Beyond Social CRM: Customer Experience Tops 2012 Predictions


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What’s in store for CRM in 2012?

8 CRM Predictions For 2012

As 2012 takes off, it’s time for that fun annual event: predicting how customer relationship management (CRM) — and related disciplines — will evolve over the year. Here are my top eight predictions for what’s in store for CRM in 2012:

1) Growth Becomes Businesses’ Top Focus

Barring the collapse of the euro, revolution in North Korea, or Kim Kardashian coming back on the scene, the macro business story is this: We’re set for an economic rebound, which will allow businesses to switch from cost-saving mode into growth mode, meaning there’s great new potential for boosting the bottom line.

Accordingly, now is the time to begin preparing for customer experience and customer service projects. That’s because the businesses that will be best positioned to capitalize on growth opportunities will be the ones that have built the best customer relationships in their market.

Cue this 2012 business imperative: contact center modernization, including tight social media tie-ins — because today, you can’t do customer service any other way. To handle all of those requirements, we expect to see sharp increases in Service Cloud adoption.

2) Blurring Business Functions

The rapid growth of social CRM has had a notable side effect: it’s blurring the lines between sales, marketing, and service, as companies attempt to open up their touch points with customers. For 2012, expect the same to happen — albeit in ways we probably can’t even imagine — with HR, finance, quality and manufacturing.

That’s because one of the chief concepts behind the creation of a social enterprise is learning how to get content and information to people more effectively. For example, who’s going to know more about solving a tricky technical problem than the engineers in manufacturing? Hence the new business imperative: learn how to connect them with customers. At the same time, also ask related questions: Can we take some of the resulting troubleshooting content and publish it, then use the resulting interest to create new leads? Going forward, can we streamline the customer experience by improving build quality?

3) Cloud-Based BI

Hardcore cloud-based analytics is another trend that’s on the horizon, and which will hit maturity this year. In particular, keep an eye on Cloud9 Analytics, which offers cloud-based forecasting and pipeline management. That’s important, because software such as is operational, meaning that you’re focused on current operations: reviewing the sales pipeline, looking up contacts.

But what if you want to compare the current pipeline with the pipeline from four weeks, 12 weeks, or even two years ago? (Kind of like Facebook’s new timeline feature.) Previously, answering that type of business intelligence (BI) question often took oodles of infrastructure, including building a data warehouse. But with cloud-based analytics software, you’ll be able to much more easily generate time slices, showing you where things stood at any given point in time.

4) Mobility Keeps Moving

This might sound a bit techie, but HTML5 is taking off, and one of the key capabilities it offers is the ability to more easily create cross-platform mobile applications. In other words, expect HTML5 to add even more fuel to the burgeoning mobility movement, including more mobile CRM.

5) Legacy CRM Loses Out

Given the capabilities on offer from cloud-based CRM (including built-in mobility), in 2012, expect many more organizations to ditch their legacy CRM platforms — Siebel, Oracle CRM, Pivotal, SalesLogix. Instead, they’ll be adopting, Oracle CRM On Demand, and Microsoft CRM Dynamics.

6) Facebook Backlash

In other sea changes, on the social CRM front, beware a backlash after Facebook publishes its S-1 as it prepares to go public. When people see how much money Facebook is making, they may decide to opt out of helping to enrich the social network. Although, to borrow from Gartner’s research approach, I’d only put the probability of Facebook fallout at 30% (i.e. not likely, but possible).

7) Voice-Controlled CRM

Call it the Siri effect: If I’m a salesperson, when will I be able to walk out of a meeting and tell my smartphone what the meeting was about? At that point, of course, my smartphone should be able to work with my cloud-based CRM application to automatically generate all of the required activities and follow-ups. In other words, thanks to Apple’s Siri, the bar has been raised. And we’re waiting.

8) Steve Jobs Biopic Storms Oscars

Ending on another Apple and sales-related note,’s vice president of corporate strategy, Bruce Francis, surely has the year’s CRM-related Oscar forecast nailed with his “Death of a Salesman” predictions surrounding the inevitable Steve Jobs biopic. Think Aaron Sorkin, writing a script based on the biography by Walter Issacson, with George Clooney playing Jobs, and Meryl Streep bagging a Best Supporting Actress nomination for her portrayal of Jobs’s sister, Mona Simpson.

As with all of the CRM changes on tap for 2012, stay tuned for more details.

Learn More

With people spending more time than ever on social networks, at least one of your 2012 CRM resolutions should be clear: invest in social CRM to reduce costs, increase efficiency, and improve the customer experience.

Post and thumbnail photos courtesy of Flickr user Darvin Atkeson.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Adam Honig
Adam is the Co-Founder and CEO of Spiro Technologies. He is a recognized thought-leader in sales process and effectiveness, and has previously co-founded three successful technology companies: Innoveer Solutions, C-Bridge, and Open Environment. He is best known for speaking at various conferences including Dreamforce, for pioneering the 'No Jerks' hiring model, and for flying his drone while traveling the world.


  1. I’m intrigued by your voice controlled CRM thoughts. I agree that mobile and smartphone integration is vital especially since more people access sites via their smartphone than any other device – beating out laptops even! Do you see android user taking to the use, too?

  2. Not to get all Star Trek on you, but I think voice CRM is going to be very big. Typing in notes is a clear adoption hurdle for sales reps, and just imagine what it could do for customer service agents. No more “hold on, let me document your case…”

    Android, iOS — I think it will be everywhere.

  3. These were some interesting predictions, but with any predictions it is very useful to go back and revisit them. It’s probably one of the easiest way to detect our own intellectual fallacies.

    It is somewhat of a cheap shot to pick on it in retrospect, the reason I do it is because I think you missed an important point about Facebook.

    Facebook is all about users and users don’t care about how much Facebook is making. They care about seeing what their friends are up to, watching videos of cute cats and killing time.
    So, there was no backlash and I think if there is one, it’s more likely to be about privacy, the kind of backlash Instagram generated recently.

  4. Ouch — reviewing my old predictions posts is cruel!

    I do feel like there is a bit of a backlash against Facebook since their IPO. The IPO itself was a dud, which took some shine off of their product right there.

    Perhaps their user base continues to grow, but the business model for utilizing Facebook as a marketing platform is clearly under attack. And I’m not seeing the excitement in 2013 for people connecting Facebook into their contact centers, SFA prorgams, etc, that I was hearing about in 2012.

    But hey you can’t get them all right.



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