The User's Perspective: Customer and Contact Management with Semantic MediaWiki
|SMWCon Fall 2013|
|The User's Perspective: Customer and Contact Management with Semantic MediaWiki|
|Description:||Lessons Learnt and Development Perspectives|
|Keywords:||CRM, Customer Relationship Management, Contact Management|
We have been using Semantic MediaWiki for customer and contact management during the past 12 months, continuously testing new ideas and configurations. This talk is about the lessons learnt on our way to a "Semantic CRM". We will look at typical functional requirements that business users have and how we have been trying to fulfill them in Semantic MediaWiki. We will show the potential that the system has as well as the challenges that will have to be overcome.
Before we started to consider Semantic MediaWiki as a "lean" CRM system, we had worked with several commercial and OpenSource CRM systems, from CRM@SAP to Salesforce.com to VTiger CRM. While all these systems have great features for various use cases, we found that Semantic CRM can be a real option for many companies. Several considerations speak in favour of Semantic CRM:
- Technology. We think, Semantic technology will allow use cases in the context of Customer Relationship Management that cannot be easily realized with other technologies, e.g.
- incorporating predictive functionality.
- running semantic analyses of free text content.
- creating complex queries.
- Flexibility. While we found it difficult to incorporate external content and systems with traditional CRM systems, Semantic MediaWiki allows the integration of various types of external content with comparatively little effort.
- Cost. Like other OpenSource systems, Semantic CRM has a clear cost advantage as compared with commercial CRM systems. This is nothing surprising but definitely one of the key decision drivers especially for SMBs.
- Ownership. For us and for many companies with whom we have discussed the idea of a Semantic CRM, the fact that the source code is not owned by a single commercial provider has been named a significant advantage of Semantic CRM.
Our technology clients are typically medium-sized companies across various industries. Most of them have started using Semantic MediaWiki for Quality Management and Documentation. Having seen the advantages of Semantic MediaWiki, they are now considering whether other use cases such as CRM could be realized with Semantic MediaWiki as well. Being companies and professional organizations, our clients want to make sure specific requirements are fulfilled before they use Semantic MediaWiki or any other OpenSource system:
- Support needs to be available at professional standards.
- No proprietary software modules are used; all parts of the solution need to be as close to the generally accepted standard as possible.
- A large community of developers needs to be available - and thereby a large choice of alternative vendors who could potentially take over service and support of the OpenSource software.
Of course, Semantic MediaWiki is not a CRM system and some functionality that is provided by other systems is missing. We have been using semantic:apps, a Semantic MediaWiki adoption by gesinn.it, for several months now and gesinn.it is still incorporating new functionalities on an on-going basis. We are currently using the system mainly for
- Contact Management: Here, we manage organizations, contacts and relationships between contacts, organizations, projects and issues.
- Relationship History: We are using the system to create a 360 degree contact history, including sales calls, technical support requests and any other activities which are directly or indirectly related to a contact, organization, project or issue. Besides that, the system provides, amongst other, a reminder function.
- Project Management: With this module we manage internal projects as well as client projects. The system provides us, amongst other, with automatically generated Gantt Charts, timelines, project lists and time reports.
What is still missing is email integration (Outlook and Thunderbird) as well as an offer/billing module. Therefore, at this stage we do not consider Semantic MediaWiki as a full CRM replacement but rather as a very interesting perspective that has the potential to grow into a serious CRM solution in the future.
This talk will be available on this page via video as the speaker will unfirtunately not be available at SMWCon due to scheduling conflicts.