The killer Social CRM application!
In business we talk about CRM and managing all the touches any organization makes from all departments to its customers. This way the tech support rep knows when the sales guy promises a customer something and they both know when that customer has spoken to a VP or the CEO. In our personal lives as opposed to our work lives we struggle to manage e-mail, IM, Facebooking, LinkedIning, Blogging, Twittering, etc.. Basically what we need is a configurable portal with a more efficient, standardized and powerful UI than any of our apps and sites offer us individually (and perhaps we need some form of reporting as well? – interesting thought). Either we blow these contacts off when they get overwhelming or we blow the rest of life off to stay engaged with all the various means of communication. There should be a better way, shouldn’t there? I’m proposing to call this new type of interface or application Social CRM or maybe SRM (Social Relationship Management). It would consist of an interface that manages all our e-mail, social networking sites, blogging, IM and our Calendar. There are probably other things I should throw into the kitchen sink as well, but I’ll add them later (now I’m going to get on my bike and take a ride in the real world).
Well, I spent most of my day going through all my e-mail, reading news, facebooking, plaxoing and LinkedIning again. I have been thinking about how to deal with this for a while and have looked at some tools like Digsby, but they don’t really seem to work for me. What would be nicest I think would be to have an application like Outlook, but either in Java or a Cloud app, that integrated all your e-mail, social networking and news. It would also be nice if you could do your blogging and tweeting from that app and even better would be if it could automatically purge and archive all your info in a MySQL database and had powerful tools for searching (natural language searches anyone?) that database. Oh, and it would have to have portability and backup capabilities like sync and export/import (in many formats). Ideally it would be highly configurable in both UI and options so that you didn’t have to configure and reconfigure it. Oh, and while I’m asking for the moon it might as well have IM capabilities as well. With all the rage for smart phones and the reported imminent demise of the desktop/laptop (laptops are the new desktops now aren’t they except for graphics workstations, gaming systems and servers) no one is really looking to create the killer app for a full OS/Gui these days it seems. Oh well, sigh. Here are the things I would like to manage (all communication) in one app:
- E-mail – 3 addresses: personal, work and job hunting (one should be able to see one account or all accounts and it should archive according to your rules – search should be powerful too)
- Calendar (should be able to take appointments and notes from
- Task List – To Do
- Social Networking – Facebook (for friends), LinkedIn (for work) and Plaxo (for address book and possibly Calendar), Twitter
- News Feeds through RSS
- Oh, and while were are at it, it might as well manage all our bookmarks with accounts and passwords!
I must look into the APIs for the Social Networking sites and tools to see if we can add them to something like Thunderbird and Open Office in order to make the ultimate killer application. Here are the API pages:
The idea would be to create an application with a UI that each user could arrange to their own satisfaction in order that it be as intuitive as possible. It would also be highly efficient to use automating many tasks and only taking one click (learning maybe) to do the most common tasks (like moving an e-mail to folders). Post your thoughts on SRM here and I’ll respond.
Actually, in writing this I am seeing some possibilities. All these applications are essentially of three types: reading, writing, or reading and writing. All the apps/sites can mostly have data pulled to be read or written with an API like POP, IMAP Graph API or some other. The reading apps mostly have messages of some length in a list that can be read like a list of e-mails (with a reading pane), a list of messages in Twitter, a newsfeed in Facebook or a list of contacts in Plaxo, LinkedIn or Facebook. In fact Outlook (or as I prefer to call it LookOut!) actually manages messages, contacts and calendar and allows you to read and write to both, but it doesn’t identify where those messages come from or allow you to easily hide your personal e-mail so you can concentrate on your work e-mail for example. So in effect, if one could app the APIs to pull in FB, LI, Plaxo and Twitter data and you could easily manage what data you wanted to work with in your UI then Outlook might be close to the perfect tool. I guess in some sense the various social networking/messaging platforms have just outrun Outlook. This leaves the question of whether it would make sense to reinvent the wheel when all Microsoft would have to do is add plug-ins for the social networking platforms or whether someone should build a new cloud platform that will obsolete Outlook?