In my perennial search for the NEXT BIG THING I have recently been writing about shared data services and realtime search. This morning I find the two spaces might be coming together. Salesforce.com’s Service Cloud, perhaps one of the best examples of a service which shows the potential for sharing data, has announced that due to demand from their 6,800 customers they will integrate Twitter by the summer.
This move has got others wondering whether Twitter can be the basis of a social CRM, and there are a number of companies like CoTweet pursuing this opportunity. I think there is definitely value in companies mining the realtime data stream for customer service and even sales and marketing, but I think the real value in realtime search for Twitter and others will be unleashed by consumer facing services. (Note that ‘realtime data’ includes, but is not limited to Twitter – e.g. Faceconnector is already using Salesforce to mine Facebook data for CRM purposes.)
With a nod to VRM thinking, I think that consumer services which allow you to monitor and interact with the realtime feed on your chosen topic area over a period of months will create a lot of value for both the consumer and advertiser.
As an example, on the consumer side tools that mirror the slow process of moving towards major purchase decisions that we all have offline (dipping in and out, periodic periods of intense research, focusing in when we happen to be in the room with a relevant expert, sharing information with co-decision makers) would be very useful and I think are only possible now that we have Twitter and Facebook to work with. For the advertiser the information generated by this search process is very valuable, obviously for retailers of the subject of the search, but also for related products and other products a similar person might buy. E.g. if I spend six months investigating cars and home in on Audi and Mercedes that is of obvious interest to the car companies, and to insurance and finance companies, but also to other brands whose target customers drive these vehicles.
The nod to VRM comes because the data generated by the realtime search is a kind of personal data store and I suspect the right privacy model is to give the user 100% control of this data and which parts of it are made available to advertisers. Possibly even to the extent of allowing them to choose which brands they will give access to – business model TBD.