8 CRM Trends You Need to Watch

Customer relationship management vendors and industry analysts discuss which CRM trends will continue to gain strength and what new trends IT professionals need to watch.

By Jennifer Lonoff Schiff
Thu, February 02, 2012

CIO — Last year, the two hot customer relationship management trends to watch— and adopt — were social CRM and mobile CRM. To find out whether they will continue to dominate the CRM landscape and what other trends organizations should pay attention to, CIO.com talked to leading CRM solution vendors and analysts. In the process, we came up with eight CRM trends to watch—and implement— in 2012.

1. Cloud-based CRM Services Will Continue to Gain Traction

"Old CRM was people inside the company talking about [customers]," says Peter Coffee, vice president and head of Platform Research at Salesforce.com. Increasingly, however, "the information that's most important in a CRM system originates outside [company] walls, in conversations on social networks and in other external sources." Cloud-based applications are ideally suited to capturing this information and turning it into actionable intelligence, Coffee says. It no longer makes sense "to continue investing in on-premise infrastructure whose job is to go out into the cloud and scoop up intelligence when cloud-based [software] can do that better as well as more cost effectively," he says.

2. It's All About the Interface

"Application usability is becoming a more important issue within the enterprise, and CRM is no exception," says Mitch Lieberman, vice president, market strategy for Sword Ciboodle, a global provider of customer engagement solutions. "Users are picky about their workspace, now more than ever represented by the screen in front of them," which could be a laptop computer, an iPad, or a smart phone. In addition, users don't want to have to remember keystroke combinations such as alt-tab to make things work. "Data needs to be available through one UI [user interface], in context," he says. So the CRM software you use (or choose) should be accessible and comprehensible on both a traditional and mobile platform - with a customizable, user-friendly interface.

3. CRM Will Be the Place to Pull It All Together

As the number of ways in which companies interact with customers continues to grow, CRM systems will play a bigger role in building quality relationships, says Pamela O'Hara, president of Batchbook, a social CRM solution provider. "Businesses that use CRM effectively will benefit from pulling all the loose strings together in one place and developing a stronger bond with each customer," O'Hara says. Furthermore, by centralizing customer data, she argues, "companies will be able to provide better service and more targeted offers to customers."

4. CRM Integrates With Other Critical Business Systems


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