CRM Opportunity 2012 Goes Mobile and Social

By Ericka Chickowski  |  Print this article Print

Customer Relationship Management technology is spreading past its initial strongholds and experts believe that new opportunities in mobile and social networking will drive even more growth in 2012. Here's a look at where VARs can find the opportunity.

As organizations deal with new rules of customer engagement and an explosion in ways to parse and deliver customer data, the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) market is undeniably hot. Figures out just before the holidays show a healthy growth in the market and as we move into 2012 experts believe that opportunities in mobile CRM, small business social CRM and all of the big data infrastructure that supports CRM deployments are going to flourish in the coming year.

According to IDC's tracking of nearly 200 CRM global vendors, the market reached $18.2 billion in 2011, up 11 percent from 2010. IDC reported that Oracle kept its position as king of the hill, experiencing better-than-market growth of 13.2 percent. Salesforce.com, meanwhile, jumped to number two, nearly double Oracle's growth with a 22.6 percent pop and leading over other top 10 market leaders such as SAP and NICE Systems.

IDC reported that three of the four functional markets in CRM--marketing, sales and customer service--hit double-digit growth. The only sub-market to fall was contact center, which dropped by 3.6 percent.

According to IDC analyst Mary Wardley, the growth in the market is obviously influenced by social media and mobile trends, as well as a general drive to revamp systems for new market conditions.

"Movements such as social and mobile are bringing consumer-like experience requirements to all aspects of end customer engagement with the companies with whom they conduct business," said Wardley, program vice president of CRM Applications for the analyst firm. "As a result, we will see requirements for a modernization of customer-facing processes, which will precipitate increased investment in supporting systems such as CRM applications."

This tracks with what many CRM experts are seeing from the market. In the immediate term, channel partners should expect the most tangible opportunities in 2012 to revolve around mobile and social CRM for SMBs, said Paul Greenberg, president of The 56 Group, an enterprise consulting services firm focused on CRM.

"As in 2011, the creative development of mobile CRM will be driven by the tablet market and by the ability to analyze large amounts of data quickly that will show up on the tablets," he said. "The success of Hubspot in 2011 and the emergence of a myriad of other technology platforms and companies who are small business focused is an indicator of the interest that small business has when it comes to doing business using social channels."

In the longer term, many of the trends driving CRM purchase patterns could be cause for channel partners to start thinking about selling to stakeholders outside the traditional CIO's office. One of Gartner's annual predictions this year was that by 2015, 35 percent of enterprise IT dollars will be spent outside the IT department. According to Gartner analyst Daryl Plummer, the greater trend at large has marketing and customer-facing functions driving IT to the point where "CMOs may end up having larger IT budgets than CIOs."