Gartner: Social, mobile and analytics to push CRM through 2015

Rapid changes in mobile and social computing and the data explosion are challenges for customer relationships. Gartner predicts how they will affect the market through 2015.

LOS ANGELES -- Gartner analysts said CRM’s evolution will require practitioners to pay close attention to social computing, mobile and customer analytics -- a sentiment that’s been echoed in the market for years, but one to which Gartner has attached some strategic predictions.

“We have facing us, social, mobile, an explosion of channels and an explosion of data,” said Gene Alvarez, research vice president for the Stamford, Conn.-based research firm, who was speaking at the Customer 360 event being held here this week. “Customers are armed with more technology than [businesses] have. We have to be prepared to change for that, and if you think [business-to-business (B2B) companies are] exempt, ask your direct sales force how many of them have used LinkedIn to reach someone inside a prospect. B2B is going to follow this.”

Among Gartner’s strategic planning assumptions for CRM through 2015:

  • By 2015, 80% of businesses will suffer revenue loss by not supporting Web-based customer service on mobile devices.
  • By 2013, lead management campaigns will be integrated onto four or more digital channels and outperform single or dual channels by 300%.
  • By 2013, four or five new niche software vendors focused on marketing performance management will emerge.
  • By 2014 social CRM vendors will take more than 40% of the market share for campaign management.
  • Through 2015, analytics applications will remain one of the fastest-growing categories for business apps.
  • Over 70% of all CRM projects through 2015 will be viewed as failures if there is no CRM strategy to drive why a firm is undertaking them.
  • By 2015, social marketing processes will influence at least 80% of consumer’s discretionary spending.

“Be careful where you put your communities. Are you cool enough to get people there?”

Gene Alvarez, research vice president

Need proof? Alvarez outlined a number of shifts in marketing and customer engagement as examples. American Airlines Inc. created a contest providing 30,000 free miles to anyone who posted a video about its 30th anniversary. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory made Mars maps available to the public to help the lab’s scientists count craters on the planet. And 1-800-FLOWERS, a company with an older communication channel in its very name, now allows customers to order flowers from within Facebook.

“People will follow places, they will even follow data, but forming communities is challenging,” Alvarez said.

For example, a joint effort between hotel giant Hyatt  Corp. and tour guide publisher Frommer’s to get customers to comment and share information about attractions and restaurants around Hyatt hotels had to be pulled down when people were not ready to leave Facebook or Twitter to leave comments.

“Be careful where you put your communities,” Alvarez warned. “Are you cool enough to get people there?”

For organizations seeking to plan for and adapt to the rapid change, the predictions can be daunting.

Ready for CRM’s changes?

“I don’t think anybody thinks they’re ready for 2015,” said Rebecca Parke, a conference attendee and manager of systems integration for Ottawa-based Canadian Payments Association. “[Alvarez] talks about everything all over the place. But you can’t do nothing.”

Parke, from the IT side of her company, is at the show to help establish a strategy for the organization moving forward.

“Strategy is around what you’re going to implement next, what will drive roadmap, what does the business want to do,” she said.

Indeed, for years CRM initiatives have been plagued by a disconnect between IT and business, but according to Gartner, the two sides are now identifying similar problems. In a survey that asked what the greatest customer-facing challenge is, IT identified establishing a CRM strategy as the No. 2 challenge. For business it was No. 3, and both agreed organizational change was the No. 1 problem, Alvarez said.

For Michael Presta, global marketing manager of Sykes Enterprises Inc., a Tampa, Fla.-based customer service outsourcer, the changes in CRM present a challenge in that his company cannot necessarily look to a software vendor for help. Its customer service representatives (CSRs) are tied to the system its clients’ want it to use. Strategies for social CRM and the flood of channels and data present a problem.

“We’re getting ready,” Presta said. “A lot of people are searching for how to get ready. The model is so entrenched for customer experience being built to the voice model. After years and years of one model, now it’s this paradigm shift. The difficulty is operationally trying to get that mind shift altered.”

For some of its larger clients, Sykes has begun offering community moderation. Because the company recruits and trains CSRs, it instills skills that map to social networking. 

“We have to convince them, you guys need to do this,” Presta said. “But I think just about everybody is on board with it. It’s not a hard sell.”

Barney Beal is the News Director for the Business Applications and Architecture Group at TechTarget. You can follow him on Twitter at @barneybeal.

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