Lyle Fong is CEO and Co-Founder of Lithium Technologies. Prior to starting Lithium Technologies, Lyle co-founded GX Media, where he was the CTO. He drove the development of Gamers.com, which was rated the #1 independent gaming portal by Nielsen NetRatings.
On the Lithosphere he is LyleF
For the past decade, we have been helping companies build successful, vibrant customer communities. Throughout that time, it has been great to hear stories of how these communities have helped improve the ways they’ve done business. But while the success stories were abundant, most of the communities were not launched with a clear ROI in mind. The industry was too new – and the early pioneers who blazed the path did so with full understanding that there was a real risk of failure.
But a little more than year ago, three trends emerged that changed everything:
When we saw these trends occurring, we recognized that we too must change. Talking with our customers about their goals, we realized that what we were doing was no longer about building communities for the sake of it, but rather, helping companies embrace the new era of the social customer. Hence, we embraced the term Social CRM.
To be clear, we don’t think that Social CRM = Social + CRM. CRM systems are great, and very useful for many things – but they are purposefully designed and built for a transactional world, one where companies engage customers in a 1-to-1 basis. We find it ironic that traditional CRM companies are now claiming they have a Social CRM solution, when really what they’re doing is “Social-as-another-channel” CRM.
On the contrary, the social web is all about many-to-many relationships, social graphs, word of mouth, peer-to-peer. Social CRM = (Social Customer) + Relationship Management. This is a new paradigm that requires a completely new set of technologies, methodologies, and business processes. And with it comes the first real opportunity for companies to transform themselves to become truly customer-centric.
The acquisition of Scout Labs gets us closer to realizing this vision.
Yes, more and more customers today are asking for a unified solution that combines community + social web engagement + real-time voice of the customer.
Yes, Scout is a leader in the social media monitoring space. Arguably, they are also one of the fastest growing – adding over 350 great customers since they launched less than a year ago.
And yes, they have a great analytics dashboard that exposes insights from over three years of social web data.
But these were not the primary reasons we did this combination. From the beginning, Jenny, Margaret and the Scout Labs team have been maniacally focused on delivering the easiest-to-use application in the social monitoring space. And it’s not for the obvious reason. Their reason was that the real-time pulse of what customers are saying should not be locked up deep inside a company’s marketing research department, PR department, or agency. Instead, every employee should be plugged into the real-time pulse of the customer – and that is why it must absolutely be ridiculously easy-to-use.
We wholeheartedly agree – for Social CRM to be truly transformative, it must bring the entire organization closer to the social customer!
While this acquisition was in itself 9 months in the making, to us, it is only the beginning. Of course, joint customers benefit from best-of-breed solutions from a single vendor. But the true value will come as we combine the technologies in ways not possible as standalone products. The ability to combine broad social web data, deep community behavioral data, and CRM transaction data to get a true 360 degree view of the social customer is now close at hand.
Meanwhile, we’re all really excited to integrate the two companies. Jenny (Scout Labs’ CEO) will join our executive team as Chief Social Strategist after she returns from maternity leave, and I’m happy to say that we’ll now have offices in San Francisco as well. And the real icing on the cake is that it turns out Jochen (Scout Labs’ CTO) was a regional table tennis champion in Germany! In case you didn’t know, Lithium is part of a super-secret underground ping pong “fight club” league in the valley. We are always looking for other companies to join, so drop me a note if you know folks who might be interested!
You must be a registered user to add a comment. If you've already registered, sign in. Otherwise, register and sign in.