CRM is red-hot, Gartner claims. Or, shall we say, green-hot.
Gartner officials said last year customer relationship management (CRM) will be worth $36.5 billion.
"Without a doubt, the CRM industry has never been more exciting than it is now," said Clint Oram, SugarCRM co-founder and CTO. "Companies are driving CRM projects like I have never seen before. All of the major technology shifts of the past ten years, from cloud to mobile to social to big data, have all converged to create today's 'perfect CRM storm.'"
CRM provider SugarCRM celebrated 10 years of CRM this year. CMSWire caught up with Oram about the state of the industry.
Driving the need for new technology, Oram told CMSWire, is a "highly competitive and completely interconnect global economy." This, he said, forces companies to re-evaluate their customer engagement strategies and CRM technology choices.
"All together, demand is booming for intuitive front office apps on a flexible and future-proof platform," Oram added. "It’s definitely a great time for the CRM market and a fantastic time for SugarCRM as we celebrate our 10-year milestone."
Person has a need. Company fulfills the need. It's that simple, really. Well, it looks that simple anyway.
"I have always believed that the purpose of a company, the reason why companies exist at all, is to solve customer’s problems," Oram said. "The practical aspect of this in all scenarios is that a company is always striving to simplify the act of connecting a person with a problem, a customer, with a person with a solution: your employee."
In the CRM world, it's the first person to get their products or services in front of the customer in a helpful manner is most likely to win the deal, Oram added.
Enter social and mobile channels.
"By leveraging advances in collaboration technology across the vast social and mobile channels that now exist," he said, "companies can better position themselves to be first to the customer."
Not to mention cloud computing's impact on CRM, how we can now access applications, information and resources so quickly through a connected, mobile and social workforce.
"Every single company needs to better connect with their customers," Oram said. "This is especially true as customers are more educated and better prepared before they interact with a sales rep. All of these technology innovations have simplified, streamlined and accelerated the communication between companies and customers. This is a good thing."
Oram sees a Darwinian effect of winnowing out companies that are responsive from those that are not.
"Overall, we see better-served customers and stronger, more vibrant and innovative vendors," Oram said. "However, to be first to the customer, companies have to truly invest in their infrastructure."
We used to live in a world of data scarcity. CRM applications then focused more on collecting and presenting data than helping make sense of that data.
Today, Oram said, it's “data overload," and the challenge becomes quickly make sense of that data and turn it into meaningful action.
"Specifically, this is where a big part of our focus will be moving forward: turning big data into little data, taking trends across customer segments and applying those findings to a specific interaction with a customer -- regardless of the communication channel," Oram said.
Successful CRM features companies that align every single individual employee behind the mission of creating and keeping customers, Oram said.
"But," he added, "you also have to give those employees the tools they need to become customer experts in their own rights. Since today’s customers have more choices in the market, the quality of the customer experience will quickly determine the winners and the losers."
Technology can do this, but the streamlining those touch points with customers and extracting every ounce of value in the precious time your customer or prospect will give you should be the goal.
"As a result, those companies that perform best when matching intent with desire, and combine innovation with high value, will win," Oram said.
Oram sees exponential growth in the number of CRM application users as CRM solutions become extremely good at connecting the right employee with the right customer at the right time.