CRM is here to stay as businesses seek to improve customer experiences

CRMCRM has been around for a long time, but don't be tempted to think that it's on the way out. Companies are seeing CRM technology as a major part of their digital initiatives in order to improve customer experience.

This is the finding of the latest Gartner market trends report which says that demand for improved customer relationships is driving the expanded integration and use of CRM technology.

"CRM will be at the heart of digital initiatives in coming years. This is one technology area that will definitely get funding as digital business is crucial to remaining competitive", says Joanne Correia, research vice president at Gartner. "Hot areas for CRM investment include mobility, social media and technologies, Web analytics and e-commerce."

Although Gartner expects CRM market growth to be modest in 2014, following three years of strong investment, revenue from CRM software is expected to reach $23.9 billion this year with the cloud accounting for almost half of that.

Whilst e-commerce is at the top of most companies' lists when looking to improve customer service, Gartner's report identifies five main drivers of CRM investment. These include the need to monitor and respond to social media and use it as a channel for business intelligence. The mobile market is also key with connections to the Internet from smartphones expected to overtake those from PCs by the end of 2014.

The cloud is still important despite having been around for more than a decade. Gartner sees the move to the cloud slowing though as, "...the low-hanging fruit for cloud adoption has already been picked". Big data has led to an explosion in the amount of customer information available to businesses and has driven increasing sophistication in CRM models to analyze and predict customer behavior.

The fifth driver is the growing shift towards an "internet of things." As the price of embedded sensors falls, many industries will be transformed by the information gathered and CRM is likely to be at the forefront of exploiting the data produced.

"These drivers are spurring a critical need for more traditional operational CRM as CRM continues to top software investment priorities. This further validates businesses' focus on enhancing customer experience and consistent investment in CRM software, especially in CSS, marketing and sales software", says Ms. Correia.

The full report is available from Gartner's website and Gartner analysts will be discussing CRM trends at summits in Orlando and London later this year.

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