Professor Rainer Alt and his team at Leipzig University’s Information Systems Institute (IWI) have been working on something known as integrated social CRM for several years now. “We hope to show the students the potential for the Brazilian market of using and developing new services and systems. Our colleagues from the field of business administration will then be able to take up our concepts and adapt them to the local requirements of specific customers and companies. The participating computer science researchers will use their analysis methods from the field of computational intelligence – a branch of artificial intelligence – to extract additional language- and context-specific information from the data,” explains Alt.
It’s argued that the network of previous joint projects, which has existed for several years, has created good conditions for practice-oriented research and for involving companies in the courses. Leipzig University’s partners will establish contact with users and system providers, who will then inform students about needs, challenges and successful solutions in the lectures and also support joint research. “In Brazil, our integrated social CRM concepts are being used and further developed. In Germany, we have the opportunity to conduct research in a very dynamic environment where social media use is very high,” says Olaf Reinhold, who heads the operational side of the partnership at the IWI.
Cooperation began five years ago
This German-Brazilian cooperation began in 2014 with a workshop sponsored by the German Research Foundation (DFG), which aimed at establishing international partnerships. In the following project, from 2015 to 2018 scientists from Leipzig University, together with the partner university in Belém, examined the potential practical applications of computational intelligence in social CRM, before then developing initial content for courses in Leipzig and Belém. They also built up a partner network with more than 30 companies in Brazil, using the resulting consortium to organise a number of smaller workshops as well as a social CRM conference for students, scholars and company representatives.
In recent years, a German-Brazilian research project at the IWI has included examining differences in user expectations and the possible uses of social CRM in the two countries. In Brazil, for example, social media is used much more frequently and actively, with people writing more about companies and their products and also interacting more with companies. An IWI study showed that young Brazilians in particular prefer social media to traditional channels for interacting with companies, although companies have so far been rather slow in responding to this trend. In Germany, on the other hand, users see social media as a supplementary channel and expect seamless integration with other channels and business processes. Unlike in Brazil, German companies have already been successfully using social CRM for several years, and are increasingly turning to professional tools to support analysis and interaction processes.