CRM will be at the heart of digital initiatives for years to come – Gartner

Organisations are leveraging customer relationship management (CRM) technologies as a major part of their digital initiatives to enhance the customer experience, according to Gartner.

The analyst firm said that demand for modern technology customer relationships is driving refreshed or expanded integration and usage of all areas of CRM software.

The outlook continues to be positive for CRM as buyers focus on technologies that enable more-targeted customer interactions in multichannel environments.

"CRM will be at the heart of digital initiatives in coming years. This is one technology area that will definitely get funding as digital business is crucial to remaining competitive," said Joanne Correia, research vice president at Gartner.

Gartner expects CRM market growth to stay moderate in 2014 following three strong years of investment. CRM software revenue is forecast to reach $23.9 million in 2014, with cloud revenue accounting for 49%. SaaS or cloud-based CRM deployments currently represent more than 40% of all CRM deployments, and look set to reach 50% during 2015, Gartner said.

"Unsurprisingly, high-tech, banking, insurance, securities, telecommunications, pharmaceutical, consumer goods, IT manufacturing and IT services vertical industries will continue to be the largest spenders on CRM as they have the widest use of different types of CRM applications and technologies," said Ed Thompson, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner.

“All these industries are also increasing investment in emerging economies, further driving spend."

Customer support and service (CSS) has IT leaders, vice presidents and directors of customer service involved in customer relationship initiatives and are looking at the targeted use of big data analytics, peer-to-peer communities and the evolving customer engagement centre (CEC), which is the next generation of the customer service contact centre, for critical processes and technologies.

A central focus of the CSS organisation is on how to engineer consistent, differentiated, cross-channel customer experiences, while supporting the need for increased use of customer self-service.

E-commerce is top of mind for CEOs, CMOs and senior executives as they seek the ability to improve overall customer experience, profitability and sales.

At the same time, marketing technology is a hot area for IT investment, but solution decisions are increasingly being driven by CMOs and the marketing organisation, with little to no IT involvement.

According to Gartner, CIOs will need to work more closely with CMOs and marketing leaders to adapt to the increasing technology demands emanating across the marketing organisation. Mounting pressure on CMOs to drive growth, improve accountability and reduce costs is pushing marketing organisations to make significant marketing technology investments across a broad set of applications and functionality.

The main drivers behind the hot topics in CRM — cloud, social, mobile and big data — are being joined by a fifth driver: the Internet of Things, where sensors connecting things to the internet create new services previously not thought of, Gartner claimed.

"These drivers are spurring a critical need for more traditional operational CRM as CRM continues to top software investment priorities. This further validates businesses' focus on enhancing customer experience and consistent investment in CRM software, especially in CSS, marketing and sales software," said Correia.

Alan Dobie

Alan Dobie is assistant editor at Vitesse Media Plc. He has over 17 years of experience in the publishing industry and has held a number of senior writing, editing and sub-editing roles. Prior to his current...

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