gartner_logo_2010.jpg Just when you thought 2010 predictions were finished, Gartner (news, site) comes out with more. This time it’s the top five customer relationship management (CRM) predictions that have produced some surprising insights, not least that while Facebook will be the top social network globally, in places like Russia, Japan, India and China it won’t. And the problem is language.

The Gartner predictions, developed from two pieces of research carried out by Gartner before Christmas, and in anticipation of the Gartner CRM summit in the UK next month and LA in June, show’s that CRM is going to be one of the top purchasing priorities for CIO’s in 2010 despite contracting budgets.

For most organizations, the single most logical way to differentiate the business is through great customer experiences, rather than having the lowest cost or most innovative products and services,” said Ed Thompson, vice president and Gartner analyst.

And the way to do that is developing a clear understanding of what the customer wants from a company's website, a case of the public must get what the public wants, Thompson says. So what are Gartner’s predictions?

1. Facebook's Global Position

By the end of the year Facebook (news, site) will be the principal social network in all but 25 countries across the globe. However, there will be significant gaps in its coverage that will be based on language issues, particularly in countries like Brazil, Russia, India, China and Japan.

In September 2009, Facebook had 300 million members with a predicted membership of 600 million by the end this year -- including inactive accounts and multiple account users -- based on growth patterns in 2009.

The result is that marketing and customer relationship management will have to change from working across a number of social networking sites to three or four sites that will cover the main languages.

2. Marketing Investment Will Remain Flat

Despite better prospects for the year ahead, Gartner is predicting that spend on marketing software will remain flat and that companies will also be looking for better return on IT investment.

Because management will be actively looking at internal investments and ROI, marketing departments and organizations will need to automate much operational process and use technology to measure areas that were previously unmeasured.

The result is that marketing optimization, with more results for fewer investments will become normal and marketing resource management will become part of strategic planning and collaboration.

3. Social Applications And Market Development

The majority of growth in social applications (80%) will have as their primary goal improving customer relationships for increased market share, rather than internal communication and collaboration.

Companies will continue to find it hard to make a business case for social media activities throughout the year, particularly as there will be no hard metrics or provable business outcomes to justify generic social applications.

However, Gartner says that its research has shown that social projects with defined and clear purposes do show measurable results and those vendors that move from general social applications to specific purpose applications will enjoy double and even triple-digit growth over the year.

4. Online Marketing Boom

By the end of next year more than 90% of Fortune 1000 marketing campaigns will have online marketing elements, up from 50% in 2009.

Online marketing will be particularly attractive to these companies because they will be able to assess directly what is working and what is not working in a given campaign. By using precise metrics, companies will be able to save up to 20% on marketing communications with companies also investing in responsive advertisements and contextual marketing.

5. Online Marketing Slashing Costs

Finally, Gartner predicts that by investing in online marketing, companies will save themselves up to 20% of the costs of marketing communications, with more assessable results from communications that they do invest in.

The result will be more streamlined campaigns with more thorough, online testing of campaigns before official launches.

If you’re in the UK next month and interested in finding out more about the summit check out Gartner’s European website. If not, the summit will also take place in LA at the end of June.