The Future of CRM

A guest post from Ashley Verrill of Software Advice including insight on a topic close to our heart, How ‘Curated Data’ Will Wrangle the Big Data Problem

Recently, I rallied five of the industry’s top thought leaders to devise the second edition of the CRM Next 5 in 5 report by Software Advice, a website that reviews CRM solutions. The report lists five technologies that will change customer relationship management in the next five years.

In the 2012 installment, our group talked a lot about advances in Big Data, Social and Mobile. The same themes were repeated this year, but the specific ways each is applied in the CRM context has evolved. Here’s a summary of this year’s Next 5 in 5:

‘Curated Data’ Will Wrangle the Big Data Problem
Big Data poses to two major problems for business: volume and velocity. There’s so much of it out there, it’s difficult to know when you have something worth using; and by the time you do figure out, the opportunity for
using it has passed.

To tackle these obstacles, our experts foresee more services emerging that curate data from various sources to address specific business problems. This might include data from providers like IP address registries and Dun and Bradstreet, plus social sharing behaviors. This information would then be fed into your CRM with an alert to act at the moment when it matters most.

Crowdsourcing Will Leverage Contacts in New Ways
Many times, companies don’t interact with customers in their database after the sale closes, unless that contact needs support. This is a huge missed opportunity when you consider these same people are likely your best chance at spreading positive word of mouth.

Our experts foresee technology developers releasing new services for leveraging these existing customers for crowdsourced marketing. These products might automatically identify customers with the highest propensity to advocate for your company in social media, then arm them with tools for doing so.

Improving Data Will Monetize Social Media Management
Social media is one of the most important sources of actionable customer data. Analysts can uncover what prospects are talking about, when, and even where. This kind of context can considerably increase channels of finding new leads and closing the deal faster.

Few products today have actually proven success mining for leads via social. The process is more often extremely manual and inefficient. This is primarily due to rapidly evolving open social API’s. Because they are changing so quickly, the data is often imperfect and unreliable. As a result, developers focus most of their energy compensating for these bugs instead of empowering technology to generate revenue. This will change as the APIs improve.

Voice-Enabled Technology Will Truly Mobilize CRM
More and more business is conducted on smartphones and tablets these days, yet few CRM apps have really capitalized on the unique capabilities of these devices – namely voice. Apple was one of the first to use voice-enabled mobile navigation with Siri; but as any user will tell you, she doesn’t understand everything and her suggestions are never perfect. As a result, users don’t fully trust voice-enabled apps–yet.

This will change over time as Natural Language Understanding (NLU) technology improves. NLU determines the intent and context behind spoken words. Our experts expect mobile CRM developers to hop on board as soon as they are confident these apps won’t annoy the user.

Predictive Analytics Will Automate Personalized Marketing
Personalized marketing is one of the curated data service niches our experts see the biggest opportunity. This means combining CRM data with online behaviors to automatically cater marketing and sales to a specific person. Think of it as the next step in Amazon’s suggested titles, or Hulu’s “what to watch next,” both of which are based on what buyers and TV watchers like you have also liked and watched.

This personalization will extend to other avenues such as onsite navigation – you might be served offers, content and live chats based on what has moved other site visitors like you further down the sales funnel, faster.

You can read the full 2013 report here. What other technology advancements do you see evolving how we use

CRMs today? Chime into the conversation here.

The following five analysts contributed to this research:
• Beagle Research Group CEO Denis Pombriant
• CRM Essentials Owner Brent Leary
• ThinkJar Principal and Founder Esteban Kolsky
• Initium LLC / Innovantage Founder and CEO Brian Vellmure
• 56 Group LLC Owner Paul Greenberg

Thumbnail image created by Daniel Voyager.

About Ashley Verrill
Ashley Verrill is a market analyst at Software Advice. She has spent the last six years reporting and writing business news and strategy features. Her work has appeared in myriad publications including Inc., Upstart Business Journal, the Austin Business Journal and the North Bay Business Journal. Before joining Software Advice in 2012, she worked in sales management and advertising. She is a University of Texas graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.


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