Tuesday, January 10, 2012

New Trends in CRM Software, 2012

Customer Relationship Management or CRM have been the buzzwords in the business world for some time now. The last twenty years have seen the concept grow, evolve and radically change the way business is conducted. The idea has been dynamic and had to mature and catch on in the current age of Information. Every product goes through various stages like inception, growth, maturity; and every stage requires a different strategy to manage it. What starts today as a novel concept, advances and gets upgraded over time. The newer versions hit the market and slowly the old becomes obsolete. So what is an absolute necessity is innovation.

Product life-cycle management (or PLCM) is the succession of strategies used by business management as a product goes through its life-cycle. The conditions in which a product is sold (advertising, saturation) changes over time and must be managed as it moves through its succession of stages - Wikipedia.

CRM solutions have also witnessed these changes and it has been constantly evolving. A discussion about what the future can behold is very intriguing. A broad classification can be-
  • Overcoming the existing limitations
  • Integrating technological advancements
Existing CRM limitationsCRM as a concept has proven its utility over time. However, in the current form there are certain factors which need consideration.

Customization - CRM solutions started off as a general concept. The idea has been promising, but what has also changed alongside is, the way businesses and economies have evolved. In today’s business world, information is the key and moreover that information needs to be customized. So what companies will increasingly look forward to is specification. Every organization is different and so are the strategies that need to be implemented. Going forward, personalized or company specific software are sure to be more in demand rather than standardized software solutions. This shall enable the user to focus on the details primarily important to him rather than getting generalized reports.

Scalability - Large organizations/ multi-nationals spend millions per year on CRM solutions. The concept of Cloud CRM though economical, is yet to find its place with such organizations as they prefer On-premise CRM to Cloud. The volume of data handled by these organizations is huge, so, scalability of the software needs consideration. Also integration with core systems tend to break when the size of data increases and processes are complex.

Security - Large corporations are not very comfortable hosting data with a third party provider and prefer licensing the software. This of course has high cost implications. Balancing the cost dimension with the requirements is what the future CRM solutions might look into.

Technological Advancements in CRM, 2012The most exciting feature of technology is how it co-relates and fuses with other technologies and produces results which weren’t really fathomed before. Certain areas which are rapidly forming way for new age CRM are:

Social CRM - A fast evolving concept which is growing by the day is Social CRM, also known as Collaborative CRM. The idea is to understand the client completely and engage the client in the process to provide an overall satisfying experience. The importance of Social CRM can be gauged from the growth in social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Linked-in where the growth in the number of users has been phenomenal. It is here that the social customer expresses his interests, enquires, makes his deals and gives feedback. It is fast becoming a process companies need to integrate into their systems for analyzing the future trends.

Voice-enabled software - Consider this, the recently launched iPhone 4S comes with your personal assistant - Siri. Siri can follow your voice commands and you can talk to it the way you would talk to a person. Though currently launched under Beta label, which admits to possible enhancements in future; the concept is certainly new age and a pointer towards future. Well iPhone 4s isn’t exactly a CRM tool, but it gives a direction to what future CRM software can encompass. As users get more exposed to such speech oriented technologies, the interactive capabilities shall grow manifold and the usage for CRM solutions then can multiply exponentially.

Real-time, anywhere - As the concept of CRM developed; companies have made heavy investments into the product. However, they are now increasingly looking at maximizing the return on their investments in a dynamically changing business scenario. Real time CRM analytics is already gaining prominence and is set to further revolutionize the way business is conducted. Responding to client’s request or enquiry in real time and maintaining the credibility and integrity of the decision making process is what will become of prime importance. What cannot be compromised alongside is the high level of personalization of information which will be sought. As the users get savvier and more demanding; efficiency, effectiveness, reliability, customization and speed of decision making will need a much higher level of integration. Also this information is made avaialble using tablets, mobile phones, sms, email, voice etc.

CRM solutions are so intrinsically embedded in the core concept of businesses, that the only way for it is forward. As environments change, technologies advance, users, providers and markets mature, the demands shall grow further and the need for innovation will be higher. Companies shall look forward to unlocking the potential and adding further dimensions to this ever-evolving concept, thereby scaling new heights.