Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Enabling Social Networking within CRM Applications

A primer on integrating your CRM application to Social Networking Sites

Over the past 6 months, there has been an increase in the demand for CRM application integration with Social Networking sites. This integration allows organizations to harvest relationships that have been developed by their employees using tools like Linked in and Plaxo. In addition, this integration can be used for marketing purposes by creating corporate social networking sites on MySpace, FaceBook, LinkedIn, Plaxo, etc…

These integrations can have a significant impact on CRM user adoptions by eliminating data entry and making CRM information far more comprehensive. While Oracle and Saleforce.com are leading the way with built in social networking features, most other CRM applications can be configured to incorporate social networking functionality.

There are basically 4 levels of integration:
  1. Static Linking. By far the easiest to implement but also the most limiting. With static linking you provide a link to the social network sites that are most commonly used by your CRM users. You rely on the smarts of the social network site to do the rest. For instance, you may want to setup a research page in your CRM application and provide links to the search pages on Plaxo, Linked In and Hoovers. This can be accomplished in almost any CRM application with some basic configurations.
  2. Dynamic Linking. Most CRM applications allow you to add iFrames with mashups or dynamic links or to other web pages. The dynamic links will contain fields from the current record to allow you to navigate to the appropriate page on the destination site.
    a) Example of this for MS-CRM & LinkedIn; MS-CRM & Facebook
    b) Example of this for salesforce.com & LinkedIn
  3. Web Services Integration. Develop web services calls to social Networking sites and integrate data directly into the CRM application. This approach is ideal for creating new leads/prospects or establishing relationship maps. If the social networking site provides an API, the code can be written using the API. Otherwise a screen scraping approach can be used and data can be returned based on the current screen design. A screen scraping approach is not ideal as it can break if the social networking site changes screen designs, but for sites without an open API it is the only option.
    a) Example of this for MS-CRM & LinkedIn (Contact us)
    b) Example of this for SalesLogix & LinkedIn
    c) Example of this for salesforce.com & LinkedIn; salesforce.com & FaceBook
  4. MultiSite Integration. You may wish to aggregate data from multiple Social Networking sites. This can be accomplished by creating custom code that integrates with each site or by leveraging a common social networking framework. There are two emerging frameworks fbOpen from Facebook and Open Social from Google.
    a) salesforce.com OpenSocial Strategy
    b) Oracle’s OpenSocial Strategy

Developer/API Resources:


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pwoodford said...

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brandstation.tv – corporate social networks