Not only is CRM the heart and soul of digital initiatives for years to come, it tops the list of leading tech trends in 2014.
More than ever, companies are leveraging CRM technologies such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Salesforce.com CRM. Gartner said, “The demand for modern technology and customer relationships is driving refreshed or expanded integration and usage of all areas of CRM software. The outlook continues to be positive for CRM as buyers focus on technologies that enable more-targeted customer interactions in multi-channel environments.”
Hot areas for CRM investment include: mobility, social media and technologies, web analytics and e-commerce. Also on the list is marketing technology. This isn’t being necessarily driven by IT, but by the CMOs with little to no IT involvement. This is due to the mounting pressure experienced by the CMOs to drive growth, improve accountability and reduce costs which is pushing marketing organizations to make significant marketing technology investments across a broad set of applications and functionality.
According to Gartner, the main drivers that spur the critical need for CRM as well as CRM maintenance and support include:
- Social: In the sales, marketing and customer service departments, marketing is being forced to monitor, communicate and engage in social commerce business with several hundred public social networks. Customer service has to respond to tweets as well as Facebook and LinkedIn discussions, as new service channels and sales are now using social media as a source of new leads and intelligence on prospects.
- Mobile: Smartphones, tablets and mobile apps are forcing change at an even faster rate than social networks. Connections to the Internet via smartphones will exceed PC users by the end of 2014 and smartphones have already overtaken PCs as the most common tool for accessing social networks in most countries. Bring your own device (BYOD) policies are springing up around the globe as IT departments are forced to support a proliferation of devices. It is tablets, however, that are causing the most disruption as sales departments and board directors purchase them and then demand support.
- Big Data: The marketing department has been most impacted by the explosion in customer information available to businesses during the past five years. Predictive analytic models for churn analysis, product and service recommendations direct to the customer, and/or sales prompts for salespeople are all becoming more sophisticated. Thus, the data is available and the tools are emerging, but the problem is the lack of skills and resources to use the tools.
- Cloud: This driver is a decade old now in CRM, having started back in the late 1990s with the rise of application service providers. In many ways, the low-hanging fruit for cloud adoption has already been picked. The remaining areas of CRM application functionality will be ever harder to adopt in a cloud delivery model, so the switch to cloud will steadily slow.
- Internet of Things: As cars, buildings, bodies and chairs are connected to the internet and as the price of sensors and communications drops down toward $1. The automotive, construction, healthcare and hospitality industries, among many others, will be transformed. At the forefront of this shift will be sales, marketing and customer service departments in promoting, selling and supporting the new services.