CRM (Customer Relationship Management) is a mature global market currently estimated at $20.4 billion annually (USD), with forecasted growth at 13.7% CAGR. Currently 41% of all CRM systems are sold as SaaS-based systems. North American accounts for 52.9% of the worldwide CRM market with Western Europe being the fastest growing market with a 15.2% increase in 2013. The CRM industry is continuing to experience double digit growth year-over-year as organisations focus on delivering great customer experiences using CRM data and tools.

Medium sized companies, often referred to as mid-market, are the fastest growing base of CRM users as they are in the biggest growth phases and looking to establish their winning recipe for success. Large organisations and enterprises have been strong supporters of the effectiveness of CRM for years and now smaller companies looking to compete in a global marketplace are leveraging the power of CRM. Certain industries are recognising strong ROI with their CRM solution including manufacturing, wholesale distribution, financial services, public sector, healthcare, hospitality & leisure, retail, and professional services.

Organisations in the industries listed above demand solutions to help Sales, Marketing, Customer Service, and Support teams deliver great customer experiences at every touch point. CRM solutions provide capabilities each of these groups can use in their daily routine: Sales can manage leads and opportunities, Marketing can manage campaigns and responses, Customer Service can manage returns and claims, and Support can manage tickets and requests. Integration between front-office CRM and back-office ERP is very important in the industries above, enabled through powerful middleware solutions that can sync data and deliver a complete, holistic view of customer relationships.

The requirement of a mobile CRM solution is standard across the industries above and is especially critical among field sales reps. Social Media Integration is growing in importance among Sales and Marketing groups that are engaging with prospects and customers directly across platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. The ability to access CRM through popular email clients like Microsoft Outlook and Gmail is attractive to team members who spend most of their data in their inbox and prefer to work in that environment.

CRM brings structure and definition to processes across a variety of departments including Marketing, Sales, Service, and Support and serves a central hub of customer information. The motivations for acquiring CRM can be departmental requirements (for example a Sales team may require a defined sales process and opportunity tracking for reporting) or can be part of a company-wide strategy to more effectively manage customer relationships across each touch point.

Future trends

Mobile CRM, social media integration, Enterprise application integration and business analytics are currently the biggest trends in the future for CRM. Mobile devices are quickly outpacing computers as the main device of choice and the fact is that most business professionals do a big portion of their daily work on smartphones, tablets, and mobile devices. The ability to access CRM data and functionality on a mobile device empowers the entire organisation with CRM no matter where they are in the world.

Social media is a major component of modern marketing strategies, but how do you take unstructured social media content and turn it into defined tasks, leads, opportunities, and traceable conversations? Social media capabilities within CRM and direct integrations to popular social platforms is quickly becoming a way to establish a competitive advantage with greater reach to your customers.

Integration between CRM and other business enterprise applications is also an important trend as organisations seek to unify systems together into a cohesive system. Back-office ERP solutions manage a wealth of customer information that can be synchronized with front-office CRM to deliver for total customer relationship visibility across the organisation. Analytics solutions that help analyse performance and help anticipate what’s next are imperative for strategic decision making. When analytics, reports and dashboards are part of CRM solution then the data can become tangible, provide true insight, and guide decision making at every level.

Social CRM

Conversations have shifted from phone call and emails to tweets and posts. Conversations with customers, prospects and partners can occur across a variety of technologies and platforms. Social media platforms, including Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, and becoming ever-important channels of one-to-one and group conversations and communications with customers.

The ability to take an unstructured tweet and turn it into a defined task or opportunity changes the game for Sales and Marketing professionals who want to make real connections with real people and leverage that effort and information to establish real world objects, like a new lead or marketing touch.

Social networks are a great complement to CRM. Conversations typically do not happen directly in CRM, but the CRM solution can track those conversations as they affect the total customer relationship. If you can leverage the information from Social Networks inside of CRM then it brings real value to those discussions and allows the organisation to actually do something with it.

Mobile CRM

Mobile CRM is a requirement for most sales professionals, as well as others that are not tethered to their desk. Mobile CRM delivers core functionality to manage leads, accounts, contacts, opportunities, tasks, tickets and more through the mobile device, delivering a similar experience as the desktop version of CRM. This extends CRM globally, out in the field, without losing a step.

Cloudy CRM

Cloud offers the same benefits to the CRM market as it does to many other industries: low-cost, fast setup, easy maintenance, and predictable costs. The best providers offer multiple deployment offerings including on-premise, web, mobile-only, hybrid as well as cloud. This allows the customer to choose the optimal system and deployment method for their organisation, market and industry.

Cloud will continue to be a larger portion of total CRM sales in the coming years as more and more organisations select that model for their IT solutions. There will also be an increase in hybrid environments as organisations with special security and regulatory requirements establish a mix of cloud and on-premise environments when sensitive data is involved.


By Paul Carreiro, Executive VP for Infor in Europe. 

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