I'm at Microsoft Convergence in Barcelona. I'm also in the middle of compiling a report on multichannel marketing.

Both of these endeavours leave me bemused as to why I haven't heard people using the phrase 'the year of CRM'.

Perhaps it just doesn't have the ring to it that 'year of mobile' always did. Perhaps it's because a lot of the CRM action is occuring in enterprise B2B and isn't as sexy as above-the-line brand campaigns.

Anyway, the point is that CRM, a very traditional concept, through cloud and mobile, is a sophisticated and rapidly growing market. The market in 2013 was valued at $20.4bn by Gartner.

This growth isn't set to change pace, with Econsultancy's Marketing Budgets 2014 report showing CRM to be the technology most earmarked for investment this year (see chart below).

Microsoft Dynamics itself lays claim to 41 quarters of double digit growth, 4.4m users and 80% year-on-year net seat growth.

It has just announced increased 'omnichannel' functionality and seems to be coming up on the rails in a top five of CRM providers who are all making hay - Salesforce especially.

So, I thought I'd round up some reasons for this rise in CRM.

In which types of digital marketing technology will you be increasing investment in 2014?

investment in tech 

1. A new set of customer expectations

The customer expects relevance.

Engagement can be personal and contextual. If it isn't this can cost the customer time.

Providing a degree of relevance can only be achieved if you are confident of a customer's journey and current position in the sales cycle.

The customer is prepared to pay more for a better experience.

CRM isn't just about increasing sales or improving customer service. If it can help to improve the value of the experience, it can increase the value of your proposition.

The customer wants transparency.

Increasingly, a customer wants to view information pertaining to their product or service. From e-receipts to full-on customer dashboards

Technology helps facilitate human connections - young people are entirely digital.

Audiences for many companies are fairly broad, with a range of demographics engaging in different ways. This is changing however, as younger generations become entirely digital, and even laggards are at home on their smartphone and using live chat online.

2. Mobile has dramatically changed data

With so many mobile devices making for greater interaction across lots of marketing channels, there is simply more data. This data is also more revealing when it comes to improving service, given that many organisations are still ironing out wrinkles in their mobile experiences.

3. Business leaders work closer with I.T. leaders

Siloed data is now recognised as a fundamental barrier to innovation. Increasingly, CMOs and CIOs are working closely with marketing, sales and I.T. to end siloed org structures and data sets.

There are over 70 job roles represented at Microsoft Convergence, indicating how broadely CRM touches business processes. As more organisations are changing to improve their performance in light of digital, CRM becomes more important.

Business leaders and I.T. leaders are closer than ever.

leaders

4. International markets

Globalisation, better fulfillment, marketplaces, PPC allowing quick access to new markets, international pricing strategies. All these and more dictate a collaborative approach to international and cross-border sales.

Having a CRM that enables each team to access product data and customer data is essential.

5. Security and the cloud

41% of CRM systems sold in 2013 were SaaS based according to Gartner.

Despite the NSA scare, or indeed because of it, many are more comfortable than they used to be with the security of cloud SaaS services. Private and public cloud services allow for flexibility and the knowledge (in the wake of NSA) that almost everything is penetrable may conversely lead to more security in the cloud, as print-outs and laptops with hard drives full of data are less frequently left behind.

Of course, many companies, particularly in financial services, will still favour on-premise software, but the wind has definitely changed.

6. Working habits

Of course, the major benefit of the cloud and single sign-on on mobile devices is the increase in productivity through flexible working. The CRM that can be updated and referred to on the move and from home is naturally going to become a more engrained business tool, less an albatross for sales people, more a constant reference point and action setter.

A home that could be being worked from.

home

7. Automation and machine learning is here

Even at a basic email trigger level of automation, your CRM must be in order.

Being able to cross-sell and upsell effectively is something that machine learning is helping with (alongside comms segmentation), allowing a customer's behaviour to be recognised, cross checked against all previous interactions with similar customers, and used to recommend further products and services.

This has made a big difference in retail for a long time, but it's set to continue across industries. Eventually, machine learning for content curation will be more common and built into the CRM.

Ben Davis

Published 4 November, 2014 by Ben Davis @ Econsultancy

Ben Davis is Editor at Econsultancy. He lives in Manchester, England. You can contact him at ben.davis@econsultancy.com, follow at @herrhuld or connect via LinkedIn.

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Didi

I absolutely agree with the author that CRM and marketing automation are huge right now. It's no longer a matter of having competitive advantage, as much as it is about keeping up with competition. Uncertain how to start? have a look here: http://in2.so/1GGTt2w

over 3 years ago

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