sdl, sm2, social media monitoring, social intelligence, customer experience

As a recent Forrester report on social media points out, engaging customers via social media is becoming ever more complex. In the enterprise, this level of disruption is not to be dismissed, and SDL, maker of the leading Tridion CMS, has put itself on the path to integrate social to a degree we perhaps haven’t seen yet.

Social Tools in the Suite

SDL is building its customer experience management suite, and like other enterprise vendors, it has done so via acquisition. Its social intelligence product is called SM2, and it was picked up in 2012 via SDL’s buyout of Alterian. That acquisition is nearly ready to bear full fruit because Alterian is close to being totally integrated with Tridion, Mark Lancaster, SDL CEO said at an SDL conference in June.

"Social is all about listening," Lancaster said.

We’ve focused a lot of our efforts there, particularly after the acquisition of Alterian. Our product allows people to follow the customer journey; if customers can make use of customer interaction information, it could be powerful."

As the company approaches its core integration of Alterian and Tridion, it has begun to more strategically talk about its place in the CXM world, starting with Lancaster’s keynote at SDL Innovate. The company has a global CXM strategy, and social is big part of that.

In fact, SDL conducted market research this year around its messaging on social intelligence and social data, and the results validated what the company had been doing, Misia Tramp, VP of Insight and Innovation at SDL said in an interview. Trump came over to SDL in the Alterian buy where she worked after her own company, Intrepid Consulting, was bought up in 2010.

"It’s been motivating to see how SDL has adopted the listening tools," Tramp said of the ongoing integration. Having come over with the Alterian team in 2012, she’s had an opportunity to see the process up close.

Mark has been instrumental in that (adopting social), but we’ve been doing it for a long time."

SDL's Customer Commitment Framework

As one of the architects of SDL’s recent market research, Trump found there was a bit of confusion around the idea of social data and social intelligence in general. The SDL Social Intelligence: Understanding the Marketplace report surveyed 500 respondents, less than half of whom could recognize even one social intelligence brand.

While people may not have as strong of an attachment to social listening as they do to social networking, if SDL can own that space, it has a chance to really differentiate itself on CXM. Among the weapons in its holster is the SM2 Social listening system, a way for customers to track and analyze information from blogs, message boards, wikis and even classified sites (like Craigslist) and review sites.

SDL SM2, social media monitoring, customer experience

SM2 has an enormous data warehouse, including 41 billion social media mentions, blogs, tweets, posts and images going back to 2007. The data is cleansed and stored and SM2 analyzes it in many different ways. SM2 is the backbone of what SDL calls its Customer Commitment Framework, a way for its customers to see and even predict how people shop, share and advocate for a given product or service.

SDL Weaving Social into its Customer Experience Management Suite
Identify and target social influencers, and help convert them into advocates with SDL’s Customer Commitment Dashboard.

SDL’s Customer Commitment Dashboard is the software component of the framework, and it is used to find out what the highest profile customers are saying about a company. Then, SDL says it can actually predict the next step customers will take.

The ability to predict and particularly to influence what people buy and why, might just be the holy grail of digital technology, a fact not lost on SDL. That is why it is pushing hard on social, and clearly why it thinks it can use its integrated system to leap ahead on this tremendously promising field.

Predicting Holistic Customer Experiences

Using the Customer Commitment Framework scoring, SDL customers get statistically measurable benchmarks with which to measure customer experiences. This product commitment journey, as SDL calls it starts with the Product Commitment Score, a way to measure how people shop against a product’s value proposition.

The next measurement is called the Customer Relevance Score, a way to tell and predict how people share content and engage with a brand or company. Using these score’s together with the third measurement, the Brand Commitment Score, a way to measure advocacy, customers can create structured data that can be used in campaign planning and tracking processes, for example.

Furthermore, the framework is just the out of the box ability of the software, SDL offers the ability to provide qualitative online research to provide more customized insights.

Marketing Automation Next on the Buy List?

The ability to predict what customers will do, and then use that data to drive campaigns is obviously a potential service, and if SDL had a marketing automation platform to go along with it, the company could become the top CXM contender.

However, marketing automation is simply a world moving too fast today, Lancaster said, and it’s not something the company is really talking about getting into acquisition wise. He pointed to SDL’s partnerships with companies like Engaged Sciences for things like digital marketing, and said the smaller marketing companies were really innovating in that space.

You can’t have all the components of a CXM journey, Lancaster said, because there are so many parts. SDL is drawing the line at marketing automation, at least for now. We’re impressed with what the company has done as far as integrating its CXM suite, and we’re looking forward to the fully combined strength of the SM2 and Tridion integration.

We’re also looking forward to how SDL’s competitors react, and of course, its customers.

Image courtesy of Toria (Shutterstock)