Best of CRM: January 12th

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Every week, we recount some of the best buzz around CRM and data integration. We’ll review our favorite articles and share the most pressing findings or key takeaways from each.

Microsoft Parature Buy: Think Self-Service CRM
By: Doug Henschen (@DHenschen)
Last week Microsoft announced its purchase of Parature, a company that offers web- and mobile-access knowledge-bases, live chat, survey and feedback systems, and social monitoring and response functionality. The purchase marks Microsoft’s public acknowledgement of the need to offer greater self-service and cross-channel functionality to strengthen its Dynamics CRM suite. Microsoft’s Bill Patterson explained that “with Parature, we’ll integrate multiple channels, such as social, email, Web-based chat, and Web self-service.” As part of its quest to offer the most complete CRM solution, Microsoft will need to integrate offerings from this latest purchase with those from its earlier MarketingPilot and Yammer acquisitions.

7 CRM Trends for 2014
By: Drew Robb (@robbdrew)
This piece on 2014 CRM trends calls out seven significant trends for 2014 from Drew’s interviews with industry experts. These trends include increasing momentum for mobile and social CRM, allowing employees to address customer needs and collaborate with their teams in real time on the go. 2014 will also see a blurring of lines between customer service and social marketing, as companies integrate social CRM more deeply into their strategies. Moreover, the coming year will bring the need for smarter CRM systems thanks to a deluge of data. We will also see greater CRM integration with other business solutions to tie ROI back to the system and greater contact center tie in because “customers want more personalized and proactive service regardless of channel — which is being talked about more than is actually being delivered,” according to Mariann McDonagh, CMO of inContact. Lastly, this year usability and adoption will play a key role in the decision-making process, because if sales reps aren’t using a CRM system, the line of business manager can easily switch SaaS systems to something more appropriate for their team.

CRM Confusion: The Double Definition of CRM
By: Will Slade (@WillSlade)
Will Slade explains the different definitions of CRM, including the standard definition as the ability to track leads, prospects, customers, opportunities, sales, marketing, and customer service, and the newer comprehensive definition of CRM as a platform. The platform definition, or xRM, includes much more than sales functionality, with inclusions such as Outlook integration, Skype integration, mobility, social media monitoring, easy analytics and dashboards, intuitive user experiences, collaboration and automated workflows. While most of the large CRM players offer xRM functionality, other systems that include CRM as an add-on often miss the mark, so businesses must be careful to compare their needs to a solution’s specific offerings when selecting a CRM system. Will closes the piece with the following advice: “Anyone who has seen a complete CRM solution like Dynamics CRM or one of its competitors understands that a real CRM/xRM solution is in another class from a CRM add-on to a legacy system that’s vertical-specific. If an association executive is looking for modern features, they should take care when selecting a new AMS system with merely a CRM add-on.”

Is There a Missing Zero in the CRM Equation?
By: Paul Greenberg, Clint Oram (@pgreenbe, @sugarclint)
In this guest post on ZDNet, Clint Oram takes readers through his view of CRM technology as something that is for the individual user, but with a meaning that goes far beyond that premise. At its heart, CRM is a software concept used by customer-facing individuals to acquire and support customer relationships. And when you compare that definition with the overall CRM market of roughly 30 million users, the gap between market penetration and potential becomes very clear. The reason for this gap, Clint hypothesizes, is the fact that CRM was designed pre-internet to benefit managers rather than front-line users, since the manager held the decision-making power back then. Clint then compares these design principles with something like LinkedIn, which offers “pretty much zero learning curve, and the value to using the system is apparent – users get more out of the system then they put in. Data is free flowing, easily shared, and available anywhere.” By designing CRM with principles more akin to LinkedIn, the market can grow exponentially by catering to individuals actually using the systems rather than behind the scenes line of business managers.

Predicting the Future of CRM in 2014 and Beyond
Alan Earls
Alan shares CRM predictions from top analysts in this first article of a two-part series. For starters, Dimension Data’s Andrew McNair predicts that in 2014 we will see three specific trends: restive customers who are dissatisfied with their customer experiences, higher staff turnover as contact centers continue moving to new communications platforms, and new common modes of interaction such as live web chatting. Gartner’s Ian Finley believes that 2014 will include more retail experiments with location-based mobile apps, while Real Story Group’s Apoorv Durga predicts both a rise in the convergence and integration of marketing automation with CRM, and the growth of social media monitoring in conjunction with CRM. According to Altimeter Group’s Charlene Li, we will see more movement around privacy and permissions, as she notes that “users are willing to sacrifice some privacy — sharing their personal data, for example — for a purpose or goal. But that doesn’t mean they expect the data to be used for other purposes.” Lastly, Harvest Solutions’ Jay Rivard predicts greater integration with Gmail and data-cleansing tools, as well as deeper integration of workflow automation.


We hope you had a great week! We’ll see you again soon with a roundup of all the movers and shakers in CRM and data integration news.

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