At the beginning of each New Year, I always take some time to reflect on what’s to come. One of my sources of 2013 inspiration came from an industry competition – CRM Idol, started by Paul Greenberg in 2011. The focus on the competition is to discover the most promising new technologies that will influence the CRM market and if past finalists were any indication, CRM Idol is indeed becoming not only a place for great industry collaboration but also for discovering the next companies that will be acquired – like Crowd Factory, a 2011 finalist acquired by Marketo in 2012 or Assistly, now Desk.com, acquired by Salesforce.com
Last June, Kelly Craft, Director of Product and Business Development at Dash Digital Group, in the collaborative section of CRM Idol, posed the question ‘What do you see as the most significant trend to watch in CRM for the next 5 years?’ to contestants and those following the competition. Over 30 people responded. Here are six predictions that stood out for me –
- CEOs will make responsive CRM strategies focused on the customer their top priority in 2013 – This is what Jeremy Cox, Principal Analyst focused on CRM at Ovum: “I think given the constantly accelerating rate of change and disruption endured by all, forward-thinking CEOs will grasp the CRM strategy nettle and realize that they need to make their firms far more adaptive to customers if they are to maintain their relevance and survive, let alone gain a sustainable advantage.“
- The integration of customer data from all data sources will be paramount:
- Alessandra Ceresa, Director of Marketing and Social Network Management, GreenRope: “The most significant trend to watch in CRM is integration of personal data and every possible connection point between a company and its customers. Being able to collect and organize information about email, social media, events, projects, tickets, surveys, website visits, conversions, etc. is the holy grail of CRM – if you can do that, you provide salespeople with the information they need to close deals more effectively.”
- This rings true for Dave Evans, Co-Founder and Vice President of Social Strategy at Lithium: “One word: Integration.” For social businesses to succeed, there needs to be a supportive ecosystem that links the customer data from business-critical apps, like billing, social influence and online-events, to the CRM.
- Expect to see CRM expansion into customer-facing departments: This is the prediction of Jon Ferrara, CEO of Nimble, “The most significant trend to watch for in CRM for the next 5 years will be that CRM will finally move beyond the beachhead of sales and marketing team adoption in businesses to the rest of the customer facing departments. The conversations occurring with a businesses constituency will need to be joined by the entire company. I say constituency because a company’s ecosystem is much more than its prospects and customers. Sales, marketing, customer service, product, accounting and especially the C-level executives will all need to be actively engaged in listening, engaging and collaborating about and with the community that empowers a company to succeed.”
- CRM that predicts customer behavior could be on its way: The team at Sequentia Environics, led by Jen Evans, believes that “the next big trend in CRM is going to be understanding, mapping and aligning to customer digital behavior.” Jen’s team believes that “if you were able to have a complete picture of how a customer was interacting with your company or brand regardless of channel, an accurate record of their activities on an opt-in basis, updated real-time as they connect, communicate, consume content and converse,” you’d be much better able to serve them. Most importantly, she believes this is an achievable feat in the near-term.
My take on the biggest trend in CRM in 2013? I predict growth in hybrid environments. Although customer-facing systems such as CRM are increasingly migrating to the cloud, sensitive financial prospect and customer information, usually housed in ERP systems, will remain for the most on premise. This is why nimble data integration between cloud and on-premise systems will be a key IT trend in 2013.
Here’s to an integration-filled 2013!