CRM had a good year in 2011 with its highest revenues in many years. So what does the future hold? EnterpriseAppsToday asked CRM analysts and industry experts for their predictions for the year ahead.
Mobile Access the Norm
It’s hard to ignore the flurry of press releases announcing the latest mobility features for CRM applications. Info-Tech Research Group believes that accessing CRM apps via iPhones, iPads and other devices will become the norm in 2012. “We are evaluating vendors based on their ability to provide a fully-functional, device-independent HTML version and/or full-functional native apps for smartphones and tablets,” said Tim Hickernell, an analyst for Info-Tech. “Users expect ubiquitous access to corporate systems anywhere, anytime on any device.”
Social CRM Goes Mainstream
Along with most other analysts we asked, Hickernell thinks social CRM will go mainstream in the coming year. He said that expanding customer profiles to include Twitter activity, LinkedIn profiles and other social information will become a required capability for sales organizations in 2012. “The ability to add direct customer social interaction to a customer service queue is essential to effect proactive service,” he said. “Vendors that do not satisfy these requirements will have points deducted from their feature scores.”
Getting Their Marketing Game On
In addition to vendors integrating social media into CRM platforms, companies will redouble their efforts to improve the effectiveness of social media marketing, according to Garret Ippolito of CRMtrends.com. This will include gamification, or the integration of game mechanics into marketing activities to drive customer engagement and participation. “Gamification is not a passing fad, it is here to stay,” Ippolito predicted.
Cloud to Curtail CRM Margins
Gartner predicts that by 2015, low-cost cloud services will cannibalize up to 15 percent of top outsourcing players' revenue. This includes CRM. Low-cost IT services are an emerging market force that will alter the pricing equation of delivering enterprise applications. “The projected $1 trillion IT services market is at the beginning of a phase of further disruption, similar to the one the low-cost airlines have brought in the transportation industry,” said Gartner analyst Daryl Plummer.
Focus on Data Quality
Improved data quality and availability will become a major focus in 2012, said Mike Sabin, senior vice president of Sales and Marketing Solutions at Dun & Bradstreet. “We’ll see more interest in data, Data-as-a-Service (DaaS) and Master Data Management technologies to generate more and better single views of the customer – to improve experience throughout the customer lifecycle and make data more available to the CRM as a repository of knowledge,” said Sabin.
Paul Teshima, senior vice president of Product Management, Eloqua, expects to see buyer/contact profiles augmented to include not only "who you are" and "what you are interested in” but also "who do you trust." This is increasingly important because of the rise of social media. “We believe that understanding the many social identities of a buyer or customer will become extremely important this year,” said Teshima. “As CRM systems start incorporating these identities into the standard contact profile, there is an opportunity to also develop a better understanding of the network of people the contact "trusts," which can be leveraged in many areas of a customer lifecycle.”
CRM guru Paul Greenberg foresees the emergence of "insight solutions" that will combine dynamic data drawn from structured and unstructured sources with some predictive intelligence to produce the kind of knowledge that leads to customer insight. He mentioned Coveo, Allegiance, Lattice Engines and Radian6 as examples of vendors providing these kinds of solutions.
David Pennington, director, Product Marketing, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, expects increased convergence between Web, CRM and ERP systems in 2012. “We will be moving beyond monolithic systems and into truly understanding people; streamlining, adapting or eliminating entire business processes and defining a new world of business analytics that includes social/viral (influence) and transactional (business impact) intelligence,” he said.