Monday, April 21, 2008

Socialprise in Search of Sales and Marketing: InsideView's Take on Blending Business Information and Social Media

I was a bit nonplused to read an article in ZDNet today about InsideView's newly launched SalesView platform that just didn't seem to "get" what business information services are all about - much less what they are now starting to accomplish within some of the leading sales force automation platforms. Kind of strange, given the power found in the particular application that InsideView has launched.

InsideView has dubbed the mapping of business contact relationships to filtered content from Web harvesting and premium content sources inside collaborative software as "socialprise," a good label that describes how business information is gaining value in key contexts through aggregation and value-add services.

SalesView accomplishes this with content from the Web, from social networking services such as LinkedIn and Facebook and, at premium levels, major subscription databases such as Hoover's, D&B, Jigsaw and Reuters. Similar in general concept to Dow Jones's new Generate acquisition but more oriented towards existing Sales Force Automation platforms, SalesView filters incoming content to determine if it represents actionable triggers in a sales and marketing relationship with existing and potential clients and partners and maps it to relationships harvested from personal networks from both online services and SFA services.

The headline in the ZDNet article asks, "SalesView from InsideView: feature or product?" Apparently they weren't too tied in to how different the mission of most SFA platform providers is compared to most business information providers today. The data that most companies load from their internal databases or third party service into a sales force automation platform is just a starting point for people trying to figure out what they should be concentrating on in their sales, business development and marketing efforts.

Think of SFA contact records as the file cards onto which much be attached the prioritization of these targets and the intelligence that can help people understand who's really ready to move on business today. SFA tools don't provide those kinds of capabilities at all. It takes rich content, filtered through tools that will tell a person who's likely to be in a place where a call would be productive, to tell someone whether it's worth using that contact information in the SFA tool. Yes, from a platform standpoint this may look like a "feature," but if it's a feature that drives the key activities needed to generate revenues, then what's really important, the content "feature" or the software "product"?

SalesView takes a different approach from Generate's G2 platform, focusing more on aggregating a wider potential array of sources and social networks into a number of popular SFA platforms, as opposed to G2's focus on its own standalone application and enterprise API. Both approaches have their advantages, but the SalesView platform is nice in that it offers people hooks into a number of the business information services that they're already probably using to manage business social networks and to acquire information about businesses - all filtered through their sales trigger analysis software.

Generate may have gone down the road further in terms of building its own high-quality company and person information from Web-harvested sources, but SalesView enables people to leverage their own personal networking content very effectively for those who are already making use of social media services, while still being able to leverage intelligence from both online sources and subscription databases very effectively. For those companies that fit this usage profile, it looks to be that SalesView can give them a very cost-effective leg up on integrated real-time business intelligence that can yield greatly enhanced productivity. Sure sounds like a content product to me.
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