The Top CRM Trends for 2013: Trends in Context

by Christian Wettre on January 18, 2013

How to Plan for Your Business in an Era of Digital Disruption and Customer Engagement

This month, William Band, one of Forrester’s top analysts, wrote an interesting blog post covering top CRM trends for 2013 based on his experiences and research. We thought we’d take a look at  some trends Band forecasted, and add some notes of our own.  Many of his comments are directed at large enterprise customers but they have relevance to small and mid-size businesses as well.   Here are notable highlights from the article.

Enterprises Must Navigate Digital Disruption.”

Band writes “The only source of competitive advantage is the one that can survive technology-fueled digital disruption.”

Our comments: He could not be more correct. One of the most compelling needs that we see in the organizations we serve is managing customer relationships all in one platform while quickly interacting with and taking advantage of a myriad of diverse tools coming to market. Customers want options—they want to take advantage of the latest technology—but they need baseline tools to organize their data and avoid further data ‘silofication’. Our experience with SugarCRM leaves us feeling that Open Source solutions provide this customer management platform while incorporating the value of specialized web tools flexibly and quickly.

SugarCRM has not only built in connectors to popular tools such as GoToMeeting, WebEx, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google Docs, but SugarCRM has also invested in this methodology so that customers and partners can quickly add new tools as markets change.   SugarExchange and SugarForge are excellent markets and are both great forums to access when you want to see which new tools have been made available.

“Companies will Transform Into Experience-Driven Organizations.“

Our comments: Companies need to provide their customers with new channels of communication that matches the tools those customers use.  If you are a consumer or individual focused organization, then make sure you allow your customer to interact with you meaningfully on Facebook and LinkedIn.  If you are focused on a business-to-business market, you will need look at providing portal technology for organizing collaborations with your business customers and employees.

“Untamed Processes will get More Attention.

Our comments: More organizations will move from isolated business process management (BPM) and/or front-office CRM projects toward cross-functional transformation initiatives in an effort to tame the invisible processes that are critical to great customer experience.

This has, traditionally, been a weak spot for sales organizations. While CRM solutions such as SugarCRM, SalesForce, and Dynamics CRM have very strong sets of tools now capable of managing all processes, in the past, customers have been slow to utilize them in their CRM deployments. 

We feel that this is changing and that the demand for workflow tools is coming directly from our customers (where there was previously a fairly limited appreciation for the power of this tool set).   When we demonstrate SugarCRM, we focus on this proficiency as a core capability—even in our baseline SugarCRM Professional Edition.

“Social Customer Engagement Will Move Into the Mainstream.”

Our comments: The key to adding value to the social customer engagement is to be clear about your objectives.  Listening, talking, energizing, supporting and embracing your customers is vital when you want to create customer centered products and improve processes.

Social conversation is no longer the sole domain of the marketing department. Both sales and customer service should be engaged in social conversations, and bringing those conversations into the CRM platform is a way to achieve departmental participation.

Many CRM platforms are currently in their initial versions of such integrations.  We expect to see very significant changes this upcoming year with social conversation tools as the major platforms have made significant investments in order to catch up to speed with social advancements.   The big development in 2013 for SugarCRM will be the introduction of SugarCRM 7 at the mid-year point.  With SugarCRM 7, SugarCRM will introduce a second generation of these social tools.

“Mobile Applications Will Empower Consumers and Employees.

Our comments: If your email marketing platform supports the browser tracking, you will have seen that almost half of your marketing email messages and calls to action are being read on a mobile phone or tablet.  It is clear that this is where your audience of customers and employees are accessing your content.   CRM vendors are a little further ahead in mobile than in social and are providing robust mobile tools, but they are still behind customers’ needs in this fast moving market of customer expectation.

2013 will see brand new mobile platforms from SugarCRM as we continue to attempt to satisfy this market.

“Marketing Tech Will Drive customer Engagement Innovation and Analytics.”

Our comments:  The most powerful tools introduced in the CRM market during the last couple of years were clearly focused on organizing marketing communications.  With the power of marketing platforms such as Pardot, Act-on and Hubspot, new systematic insight about customers is available to marketers.  With this marketing technology, email marketing, content marketing, SEO, social media engagement and webinar marketing can be brought into one analytical platform for a full picture of customer engagement.

We’d love to hear your opinions of CRM trends for 2013. Write us back and let us know what you think.

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