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TORONTO—Just one week after San Francisco-based Salesforce.com announced they would buy social media monitoring vendor Radian6, an executive with the hosted customer relationship management vendor shared his thoughts on what a social networking model means for businesses.
 

“It means what you need to know comes looking for you to tell you that’s what’s happening,” said Peter Coffee, Salesforce.com’s vice-president and head of platform research, on the Toronto stop of a North American tour.

Coffee said companies need “social systems” that care about what businesses want to know, which is why Salesforce.com came out with Chatter, a collaborative CRM. While Chatter gives the impression of an application, it also is an developer API for building rules to filter events and bring those events to a business’s attention, said Coffee.

In the same vein, this social networking model factors behind the company acquiring Radian6 to offer customers that social process monitoring capability, said Coffee.

Several Canadian customers, in attendance, spoke with ComputerWorld Canada about how they’re using Salesforce.com and their thoughts on the social networking model as it pertains to business.

Peng Hon Yong, vice-president with Toronto-based TD Securities, said the financial institution is using Salesforce.com’s CRM for broader visibility into global accounts that might otherwise be siloed.
 

“We don’t want to just be in the business of selling ‘Account A: Precious Metals.’ We also want to leverage that relationship … and be better able to cross-market,” said Hon Yong.

But, overall, TD Bank’s adoption of technology is driven by a business problem, not vice-versa. With cloud computing, for instance, Hon Yong said the discussion in IT is always about finding best ways to quickly and cheaply use technology, whether cloud or not, to solve business challenges.

Similarly, that approach is applied to social computing at TD Bank. If it will drive value to the business, then it’s of interest but the bank won’t adopt the model just to seek out a problem, said Hon Yong.

Another customer, Mississauga, Ont.-based Innovapost Inc., the joint venture between IT services firm CGI and Purolator affiliate Canada Post, uses a Salesforce.com-based system to streamline manual processes involving the status of parcels in transit.
 

David Rea, senior vice-president for Purolator Client Services with Innovapost, said the injection of social into processes has a place for enterprises in the long run. “As IT professionals, it’s important to understand how to take advantage of that because it’s a very powerful aspect of your business processes in corporations,” said Rea.

But an injection of social is still a business process issue; not a technology problem, noted Rea.

Earlier that day, Coffee had explained that making IT systems more intelligent, as part of being social, is about having data start a conversation with the employee. Instead of the employee going out to search for the data relevant to their specific job.

Rea thought that an interesting and revealing comment especially considering the complexity of businesses today. “The more the systems can be proactive about telling you that we’re going to have a problem … it makes people much more efficient in their jobs,” said Rea.

Follow Kathleen Lau on Twitter: @KathleenLau



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