Social CRM off to a Strong Start 2012 Could Prove Favorable for Capital Investments and Growth in the Social Sphere

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Investors are recognizing the growing clout of the social conversation with enterprises, propagating several investments in social enterprise applications at the beginning of the year.

Lithium Technologies banked $53.4 million from New Enterprise Associates as well as SAP Ventures and various other sources to fuel product development, engineering, and heightened service delivery for existing customers.

Rob Tarkoff, Lithium president and CEO, called the investment a testament to social CRM's staying power. "Brands will continue to go social in an even bigger way in 2012 and beyond," he said in a statement.

"I'm very excited about social media in general because ... now we're in the phase of early majority, the 'How do I actually do this as a business?'" stage, says Natalie Petouhoff, social media executive education program director at the UCLA Anderson School of Business. "We're starting to see the conversation around, 'What's the business value? How do I apply this? What's the ROI?' because these [companies] are very structured."

Almost simultaneously, social relationship startup Nimble stepped up its game with $1 million in seed money from Google Ventures and angel investors, including Dharmesh Shah, Don Dodge, Jason Calacanis, and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. In a statement, Cuban referred to Nimble as a CRM service that "is one of the best tools any small to medium-sized business that wants to increase sales and productivity can have." Nimble plans to expand upon its social business platform, adding sales and marketing functionalities, and to improve social relationship management and collaboration in an entire company environment.

In August 2011, Gartner forecasted social CRM investments to surpass $1 billion by the end of 2012; how it will be defined remains at the forefront of related thought. …


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