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CRM in 2010: A Year in Review

As 2011 is fast approaching, I wanted to take a look back at how far CRM has come and what we can expect from the CRM industry in the New Year. 2010 was an exciting year for the software industry and CRM more specifically. Businesses have embraced social media and realized the value of social networking as a business strategy.

2010 was a year of innovation, refinement and added social functionality, in the CRM software world. Like Rome, CRM wasn’t built in a day and neither was Social CRM. However, 2010 marked the emergence of social CRM as a legitimate business strategy with measurable results. Twitter has become a customer service and marketing tool for business users, and Facebook has come a long way from the dorm room to the conference room. Customer Service oriented social networks and communities are revolutionizing the Business-Customer relationship and the way information is passed. All-in-all, 2010 was a good year for Social Media and CRM products.

A Few 2010 Product Highlights :

  • added Chatter 2 to their CRM repertoire. Chatter is a collaborative network, free for users, that gives users the ability work efficiently and closely on their own private and secure social network.
  • Oracle launched Fusion CRM that is built with modules that drive better sales performance and management. Oracle’s Fusion CRM is up and running instantly, and has a 100% standards-based architecture to help reduce staffing and implementation costs.
  • SAP 7.0 CRM was released this year as well with updates to ERP order embedding, consumer marketing, customer service modules and more.
  • Pivotal Social CRM was launched this year, giving CRM users the ability to integrate CRM strategies amd Social Media Strategies within one application.
  • Nimble released their small business Social CRM solution with the functionality (not cost) of a high-end CRM system that is packed with collaborative social media tools. Nimble proved that Social CRM was not just for the big dogs, and brought SCRM to the small to midsized market.
  • SugarCRM launched their Open+Partner Program that empowered channel partners with a wider variety of incentive resources to deliver SugarCRM solutions worldwide.
  • And last but not least, 2010 brought forth an onslaught of mobile CRM applications for devices from the iPhone to the iPad. 2010 was a year of facilitated access to CRM software and services for the virtual sales force.

CRM Trends to look forward to in 2011

Social Media as a CRM Outsourcing Tool

As social networking has evolved from phenomena to lifestyle, businesses are jumping on the social media bandwagon as a resource for marketing and CRM strategies. As we enter a new year, analysts have predicted that the social media CRM revolution will catalyze and CRM outsourcers will start to use social media more heavily to interact with and provide support for customers.

CRM is the perfect medium to execute marketing efforts because it is a cost-effective outreach program that is inherently networking-friendly. The coming year will bring forth new developments in CRM third party outsourcing as well as social media as the new mainstream form of communication.

Proliferation of New Industries

The social media webosphere is constantly changing, and flexibility is the only way businesses can stay relevant. As the landscape for social media is ever-evolving, we can look forward to changes in the CRM landscape as well. The New Year will represent an emergence of third-party contact centers in an effort to outsource CRM services.

The outsourcing of CRM services in not a new practice, but it hasn’t been a popular trend thus far. The new industries that are predicted to move toward CRM outsourcing are government, healthcare and utilities industries. At the heart of CRM outsourcing, besides keeping up with new media technologies, is cost-efficiency.

Budget cuts paired with an unstable economy have led industries that are typically resistant to change, like government departments, to adopt new methods of streamlining operations. As recession torn communities will look to their central and local governments for answers and for initiatives and plans for the future, government officials can benefit from an outsourced CRM center to handle redundancies. With third party social media and CRM resources in place, government agencies can reduce operational costs and eliminate costly contact centers.

Healthcare will see an obvious spike in third party CRM outsourcing in 2011 as well. The growth of CRM outsourcing in the healthcare industry can be attributed to Obama’s healthcare reforms. The number of phone calls streaming in from members of the public has increased because of questions about how reforms will affect individuals. As a result, the healthcare industry is yielding to third party outsourcers to manage their increasing call numbers and provide top notch customer service. The healthcare industry can further cut costs by outsourcing CRM efforts to Spanish-speaking countries, since a large volume of calls come from members of the Hispanic community.

The utilities industry will experience growth in CRM outsourcing efforts as a result of new state-of-the-art CRM software implementation. Several utilities companies are switching to easy-to-use CRM software with built-in social media tools, instead of expensive outdated CRM equipment. As utilities businesses experience new product and services expansion, social media tools can be used to interact with customers. With up-to-date CRM software come up-to-date communications tools that can help companies reach a wider audience at a low cost. Utilities companies in the New Year will need to turn to third party sources to tackle the increased volume of customer facing activities.

Implementing a BI tool to supplement CRM Software

The economy has been in a repetitious cycle of chaos and crisis in the last several decades. Businesses have failed for a variety of different reasons overtime. However, most recently, business failure can be directly attributed to poor business management and disorganization. Several of the corporations that failed had minimal visibility over financial transactions and other front and back-facing operations. The lesson we can learn from past failures is that: in order for a business to maximize their success, they must be organized.

Business Intelligence Tools can help combat the seeds of business failure by automating business processes and increasing overall visibility from end-to-end. BI tools can optimize CRM software by turning valuable unstructured information into valuable usable information.  BI tools can drive behavioral change and even help businesses develop a comprehensive CRM strategy.

We can dare to dream, but CRM Software is not a band-aid solution for all customer related problems. An oftentimes overlooked factor in CRM strategies is the process of applying lessons learned from the collection of customer data. CRM Software gives businesses the ability to collect and organize information, while BI tools give businesses the ability to leverage information to improve current relationships and target new customers for enhanced profitability.  BI tools like data mining, decision support and analytics provide decisions makers with the most up-to-date information so that the best decisions can be made with that given information.

Many Businesses have realized the benefits of BI implementation, however they have chosen to do so on a departmental basis rather than across their entire enterprise. Implementing an enterprise-wide BI solution is critical in achieving maximum ROI and making the most of CRM software that is already in place. Implementing a BI solution on a department by department level won’t provide managers with full visibility over all business functions, which is why an enterprise-wide solution is favorable.

Accelerated Mobile CRM growth

The mobile market is expected to continue significant growth in the upcoming year. As smartphones and tablets continue to proliferate, so will the consumerization of the workplace. We can expect iPhone and Android to make valiant attempts at achieving Enterprise-level notoriety like their counterpart, the Blackberry.

Customer Service Revolution

In 2011 we can look forward to a shift in the way customer service operates. Thanks to technological and social progressions, customer service will move toward service communities and web-services versus traditional means. Essentially, CRM is shifting from a sales department driven platform, to sales force automation. In order to succeed at CRM and customer service, users will have to understand how social media and networks work.

Rise of Customer Insight Apps

As discussed earlier, CRM and BI tools will see tremendous growth in the New Year. CRM software is no longer a sufficient means to staying ahead of the curve. As a result of an explosion of data acquired through CRM software, businesses need a BI tool to interpret, analyze and make decisions based on the information given. There is much to be learned by studying customer data and trends. With both Social CRM and BI tools, businesses can optimize opportunities and

[Photo courtesy of bostoncatholicinsider.]