worth of wisdom!Thanks again for your comment,Harish Kotadia, Ph.D.

      • Agreed, but I circle back to my point: I know several who are skilled and highly competetent in all of those technologies, but the vendors don’t appear to be quite as eager to value that as you think they are?  

        Perhaps your org is, but I can assure you that some of the others you listed aren’t yet. ;-P

        I maintain that there is a genuine need for more voices like your own within the Cloud Cabal upper levels – who do recognize they type of talent required to pull it all together – and will subsequently change both their recruiting practices and role requirements. 

      • @KRCraft – I see lot of forward momentum on Social CRM. Hopefully recruiting by large Enterprise App vendors will pick up too, so tighten your seat belt and enjoy the Social CRM ride!

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