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From Pie-in-the-Sky to Practice

I know a pretty fair amount about social CRM. I can tell you what it is, how important it is, and how you can benefit from it, whether you’re an individual (or sole proprietorship) or a large business concern. I can tell you where to start, how to own it, and what to look for as far as success is concerned. But there are limits.

In the end, I’m just one (phenomenally talented) guy. Setting up a big project strategy, seeing it through to completion, and sticking with it for deep insight crosses from social CRM into Enterprise 2.0, which is probably beyond my personal scope for now. But I was just briefed on something that makes me a little jealous, because it provides a strong option for the sometimes elusive “how” of adding the social business component.

Michael Krigsman, CEO of Asuret and respected ZDNet blogger, told me about his company’s partnership with Hinchcliffe & Company and SocialText to provide a service they’re calling Pragmatic Enterprise 2.0, a low-risk approach to getting social computing right from the start.

The intent of Pragmatic Enterprise 2.0 premise is “to bring a new level of maturity to Enterprise 2.0 and social CRM projects that hasn’t been there,” Krigsman says. “Adding social media is effective and necessary for the modern office; half of all organizations have Enterprise 2.0 tools, either by plan or virally, but real adoption and meaningful uptake is slow, and most organizations are still learning the ropes,” adds Dion Hinchcliffe, president of Hinchcliffe & Company.

Often, IT departments are unfamiliar with the tools and techniques of social CRM/E2.0, and consultants don’t always understand how larger companies buy and implement new software. Pragmatic Enterprise 2.0 aims to manage all the variables. Hinchcliffe provides the methodology and delivery, while SocialText is the go-to (though not exclusive) social tool set. Asuret is responsible for project intelligence going in and going forward.

Strategy and planning come first with Pragmatic Enterprise 2.0—which seems pragmatic to me, at least—and include Agile software development methods. Once the client’s needs and goals have been assessed and the IT requirements mapped out, the integration begins. Data gathered during the process gets analyzed, fed back into the process, and used to improve the implementation. A typical project will run 24 months, more or less, including two to six months of implementation iterations. Complex projects being complex, however, the actual timetable will vary.

I must say, the idea that somebody who writes a blog about IT failures (Krigsman) is putting his name behind what appears to be an IT implementation business raises an eyebrow for me, but I’ve met Michael and he’s definitely got the chops. SocialText and Hinchcliffe are respected names too, so this is a team.

What I’m still trying to get my head around is the nagging feeling that social CRM and/or enterprise 2.0 shouldn’t be an IT project. That’s because CRM shouldn’t be an IT project. The history of our industry tells us that, when CRM is driven by technology and technologists, it fails. But there’s no reason to tell that to somebody who writes a blog about IT failures, I hope. This Pragmatic Enterprise 2.0 thing really looks good, though, so I’m looking forward to them proving me wrong about my slight misgivings.

Speaking of respected bloggers (authors, consultants, what have you), Paul Greenberg has weighed in with his opinion: “This service is needed and I can’t think of a better group of people to bring it to market.” I’d be happy with that.