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Relayware Partner Relationship Management

SugarCon 2012 and Social PRM

Posted on April 30, 2012 by Mike Morgan

The Relayware team have returned from SugarCon 2012 in San Francisco after our first year of sponsoring the event. It was attended by around a thousand SugarCRM customers, partners and developers and spanned three days. It’s a unique blend of keynotes, break-outs, social events and hands-on sessions for the many Sugar developers to build on the product’s success in a way that only open source allows. We’re delighted to be a SugarCRM partner and to have Relayware PRM selected as Sugar’s own PRM system to underpin their global partner program.

We enjoyed some great keynote presentations from some excellent and well-known speakers including Paul Greenberg and Guy Kawasaki. Recurrent themes were, of course the continuing evolution of Social CRM and the ever-growing importance of mobile for CRM. These are of course equally relevant for Partner Relationship Management (PRM) and social and mobile extensions to Relayware’s capabilities feature heavily in our roadmap.

While discussing what “social” and “mobile” mean for PRM with some of the leading independent analysts at the event, the word “collaboration” came up frequently. Of course collaboration features in the generally accepted definition of social CRM from Paul Greenberg himself:

“Social CRM is a philosophy and a business strategy, supported by a technology platform, business rules, workflow, processes and social characteristics, designed to engage the customer in a collaborative conversation in order to provide mutually beneficial value in a trusted and transparent business environment. It’s the company’s response to the customer’s ownership of the conversation.”

Collaboration is and always has been a feature of PRM. Any PRM solution must enable vendors and partners to collaborate in the truest sense; not only in conversation – this is a given but in the often complex business processes that are necessitated by an indirect sales and service model. Chatter, Jive, Yammer et al offer companies an “enterprise social network” or “social intranet” to enable employees to collaborate and communicate. Partners are extensions to most manufacturers enterprises – an extended sales force, an extended marketing team, an extended customer services operation often numbering tens or hundreds of thousands of people globally.

Social PRM offers these vast numbers of individuals an “ecosystem social network” or “social extranet” solution that links vendors and partners and enables them to collaborate in many of the same activities that any company would expect to engage in with their own workforce. Historically, these activities have been supported by tools presented on a partner extranet or partner portal. These portals are still essential repositories of rich content and will, I’m sure endure the communication revolution that social media has brought about. But solutions like Relayware are driving innovation in the field of PRM to provide businesses with tools to facilitate multi-channel partner communication strategies that go far beyond the partner portal and incorporate a broad range of social and mobile capabilities to enable vendors to communicate and collaborate with their partners via the medium of the partner’s choice.

Social CRM continues to evolve but it has been clearly defined. The interactions we had at SugarCon and other key CRM events this year reaffirmed what we already knew; “Social PRM” as a strategy and a technology is not yet clearly defined, but Relayware is at the forefront of defining it. Over the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing news about our exciting Spring and Summer 2012 product launches and new features in this blog. We’ll be adding a broad range of social and mobile capabilities to Relayware driven both by the expressed needs of our customers and our vision for the future of partner ecosystem collaboration technology.