Gartner released new data showing that the market enthusiasm surrounding customer relationship management (CRM) software and its burgeoning connection with social media is not unfounded.
In a survey of 2,335 CIOs in 45 countries and across 37 industries, Gartner reveals that CRM made a big leap in CIO mindshare in just one year. CRM climbed to 8th place in 2012 from 18th place last year in its top IT priorities rankings for CIOs.
CRM is also weighing on the minds of CEOs. According to the research group's separate CEO Survey for 2012, CEOs are preparing to spend big over the next five years, having pegged CRM as the most important area of investment in the near term.
CRM software revenue is forecast to reach $12.8 billion this year, a 7 percent increase from the $12 billion the industry booked in 2011, according to Gartner. And cloud services are poised to take up an increasing percentage of that haul.
Last year, software-as-a-service made up 32 percent of the CRM software market. In 2012, CRM SaaS solution market share will grow another 16 percent, Gartner predicts.
The Social CRM Era
Expect CRM to edge closer to social experiences like Facebook and Twitter, says Gartner Vice President Ed Thompson. "In 2012, CRM executives are faced with the challenge of taking 'social' more seriously — not as 'just another channel,' but as a whole new way of doing business," he says.
This is part of an overall shift that embraces several new disciplines, explains Thompson. "Our discussions with service providers and end users indicate that CRM services are shifting from a focus on point solution deployment centered on application suites, to a 'customer experience' that brings together customer information, analytics, workflows, mobility and social CRM disciplines into a richer, multichannel access to capture the entire customer journey.".
This bodes well for social CRM innovators, and Gartner isn't the only one that noticed.
In January, Nimble, a social CRM startup that caters to SMBs, attracted $1 million in seed funding from Mark Cuban, Don Dodge, Jason Calacanis and Dharmesh Shah. Recently, Visible Technologies updated its enterprise social CRM platform and debuted a VI-LITE version of its software for SMBs. And last month, Jive launched its Customer Service Solution with Facebook integration and social media engagement features.
Social CRM providers aren't the only ones to benefit from a growing CRM market. IT job seekers can enjoy the ride too.
Vimal Shyamji, partner and general manager at staffing firm Winter, Wyman, is witnessing fierce demand for CRM developers, particularly during the last several months. His firm's placement rate for CRM developers tripled in the fourth quarter of 2011 versus the same period in 2010. Demand is particularly strong for developers who can integrate Salesforce.com with other enterprise apps.