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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, 2011 saw the market reach $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, meanwhile,
jumped to number two, nearly doubling Oracle’s growth with a 22.6 percent pop
and leading over other top 10 market leaders like 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 see a hit 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," says 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

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, says
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 says. "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."