Social networking, ROI, pricing among '09 CRM trends

Analysts say the CRM space is due for some major changes this year.

Big changes are coming to the CRM (customer relationship management) application market this year, with significant financial, strategic and technical implications for customers, say analysts who track the space.

Large vendors like SAP and Oracle are "pushing hard" for customers to upgrade their CRM applications this year, said Forrester Research analyst William Band. "This is forcing a lot of organizations to make a decision."

Customers who do wish to proceed with an upgrade will have a tougher time getting approval than in the past, given the chill the economy has placed on all IT spending.

Therefore, customers must prepare a more stringent business case for CRM -- something that didn't necessarily happen much in the market's earlier days, according to Band.

"In the late 90s, early 2000s, the CRM space was very buoyant. A lot of people bought into the Tom Siebel vision," Band said, referring to the former CEO and chairman of Siebel Systems, which has since been acquired by Oracle. "They invested in more of a promise than some really good due diligence."

Companies may also need to work on other technical fronts this year to gain the most benefit from their CRM implementation, Band wrote in a recent report.

"Due to multiple instances of software, disparate enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, and poor data integration," CRM applications can end up providing "a fragmented view of the customer," he wrote. Forrester expects that this year, "CRM professionals will continue to focus intently on how enterprises collect, distribute, and use data."

In terms of CRM product functionality, look for last year's trend toward "social CRM" -- marked by collaboration tools like wikis and blogs within the CRM experience -- to morph into "cloud CRM," wherein CRM applications connect to external social-networking sites like Facebook or LinkedIn, as well as other Web sources, according to 451 Group analyst China Martens.

CRM vendors will also try to boost customer retention by adding new features, Martens said. This need is pressing in the CRM space, where products' core capabilities don't vary much. Salesforce has already made this type of move, introducing a product for content management, for instance.

CRM applications will also become more modular, according to Martens.

"Oracle has started down this path already and many of its peers are looking to emulate its example," she said, referring to last year's release of three Oracle SaaS CRM products -- Sales Prospector, Sales Campaigns and Sales Library -- as well as its CRM Gadgets.

Martens is expecting that customers will demand more clarity on pricing from vendors, especially ones with SaaS (software as a service) products. Vendors will also experiment with unique pricing models, such as connecting the application's cost with a customer's profitability, and more companies may go with open-source products like SugarCRM in an effort to reduce costs, she predicted.

Price cuts could also be on order from the likes of NetSuite and Salesforce, but expect a number of skirmishes among rivals, rather than "an all-out pricing war," she said.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Chris Kanaracus

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?