Victoria Ransom’s post on AdAge today paints a beautiful picture of how brands could speak with their most loyal customers. It’s one which I have also touted, and which is a compelling future for CRM. Unfortunately, it is far from reality.

Two issues present themselves:

First, privacy. It is possible – and even likely, based on today’s attitudes – that people will agree to give up some privacy in exchange for more relevant communications. However, no one has yet figured out what aspects people are willing to trade off. Will you give up your zip code? Your phone number? Your name? Address? Email address? Number of children?  The privacy line has shifted over the years – I recall well a time when many consumers were outraged at being asked to give up their zip code, which is now less of a hurdle – but it is still a line no matter how fuzzy. It will need to creep back a bit more before we can create the vision Victoria espouses.

Second, technology. Brands simply do not have the technology to build a social data system of record that will integrate with all the other legacy systems we already have in place. And it certainly isn’t high on their list of thing to invest in next, primarily because there are so many other cracks and gaps to fill in. Companies that have been around longer than 15 years are typically at the point where their systems start to be held together with chewing gum and baling wire. The quick-fixes and hacks to make things work start piling up after a while. Adding yet another database isn’t going to endear the technology folks to social media anytime soon.

We will eventually have programs which approach individual relevance. Some brands are already testing these waters. But we won’t be building systems to support this area of big data anytime soon. There are huge hurdles to overcome before we do that.