Sramana Mitra: Well, there was one [analytics company] that I liked a lot but they seem to have gone out of business; it was a company called Lucidera. Did you see that?
Mark Egan: I am not familiar with them.
SM: That was a few years ago, and it was a very good team actually. I haven’t tracked why they went out of business, but they were attempting to do analytics in the clouds. But you are saying that most analytics work is happening in a client’s private cloud.
ME: Yes, most of it is the private cloud. I think one of the difficulties is that analytics are unique to a business. So, to offer it as a more general-purpose offering, I think is a tougher thing to solve. If you go back to maybe a more straightforward function like HR, it is fairly standardized across different companies and industries, whereas analytics I would probably put at the other extreme.
SM: Yes, sure. Absolutely! Just to finish up the conversation on CRM, there is a substantial trend right now building up in the domain of social CRM. What is happening in your organization, in VMware, in that domain and what are you doing to address it?
ME: It’s huge! I think it is really exciting area for us, and I think, for the industry as well. We have a community. I don’t know if you ever visited our Web presence, but we have very active community, say around million users in that area.
SM: What platform do you use to support that?
ME: It is a third-party package, I think it is Jive. I am pretty sure it is Jive that we use.
SM: Jive and Lithium are some of the vendors in that space. So, Jive would make sense.
ME: Yes, we use Jive and we get great feedback. Our customers are able to collaborate, exchange information, and so forth. It’s really an exciting way that you can kind of channel all the great ideas that your customers give you as well as they share among themselves. So, I think it is important for us here at VMware and again in the IT areas to put that kind of technology in place so that our customer can leverage it.
SM: And organizationally, who manages that forum? Is it your customer support organization or is it your marketing organization?
ME: It is our marketing group.
SM: So you haven’t yet started integrating these kinds of social CRM functionalities with the customer support system?
ME: I know there is chat, and I know that there are some other capabilities they have as well with regards to finding answers. I don’t know that the following is quite as large as the one we set up in marketing, but it is also something that the support group has been doing. Also, they have been looking more at formats such as videos as opposed to text-based help. So, they have videos out there, I think it is YouTube videos if you want to find out more about products or services or have questions. They are embracing some of these newer technologies as well.
SM: We have a very interesting company in One Million by One Million that is doing crowdsourced customer support; they’re called CrowdEgineering. They are tying forum products into the customer support system and actually resolving trouble tickets through that process. Thereby they are introducing a level-zero customer support system in front of the regular level one, level two, and level three customer support systems using crowdsourcing.
ME: That’s great.
SM: It is a cool approach to using the using the crowd.
ME: Absolutely! I can’t speak to details as to whether we are doing anything similar, but I do know that we are using some of the tools. But I will have to look at that, and I think it is a great idea.
SM: Yes, it is a really brilliant way to resolve stuff that customers know a lot about, right?