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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 …..

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