The primary task of CRM systems has always been the same. It is a customer relationship management solution that gives brands a 360-degree view of their customers. Are the system requirements still the same? If the purpose does not change, why should the requirements change? In fact, they are changing dramatically - just like the coming generation and the world around us. What are the four key trends of CRM systems over the last few years?
1. Flexible platform for faster project delivery
One of the most striking differences is the pressure on time. Five years ago, large projects were planned for years, today we are at the level of months, often weeks. How is it possible that delivery today takes less time than the analytical phase from a few years back? The difference is in approach, but mainly in implementation options. It can be compared to building a house. Previously, everything could be built using classic bricks, an agile bricklayer, lots of time and energy. Today time is of the essence, and a skillful bricklayer and energy are expensive. Therefore, building is done differently. It is the same with CRM systems. That's why CRM systems are built today from very sophisticated - prefabricated - blocks. They fit together like a puzzle. The fewer adjustments they require, the better.
2. Deep expertise where it matters
With the increasing complexity of individual elements, blocks and applications, the requirements for expertise are increasing as well. The previously mentioned bricklayer held multiple roles simultaneously, but if you now add smart-home elements (heating control, blackout windows, automated lighting), you can not cope without having a deep understanding of the systems. It's the same in the CRM world. An expert in email marketing systems may not have enough knowledge about how to queue a case in customer service.
3. AI provides smooth and simple interaction
The more complex on the inside, the easier on the outside. It may be illogical, but it is a clear trend (not only applicable to CRM’s). Users want to have everything under their control, they want and need to be able to fully use and set up the system, but they do not want (rather cannot) spend so much time. That's why there is a lot of pressure on artificial intelligence systems (Salesforce Einstein, IBM Watson, Apple Siri, Amazon Alexa, etc.) - they have a 'think up' solution for the user and either do it right away or at least offer it as a variant. Another powerful tool is various intuitive diagrams, process and data visualization. In this area, we’ve seen the we can see the preparation of big players for further development. Salesforce acquired Tableau for $15bn, Microsoft is investing a significant amount on PowerBI, while various data processing partnerships are emerging.
4. Automation enables true 360° customer view
Have you noticed how powerful it is when a customer service agent greets you by using your name?
"Hello Martin, how can I help you?" The days of dictating your phone number, and re-explaining your problem, are long gone. How is it possible? Why didn't it work before? Behind all this is linked information and data flow. Sales systems, products, campaigns, customer service, individual communication, everything must be connected and ideally in one place - the Holy Grail - 360° customer view. Customers no longer want to repeat the information they have provided us once. On the side of CRM systems, this is quite a demanding task, despite all the advanced automated tools, various integration platform and native connectors. The (poor) quality of data corresponds to the number of interconnected systems of different architectures.
Where do all the trends go?
Let's start with a brief recap. What are the current trends showing? We are looking for fast, clever, intuitive tools for different parts of the company, assembled as kits. These tools need to increase growth, sales and communication channels. All parts must be fully connected and share one customer data.
That is why market consolidation is taking place. Small and specialized solutions are becoming part of large platforms. If a company wants to support Facebook Messenger as a communication channel, then it cannot stand independently without being linked to email, SMS and other channels. Communication must be managed by one platform - the customer, marketer or artificial intelligence chooses the appropriate channel for message delivery. The companies are moving from one-way mass communication towards individualized or personalized communication. Communication management is not reactive or incidental, it has to respond to the customer’s needs and expectations throughout their customer journey.
The monster known as Cloud is no longer a scarecrow, but the only way to meet the requirements for rapid implementation and flexibility. It seems that all the big players in the CRM market have already understood this.
CRM market is still somewhat bi-polar. On the one hand, there are cheaper and "simpler" solutions (such as SugarCRM, HubSpot, Zendesk, ZOHO) enriched with a number of other systems to extend the missing functionality. At the other end, there are large, comprehensive platforms from the big players of Salesforce, Microsoft and Adobe.
What about pricing?
Pricing is always important, and the cost structure, the speed of business changes and the pressure for flexibility have changed significantly in recent years. CRM is not considered as a necessary expense, but as an indispensable tool for company growth. Having the same solution at half the price, but half a year later, it not efficient for the company. The cost of individual solutions and maintenance is increasing and, in particular, they are becoming inaccessible - see the analogy with building a house.
With great enthusiasm, I watch "start-ups" of various sizes investing in CRM based on solid foundations right from the start (for example, Salesforce). It makes sense. If they are serious about their business, they cannot afford platform changes as they grow. Processes and models must be continuous.
Finally, what does the market look like?
In terms of investment, CRM solutions dominate over all other corporate IT systems. The CRM market value is estimated at incredible $48bn (source: Gartner ) and the expected growth is over $80bn in 2025. Companies invest more in CRM than in ERP and e- commerce systems combined. From my point of view, this is especially good news for customers. Companies are no longer self-centred, but customers-centric.
Author: Martin Šebela, Delivery Director , Isobar
Published at: www.systemonline.cz