The Enterprise 2.0 conference is ramping up for Santa Clara next week and Social CRM is one of the core themes for the event. Why, you ask, is Social CRM being discussed at an event on enterprise collaboration? Because you can't have a conversation about Enterprise (internal) collaboration without discussing external collaboration.

“CRM is the only science of business that attempts to reproduce an art of life -- human interactions and relationships,” says Paul Greenberg, author of CRM at the Speed of Light, and keynote speaker at upcoming Enterprise 2.0 (E20) Santa Clara conference.

Greenberg captures what many companies are feeling right now. Companies are slowly trying to make sense of the rug that was pulled out from under them. Their customers have “gone social” -- the offline world is moving online.

Social CRM and Enterprise 2.0

At first glance you might not think there was a place for “Social CRM” at E20, an internal collaboration conference, but in looking at the speaker faculty featuring Paul Greenberg, Esteban Kolsky and Mark Tamis, don’t expect what you saw last year.

Greenberg’s keynote is titled “E20 & SCRM Converge: Customers & Employees Together at Last” where he will talk about how the social customer has been dramatically transformed by a communications revolution.

There hasn’t been enough noise around the fact that companies must be ready for Social CRM. Meaning it has to start from inside. Companies are not becoming internally versed in social before rolling it out to customers. It’s harder than it looks. And many companies are slapping social programs up against the wall and surprised when they don’t stick

Greenberg’s presentation will address “the increasing sophistication of the [social] tools, and the increasing stridency of customer demand.” This translates to a clear need for E20 and SCRM to “begin to comingle.”

Greenberg told me in a podcast interview that E20 will address how “customers have changed—a lot.” (Listen to the full interview on BlogTalk Radio). To help companies avoid the old fable of the emperor with no clothes there is a focus on how employees are actually using social tools so they can better understand how to serve the external community -- behind the firewall.

The question on everyone’s mind today is how do companies properly engage external communities --pull in key audiences and information, and create a mutually symbiotic relationship between company and customer.

Questions that are top of mind for companies include engaging the customer to contribute to a knowledge base, use of this collaborative knowledge and providing value back to the customer.

Companies are now more prone to the fact that customers can be partners -- not an identical process to what is going on inside. Internally you can choose to be entirely transparent -- but they are not interested in letting everyone outside the firm about the same thing.

The Different Flavors of Social CRM

Greenberg will moderate a panel called “The Different Flavors of Social CRM” featuring Sameer Patel, Partner, Sovos Group and blogger for, Mark Tamis, Associate Social CRM and Social Business Strategist for Net-7, Vincent Canobbio, Senior Manager of WW Sales Operations for Merced Systems and Spencer Mains, CTO, B to D Group, Landor Associates.

The panel will address different facets of using social concepts to engage and collaborate with customers and other constituencies inside and outside the organization.

The Social CRM Vendor Landscape

In our interview Greenberg mentioned some of the larger vendors that are investing in conferences like E20. Participating in conferences like E20 shows a reflection of the vendor’s overall strategic direction. According to Greenberg not “paper thin” reflection but a “deep cultural reflection.”

Whether it is E20, the upcoming Dreamforce conference or Oracle Open World from last month, according to Greenberg -- who frequents these events -- the core is the cloud. And each vendor has their own flavor of the cloud.

The competition is steep in the social business space, and while the big companies -- the SAPs and Oracles of the world have big funds, “they have to get it.” What does that mean? According to Greenberg it means they need to respond best to the social customer with an understanding of their own market.

The good news is there is room for big and small players. The ones that understand they can’t provide everything will be successful. And it won’t be the CRM guy versus the social guy-or the small guy versus the big guy

While Social CRM is a focus this year at E20 Santa Clara, the more legacy topics will still be included. The four tracks include: business tools and technology, community development and management, HR collaboration strategies and Social CRM.

Please find me at the conference to contribute to the follow up story. See you there!

The Enterprise 2.0 conference will take place November 8-11 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.