The answer to the question posed in the title is a resounding YES in my opinion. Yet, at the same time a CRM purchase is an essential contributor toward building a trend that vendors and buyers take note of and the cycle takes off from here.
The prime driver of a sale is necessity and if the market and business conditions create a wholesale demand then in the process of fulfilling those demands trends are spawned. For example, the advent of SaaS has seen CRM companies eagerly jumping on the SaaS bandwagon; this is because they see the SaaS model as a solution for the CRM issues of capital-strapped SMBs who for long have desired CRM but could not afford proprietary software. This has given birth to a slew of on-demand CRM vendors who are propagating a trend that came to life because of a keen need felt by the SMBs. And of course, the trend has influenced many businesses to go for their own on-demand CRM solutions.
CRM trends throw up buzzwords, some old some new. It’s instructive to look at the buzzwords that are floated every year and maybe chart a trend of these buzzwords not unlike the cloud of tags on blogs, to find the trends that are going strong and which are the ones that are losing steam. Often a trend is an indicator of and an accompaniment to an evolution in the concept of CRM. The evolution could be in terms of market dynamics or technology.
The SMB market has for some years been a focal point of the CRM sector and the trend shows little sign of slowing down. In fact, SMB players are now maturing and offering industry-specific solutions. Small banks, pharma companies, and insurance firms are usually amongst the early adopters of vertical-specific solutions; yet another example of how a trend and a purchase decision go hand-in-hand. The past couple of years have been those of consolidation with the big players going on an acquisition spree. This doubtless is a temporary phenomenon which nevertheless influenced the buying decisions of several businesses.
The growing interest of CRM vendors in mobile CRM seems to point to a trend for the future where connectivity is going to be a necessity for the generation that perhaps right now is in school. CRM vendors are getting ready from now itself for those future days of ubiquitous connectivity.
Thus, CRM trends in tools, technologies, metrics, and skill sets are thrown up continually. Some are industry-specific and some have a broader base. Some are transient and some carry a greater impact than the others. Yet all of them are food for thought for a business that wishes to either deploy a CRM or move from one CRM platform to another.