5 Trends That Will Change CRM

I was recently asked to join a group of experts to contribute thoughts on trends driving the evolution of CRM over the next five years. I must say, that it’s a group of individuals whom I not only respect, but also am lucky enough to know in the real world.

– Ray Wang, Principal Analyst & CEO at Constellation Research
– Brent Leary, Owner at CRM Essentials
– Esteban Kolsky, Principal & Founder at ThinkJar LLC
– Denis Pombriant, CEO at Beagle Research Group, LLC
– Paul Greenberg, Owner at The 56 Group, LLC

SoftwareAdvice‘s Lauren Carlson led the discussion under the banner of CRM’s Next 5 in 5. I’ve included some of the highlights here to give you a glimpse of what each expert is tracking. Of course, take a moment to read the full post for a deeper perspective…

Ray Wang: In the next five years, we will see tremendous growth in context services and the data they provide. A key source of this context data will be from mobile devices. Context services are subscription services that help add context during engagement. For example location, relationship, roles, business process, and other sensing technologies.

Esteban Kolsky: We still don’t have the analytical tools to make sure we can deliver value in the instances described. We need to build the infrastructure to make sure there is value in the technology. Analytics and Cloud are leading the charge there.

Paul Greenberg: We’ll see more technologies like SAP HANA, Hadoop and other in-memory and distributed technologies deliver radically faster information processing capabilities. Real-time customer intelligence will become a reality. Technologies around unified communications will be not only hot, but game changers.

Denis Pombriant: Virtual interaction increases the need for enhanced content management systems, as well as spur demand for video production tools that lightly-trained people can use to create animations and conventional “talking head” broadcasts. We will also probably see CRM systems evolve to track these virtual interactions.

Brent Leary: Near Field Communication and the impact it will have on person-to-person and machine-to-machine information exchange will have a big impact on CRM in the not too distant future. I’d also throw in connecting the TV to the mix of screens companies will use to create better customer experiences When people are at home with access to a big screen, they will want to leverage that for their interactions and rich content experiences. Companies that begin developing engagement strategies with this in mind should be in line to see some competitive advantage in terms of customer engagement.

While only some of thoughts made the cut, I didn’t want to lose the other ideas that were swirling in my mind as a result of this exercise. I needed a place where I could park the other important trends I’m following…

1. In 2012 and continuing into 2013, I believe businesses will start to explore new dynamics of CRM beginning with the Customer Influence Factor (I.F.). Services such as Klout, PeerIndex, and Kred are by default creating a social customer hierarchy that introduces influence beyond marketing, to now include service and sales professionals.

2. The second trend is the development of CRM systems that integrate I.F. data into the mix. This will help the front line prioritize engagement, personalize engagement, while providing a more comprehensive view of the social customer and their needs and expectations.

3. Naturally this introduces complications and new parameters in how businesses engage and develop relationships with customers. This will by default necessitate the development of new rules of engagement and supporting metrics to convert leads, solve customer issues, and improve experiences.

4. Next, we will see gamification extend beyond marketing to improve loyalty through integrated social rewards programs, social graph data, and a more community-focused effort on expanding the company’s reach through influence and advocacy programs.

5. Finally, the convergence of marketing, service, sales, and business intelligence will set the stage for businesses to build a more holistic front and experience through traditional web, social and mobile networks. Integration signals not only technology frameworks and connected systems and processes for collaboration, but more importantly, a mission, purpose, and charter to meet and exceed customer needs and expectations.

Where do you see CRM headed?

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Brian Solis is a digital analyst, anthropologist, and also a futurist. In his work at Altimeter Group, Solis studies the effects of disruptive technology on business and society. More so, he humanizes technology’s causal effect to help people see people differently and understand what to do about it. He is an award-winning author and avid keynote speaker who is globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders in digital transformation and innovation.

Brian has authored several best-selling books including What’s the Future of Business (WTF), Engage! and The End of Business as Usual. His blog, BrianSolis.com, is ranked as a leading resource for insights into the future of business, new technology and marketing.

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