2009 Predictions for CRM (not mine — Forrester's)
There’s an interesting piece over at SearchCRM with three experts’ predictions for 2009. The first expert — Bill Band of Forrester Research — had an intriguing list of six trends he expects to see in 2009 in CRM suites. The three that really jumped out at me (the bold text is Band’s label, and everything else is my description and observations):
- Trend 1: The emergence of the Social Consumer — okay, sure, you’d have to have had your head buried in a backhoe-assisted hole in the sand to have missed that social media is a big deal. My sister went from telling me a year ago that instant messaging was too intrusive…to being an active user and advocate on Twitter — using it effectively and with success in her role as a manager at a nonprofit. That’s anecdote 1 of 20 that I could rattle off without thinking, and I’m sure you could, too. Web 2.0 is getting steadily adopted by, well, everyone eventually, just like Web 1.0 did. Band’s point, though, is that CRM suites “will be looking to enrich the customer experience through community-based interactions, and architecting solutions that are flexible and foster strong intra-organization and customer collaboration.” That’s an intriguing thought. CRM tie-ins to LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and the like? It’s a recipe for disaster if the capabilities are developed, sold, and put to use with a Web 1.0 mentality. Pulling this sort of thing off effectively is going to require some nuance, both on the part of the CRM suite providers and their customers. Should be interesting.
- Trend 3: The requirement to fully cost-justify CRM investments — Band boils this down to four questions that every business case will have to answer, and he indicates that his contacts are telling him that every CRM investment will need a rock-solid financial case built for it given the economic environment. I wonder. Certainly, I wouldn’t expect anyone to be out spending money frivolously, but, then, I wouldn’t really expect that to be happening in a robust economic environment, either. What I’ve seen happen time and again is that a company gets along with spreadsheets, a seasoned sales force, and relationships that have been built up over years to drive the business. Then, one day, they realize that they need to actually do some marketing and actually put some processes around how they do demand generation and demand management. Someone does a back-of-the-napkin calculation as to just how much money they’re leaving on the table, and it becomes pretty clear that they need to bring in some talent, some process, and some systems to realize that value. For the companies that have already made it over that hurdle, they tend to have the information they need to see where they are falling short and to articulate — even in the absence of guaranteed immediate financial returns — the value of further investment. For companies that have a strong cash position, downturns are a good opportunity to grow their market share by selectively investing…and CRM enhancements can be a relatively low-cost investment that can pay real dividends down the road.
- Trend 5: The need to get more value from customer information — well, this is the one that actually hits the closest to my current bailiwick. Band nails it when he says “the right approach to customer data management is elusive.” His point, though, is that companies are going to have to get smarter about how they manage and use customer information. No doubt. I don’t see this nut truly getting cracked in 2009 — more and more companies are starting to realize they need to invest in master data management (MDM) and customer data integration (CDI). That’s easier said than done. For one thing…see Trend 3 above — no company tackles this issue until they’ve painted themselves into a corner that will require a hefty price tag to get out of. There are a handful of different approaches for getting out of that corner. All of them have there pros and cons. None of them are conceptually difficult to understand. ALL of them are wayyyyyy more involved to implement successfully. I’m struggling to envision any sort of step function change in the world of CRM on that front in 2009.
It will be interesting to look back in a year and see which of these areas really did see seismic shifts. I’m staying tuned!