Sunday, June 3, 2012

ERP and Social Media: A Marriage Made in Data Management Heaven?

As social media becomes the preferred contact and feedback venue for customers, companies struggle how to integrate it into existing forms of data management.  Since Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems manage data across a business, the question of how to manage the data coming in from social media with existing computer service resources. 

 Influence already there

 While most social media platforms may seem outside the normal scope of a business' operations, the reality is that most employees already use them in their daily activity.  And without a carefully thought out and executed plan, they're doing so outside the reach of company firewalls and IT support. 

This also sets up a compliance issue- if communication between the company and consumers is not recorded, what will happen during a litigation or audit hold on documents?  How can the company document their business when the information is not being recorded? 

Integrating  Social Media With CMS

One of the easiest ways to capture the data is to combine it with a company's CMS (content management system) program.  Since CMS provides a central location for internal and external documents, it makes sense to place social media interactions into an equally accessible point. 

 Some CMS can treat social media like a single user, directing their marketing efforts in a unified manner across the platforms as diverse as You Tube and Pinterest.  This will help build messaging and brand unity. 

 Since a function of ERP is to assist in customer service through services such as customer contact, marketing and call support, as social media is becoming "the voice of the customer," it makes sense to integrate both formats as tightly as possible in the future. 

 Social Model of Customer Service 

As customers demand more and more "real time" responses to inquiries and complaints about a company's products and customer service, employees who use message boards, wikis, blogs and other platforms that have a lag time, are looked at as unresponsive.  Customers expect to have responses when they need it.  A customer complaining about poor airline service on Twitter will receive enough exposure to create a PR nightmare for a company that cannot respond to the complaint in what the customer feels is a timely manner.  Employees who are handicapped by an ERP that is not integrated with the way that the customer wants to communicate cannot provide the level of customer service expected. 

 Some Experts Disagree

 Since purchasing an ERP is effectively a B2B (business to business) decision, many experts argue that there is no reason to concentrate on the word of mouth that drives traffic social media.  Leave the marketing campaigns for products that are packaged directly to consumers. 

Social media has become the way that customers talk to companies, whether in negative or positive ways.  A company that sticks to a ERP that excludes social media is limiting the way their own responsiveness to their customers.  With methods like CMS integration that can allow information captured through social media, companies can become more responsive to their market.

This article was provided on behalf of Toronto's leading IT managed service and Maunufacturing software solution provider,

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