Monday, February 27, 2012

CRM in 2012: The expert predictions


CRM guru Paul Greenberg tells about his predictions for the world of customer relationship management in the coming year. 

Author of the best-selling book CRM at the Speed of Light, and the first non-vendor thought leader to be elected to CRM magazine’s CRM Hall of Fame, Paul Greenberg is one of the most influential figures in the CRM industry. President of The 56 Group, LLC, a founding partner of BPT Partners, and Chairman of the Board of Advisors of the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management CRM Centre of Excellence, Greenberg has worked with and developed strategies for all the major vendors in CRM. Here he shares his predictions for the year ahead in the world of customer relationship management.

1. There will be a growing focus on the customer experience

“We’re going to see a continued/expanded focus on the pure core CRM side around customer experience. The right brain will continue to become more and more dominating in terms of the thinking that is going on in the CRM industry - and I don’t just mean vendor-side, I mean practitioner-side. More attention will be paid to customer experience than in the past (though in the past it should have had more attention paid to it!) and that is a big deal.
“On the other hand I will say as a caveat it doesn’t mean that all of a sudden there is some big customer experience management software market - there isn’t and there won’t be. What you will see, though, is more companies focusing on how to provide the customers with a self-created, self-selecting kind of customer experience with the company. So the tools will become an increasingly important component of what practitioners are providing to customers over the coming year.”

2. A new category of insight solutions will emerge

“We’re going to see a growth of a category that is built around customer insight - not just analytics, but insight - so that it would involve multiple pieces of the solution. These are the insight solutions that would be more on the technology side - companies like Coveo or Lattice Engines who are developing applications that you can’t simply categorise, as we have in the past. I’m calling them 'insight solutions' because ultimately they lead to insights about your customer, insight about your sales opportunity or insight about your solution to a problem; but they're insight, not just a best practice or something like that. You gain some useful insight and these technologies give you the capacity to gather what you need to actually have that insight. And in 2012 we’ll start to see the emergence of these in a substantial way, as opposed to fits and starts and bits and pieces that we have seen so far.”

3. Marketing automation and social marketing tools will continue to grow

“We’re going to see the continued growth of marketing automation and social marketing tools. We’re going to see more and more companies get more and more interested in utilising social marketing as a kind of core marketing strategy and consequently the vendors will jump on board more than they have. And we’ve seen some signs of that already with Oracle incorporating marketing from Market2Lead to Oracle CRM On Demand.
“We’ll see companies like the Crowd Factorys of the world start to emerge on an even greater scale. We’ll see existing practitioner companies start to incorporate collaboration with customers as part of the marketing campaign, so that you’ll have user generated content as part of it. You’ll see gamification growing a great deal over that time (and I don’t mean buzzword-y gamification; I mean simply things that make engagement with the company more mutually enjoyable and rewarding for the customer) but you’ll see more and more of that as a practice, even in companies who have been historically traditional in their marketing.
“And what you always see with that is the software that supports it. And that is why you’ll see marketing automation growing a great deal, especially around the social component of it - and that is a very important trend because social CRM is now pretty mainstream but marketing has been the underserved component of it. Sales has been the weakest component of it, marketing has been the most underserved and customer service has been the driver of social CRM. “

4. Social CRM will continue to become CRM

“From the standpoint of social CRM and strategies for social CRM, in 2012 there will be at least a significant linear growth of social CRM actually being CRM for companies, meaning that social components will be incorporated fully into strategies around CRM, that companies are building and programmes that they’re building. You are starting to see that kind of thing happening already, where social CRM is just what people think CRM is now. So when they are building a CRM strategy they are not only building a strategy for data capture and transactional stuff but they are also building a strategy for engagement through social channels, either externally like Facebook and Twitter or internally like service communities.
“So we’re going to start to see that, which leads to significant growth in communities as being part of that social CRM strategy. Communities might be the largest growing component. I’d guess that it will be between communities and social marketing which will be the largest growing component of social CRM in 2012. I don’t’ think we’re going to see as rapid a growth on the sales side, although I think the interest in sales collaboration is beginning to emerge.”

5. Voice and video will become popular tools for engagement

“We’re going to see increasing use of video and voice in 2012 for engagement reasons. Video, for obvious reasons, has been discussed and over discussed. Voice is not just because of, say, Siri, but that is an indicator of exactly what the story is too. People love that app. They really do. And they not only love that app but they actually are trying to find uses for that app. But the other side is that other companies like Amazon and the like are buying voice recognition companies right now, with Siri-like technologies. So I think we’ll see a lot of the voice control stuff being used for engagement reasons so that you’ll be able to actually carry out a lot of the functionality on mobile devices and others that you ordinarily would have to typically touch type your way through. And again the value of these things is engagement. It is not just pure coolness, there is actual engagement going on - it makes your device easier to use.
“And there are a number of companies that are incorporating in that. IBM has bought something, Amazon has bought something, five or six companies have been buying up these voice control technologies so that they can incorporate them into their regular business activities. And so we’ll see the beginnings of that technology, and it is one of those technologies that will sky rocket over the next few years - and from a CRM standpoint will help and support and endorse engagement. And that is always mission-critical too.”