SECOND FEED: Last week I met with Anthony Lye, Senior Vice President at Oracle for CRM. Anthony is responsible for the new CRM product, Social CRM, launched at last year's OneWorld, demo'd there by Lye and Larry Ellison, and coming full stream into beta by the summer with 100 customers.
A lot of smart people have already commented on the product, and all I can add is that the solution strikes me as visually elegant, absolutely intuitive and a compelling user experience. More importantly, relevant data is available from Day One and only improves with socialized content, which is aggregated across companies, but not attributable to any singular enterprise. (Company data that is attributable is protected within that company.) The content does not have to be forced into the database, which was the failure of prior CRM systems, and Oracle has some terrific content partners, including Reuters. Rather than rely on over-taxed salespeople being "managed" into adding content, the system adds value - and a certain amount of delight - to each user experience. It also relies, as Lye told me, on the cumulative "network effect," i.e. the greater the engagement the greater the proliferation and the greater the value of the content. (Hence, a large beta pool.) The "SlideShare"-like module alone is a huge leap forward, totally socialized and able to capture the value proposition, so that a salesperson can say, "I know which slides win deals."
Here's the mashup: When Lye explained to me that the difference between Social CRM and the old stuff was like the difference between social and transactional theory a bell went off: this is Doc's and Jay's territory. Lye is also familiar with VRM and sees it as not the first stage of Social CRM, but definitely the direction in which it's heading. Even in beta the social aspects will connect partners with an enterprise's sales, and as the network grows, as he says, "there is space in the network for the customer." As a member of the network, the customer could approach the optimal state of VRM, where the customer is in control of the sales process: think you, as the customer, will be able to create the slide that will "sell" you. Social CRM, by the way, will be available in every Oracle contractual option, whether licensed-based or SaaS.
So yes, Doc, there is a VRM solution from a major player coming soon. For more information on VRM, scan Jay's posts or connect with him directly on this site, or on thecustomercollective.com.