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5 Reasons Customer Relationship Management Is Still Hot

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Customer relationship management (CRM) technologies may not be making headlines — but they haven’t gone away. In fact, according to Gartner, demand for CRM is growing. To provide integrated customer experiences, businesses are focusing on technologies that enable targeted customer interactions in multichannel environments. 

CRM Growth

The findings appear in a new report Market Trends: CRM Digital Initiatives Focus on Sales, Marketing, Support and E-Commerce. In it, Gartner notes that it expects CRM spending to remain steady after three years of substantial investment driven by five established and emerging areas of technology. Those areas include:

  • Social
  • Mobile
  • Big Data
  • Cloud
  • Internet of Things

Gartner estimates investment in CRM will reach $23.9 billion this year, with cloud-based technologies accounting for 49 percent of that. Currently, software as a service (SaaS) or cloud-based CRM deployments  represent more than 40 percent of all CRM deployments, and are likely to reach 50 percent in 2015 as more and more enterprises look for agile technologies to respond to business challenges.

"Unsurprisingly, high-tech, banking, insurance, securities, telecommunications, pharmaceutical, consumer goods, IT manufacturing and IT services vertical industries will continue to be the largest spenders on CRM as they have the widest use of different types of CRM applications and technologies," said Ed Thompson, vice president at Gartner.

It is also notable, Gartner states, that all these industries are increasing their investment in emerging economies, which will drive growth even further as new and developing enterprises cut costs by moving directly to the cloud rather than investing in on-premises systems.

CRM Needs

But what exactly are enterprises doing with these technologies? According to Gartner, workers that are dealing directly with customers are looking for a combination of all, or some of those technologies.

Customer support and services (CSS) in conjunction with IT managers, are looking at the targeted use of big data analytics, peer-to-peer communities, and emerging customer engagement centres - - the next generation of customer service contact centres - - for critical processes and technologies.

The principal focus of CSS now, Gartner says,  is the creation of differentiated cross-channel customer experience while at the same time, developing new capabilities for customer self-service.

E-commerce is also a growth area in the CRM space. Last month, we saw in our mini-series on the disconnect between e-commerce and content management,  that CEO’s and Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) are looking at many different ways of improving customer experience, especially in online retail stores.

Marketing technologies are also hot properties with IT investments there being driven largely by CMOs and the marketing organization with little involvement from IT.

The problems created by a lack of communication between marketing and IT departments has been well covered in the past, but according to Gartner, with the ongoing development of CRM, Chief Information Officers (CIOs) and CMOs  will have to start working together to get the best out of emerging technologies.

CMOs are under increasing pressure to achieve business growth, cut costs and improve transparency, which is pushing them to invest in marketing technologies across the board. With IT involvement, these investments are just about pointless. 

Five Drivers of CRM

1. Social

Marketing departments are being forced to monitor everything that happens across social networks to see what customers are saying about products. The result is that they are currently looking for technologies that can listen and observe literally hundreds of networks, including tweets, Facebook and LinkedIn discussions to monitor enterprise progress and prospect for new business leads and opportunities.

2. Mobile

According to Gartner, smartphones and tablets are facing change quicker than even social networks are,  with more than half the connections to the internet in 2014  expected to be made through smartphones 


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