There are several major trends in CRM shaping up for 2013, including some new variations on old themes. Here are some of the top trends for the coming year, according to experts interviewed by Enterprise Apps Today.
Customer Focus Gets C-level Boost
A focus on the customer is nothing new. For some years now, some vendors have been promising a heretofore elusive 360-degree view into the customer base. Jeremy Cox, principal CRM analyst for Ovum, believes the time may finally have come.
“The mythical 360 degree view, second only to the unicorn in its rarity, will reappear,” said Cox. “Only this time it will manifest itself for real as a byproduct of the C-level focus on customer experience management (CEM). This management fixation on the customer experience is very understandable given the growing power of customers, a global soapbox on which to remonstrate if unhappy and spread the bad word amongst millions of other socially networked consumers, and margin-eroding commoditization.”
What is different about this "new" 360-degree view, he added, is that management has finally realized there is no single system, CRM or otherwise, which can deliver it in isolation. This is also shaping the way that major software vendors are building up their arsenal of enterprise applications. Many offer an integrated applications portfolio including CRM supported by real-time analytics -- dispatched to the point of need in a more intuitive and usable format than we have seen in the past. This increasing democratization of business intelligence puts context-sensitive information in the hands of anyone who needs to serve the customer, and potentially on any device.
'Interconnected' Business Intelligence
Business intelligence is being rolled into more and more customer-facing applications, Cox pointed out.
“What we will see more of in 2013, irrespective of industry or sector, will be the increasing use of interconnected BI, driven by the need to triangulate on the customer’s reality,” he said. “My own view is that getting the customer experience right means firms are already on the path to a far more profound and interconnected world.”
Ultimately, he added, if organizations wish to remain relevant to their customers they must be able to sense and adapt to changes in the customer’s world before their competitors. CRM and CEM will play an important part in this, but successful firms will be completely connected from front to back office and from the customer all the way back to their suppliers and partners. This capability is the fulfillment of a mature and holistic CRM strategy, Cox said.
“The customer-adaptive enterprise is focused on continuous innovation in value creation and delivery, which goes beyond CEM and really does require a 360-degree view, not just of the customer’s contacts but their context and the forces swirling around that shape it,” he said. “We will see more evidence of this in 2013.”
BYOD Accelerates Mobile CRM
Bring your own device (BYOD) has been a trend to watch for quite some time. But most experts agree it will become even more prevalent this year.
“Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies will accelerate mobile CRM deployments, advance front/back-office integration and drive sales growth,” said Dan Wilzoch, senior vice president and general manager, Sage CRM Solutions. “Bandwidth is ubiquitous, CRM apps (with standards like HTML5) are available free or at low cost for multiple device deployments, and continued BYOD policy adoption will rapidly help mobile CRM successes surge.”
Sales Manager Empowerment
Expansion rates of many sales teams are slowing if not contracting -- so the focus is on maximizing the effectiveness of what you've got, which makes the role of the sales manager even more important. Managers must be able to coach and support the reps that need help and maximize the efficiency of the team.
“A big trend we are seeing is to empower the sales manager, which supports the overall drivers of companies to do more with less,” said Giles House, vice president, Marketing Communications and Products, CallidusCloud.
Yet organizations that rely on ad-hoc one-to-one meetings, with little follow-up or data support, likely won't see a significant effect on improving rep performance. A second area of headache is pricing and quoting of deals. By providing sales teams with a price configuration and quote tool that is tied into the central CRM system, reps will be able to produce accurate quotes in seconds.
Importance of Integrating Mobile CRM
The rise of mobility has generated a whole new series of problems in terms of integration. Wilzoch said the prevalence of CRM and contact management systems on smartphones and tablets certainly can speed the sales cycle and potentially improve average sales per customer. But the race to deploy has caused challenges in terms of mobile CRM apps being out of synch or not integrated with central CRM systems.
“Look at all critical front- and back-office processes when considering mobility. Many accounting, inventory, sales cycle, payment and customer support functions can be fulfilled with data securely accessed via mobile devices,” Wilzoch said. “Anchoring a mobile initiative with a system-of-record process like sales opportunity management or field-based customer support (CRM) and invoicing (ERP) can help get a program up and running. For many businesses just a handful of new mobile-influenced sales can quickly cover any setup costs.”
Drew Robb is a freelance writer specializing in technology and engineering. Currently living in California, he is originally from Scotland, where he received a degree in geology and geography from the University of Strathclyde. He is the author of Server Disk Management in a Windows Environment (CRC Press).