Social Networks & CRM

Knowing Me, Knowing You...

I just finished watching a great webcast on Channel9 (the Microsoft community site for developers) covering Knowledge Network, a new add-on for the up-coming release of SharePoint Server 2007. Knowledge Network automates the discovery and sharing of knowledge and relationships, enabling you to quickly locate who knows whom and who knows what within your constantly changing organisation. It consists of a client component installed on each person's desktop, and extracts keywords and key contacts from your e-mail threads and ranks "what you know" and "who you know". The server component, allows each person to choose what information gets uploaded to SharePoint, and builds a picture of "who knows who" throughout your organisation.

Over the last few months, virtualy every customer I have met as part of my CRM day-job, has been looking to gain real insight into their customer relationships and leverage what I call "corporate memory". A real example of this was an investment banking customer I spoke with last week, who had a very real problem when account managers leave the company and take their clients with them to a competitor. They had no understanding of who else within their organisation (aside from the account manager) had a relationship (formal or informal) with a particular customer. Obviously this is a great scenario for Microsoft CRM, as you can analyse the activity history for a particular client and work out who else in you organisation was communicating with them. However, this is only half of the story. There is no real insight into the relative strength of these relationships, and capturing this type of information manualy is doomed to failure - how do you get staff to assess and record their relationship with every single person they deal with?

Wouldn't it be great if there were some way to combine the analytical world of structured data and tasks within Microsoft CRM with the unstructured, collaborative data which is always fresh and up-to-date from SharePoint. I don't know how easy this would be to implement, but if I make any progress I shall let you know.

You can watch the Knowledge Network webcast here, as well as reading about it here.

This posting is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights.