Satya Krishnaswamy, the founder of Next Principles, has a CRM background from his time working at SAP. His understanding of CRM comes through in abundance in both the product and positioning of Next Principles. They opened their presentation with the assertion that most businesses to data have approached Social Media in a silo from their enterprise systems (in particular CRM) and that social insight without action is entirely worthless. In our view, a fair comment.
Next Principles aim to address this challenge from the outset by building their solution (called “Insight into Action”) with integration in mind. So far they have started with Sugar CRM & Salesforce.com and they have worked with SAP and Ariba as co-development partners to build a surprisingly functionally rich product in just 12 months.
The product is a SaaS offering with 4 core modules:
- Event & Campaign Analytics (which was co-developed with SAP)
- Community Engagement (developed with Ariba)
- Contact Management
- Social Performance Management (co-developed with SAP)
CRM integration features across these modules in the form of aggregated customer profiles (Next Principles describe this as an “uber profile”) and business process integration, for example, integration into lead generation or complaint management.
The aggregated customer profile, in particular was impressive. This can either be accessed through Next Principles, which would pull customer data from CRM, or it can be pushed to Sugar CRM or Salesforce.com to avoid creating another place for marketing, sales, service people to have to access.
Satya spent much of the presentation session showing us the product, and in particular showing us the Evant and Campaign Analytics offering, developed with SAP as a co-development customer. The module allows Marketeers to creaate social analytics containers to match their key marketing events or campaigns. The events are simple to set up and once set up, they capture and analyse the activity in social media relating to the marketing event, the time period, and the hashtags or accounts that you include or exclude. Now that one it’s own would not be particularly differentiating. However, what followed was impressive. Next Principles went on to show us how the Event and Campaign Analytics offering then created an infographic for the marketeer, reporting on the success of the event or campaign:
They then showed how the data captured from the event could be analysed and sent for follow up action. For example they showed us some basic social network analysis capabilities to analyse who the key commenters were, driving traffic and activity:
Finally, they showed how analysis of the event could then be used to drive lead generation inside a CRM system. Once you have excluded employees or partners and analysed the conversations aroudn the event, you can create a list to export to your CRM system as new contacts or leads for existing clients (shown below in Salesforce.com):
This makes a lot of sense. Why bother going to the trouble of setting up your social presense and engaging potential customers during an event if you don’t follow up with interested parties, and in particular, follow up in an integrated way with marketing and sales working together?
The themes of CRM integration extended into the Community Engagement and Contact Management modules. Next Principles showed us a tracked they had developed with Ariba to monitor the social stream of news and act on relevent posts either within Next Principles (for example, through direct reply or workflow) of by creating a follow up lead, activity or complaint in CRM.
Again the thinking makes sense. Not every piece of social noise needs to be actioned or stored inside a CRM system, but diamonds hidden in the rough do need attention and follow up. Next Principles recognise that they are not a CRM vendor but the customer data and business process execution that sits within most CRM systems is important to deal with the customer in the right way.
In the final part of the demo, Next Principles briefly showed us their Social Performance Management module. Most organisation have tens if not hundreds of social media accounts. Quite simply, Social Performance Management aims to consolidate all your accounts in one place and analyse their performance. We didn’t get a chance to drill into this module in detail but what we saw followed same pattern as the rest of the product, namly easy to use functionality designed for a business user that aims to help them accelerate some otherwise painful tasks.
So what next for Next Principles? From a roadmap perspective they plan to focus on building out their workflow capabilities and building predictive analytics. From a company perspective we see the next 12 months as crucial for the company. In a short period of time they have signed some big-name co-development partners and built out a solid product with a real strength in CRM integration. Their challenge will now be to scale. For us that means signing more clients, building out their use cases (for example, we would like to see more usage of campaign analytics rather than just marketing event analytics and we would like to see more client results demonstrating returns), and finally extending their CRM integration to other platforms. From what we saw in the presentation the company has a great understanding of Enterprise Software and what it takes to be successful so we think that Next Principles will be one to watch over the coming months and years. Our one concern will be how much functionality the main CRM vendors will build in this area as they too extend their product offerings into Social. However, if Next Principles can win over the business users and keep IT happy with the ease of their integration then this challenge can be mitigated.
Reviewed by CRM Idol 2012 Primary Judges
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