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This article is part of our Essential Guide: IT Priorities survey predicts 2018 IT strategy for tech pros

IT Priorities survey: CRM trends indicate move to the cloud

Hybrid cloud and on-premises IT should remain the norm for years. But more respondents to TechTarget's late 2017 survey indicate more cloud CRM and social media monitoring.

Hybrid on-premises and cloud application deployments will remain the norm, as many organizations move implementation...

of CRM to cloud vendors.

Such CRM trends -- and a large jump in social media monitoring investments versus 2016 -- are the main surprises from TechTarget's 2018 IT Priorities survey, conducted in late 2017.

Of the 369 North American respondents:

  • Forty-five percent indicated they planned to invest in packaged (on-premises) applications, which includes implementation of CRM, versus 53% the previous year.
  • Sixty-nine percent said they planned to invest in cloud applications, also including CRM, in the coming year, holding steady from 71% the previous year.
  • Regardless of cloud or on premises, 25% indicated that their companies planned an implementation of CRM in the coming year.

CRM trends show cloud on the rise

While respondents who planned to increase budget for cloud services was generally on the rise from respondents in the 2017 and 2018 surveys, those who indicated a hybrid cloud and on-premises enterprise IT topology jumped from 25% to 45%.

Brent Leary, CRM EssentialsBrent Leary

Hybrid configurations are here to stay, said Brent Leary, co-founder and partner of CRM Essentials LLC. That's because many businesses retain legacy apps that can't be deployed in the cloud or have other reasons for keeping some data on site. He added that in his experience, that depends on the size of the business.

Large and medium-sized operations, he said, have already likely moved business-critical applications into the cloud and plan to move more. Leary added that they'll likely have to stay in hybrid models for years, possibly decades to come. That's not the case for small business, which made up 25% of respondents (less than $10 million annual revenue).

"[Smaller businesses] skew more heavily to cloud-based, with no need or want for the hybrid approach," Leary said. "They don't have legacy systems, and they don't want anything that isn't in the cloud."

Social media monitoring nearly triples

Beyond the CRM trends cited, respondents who planned to invest in social media management or monitoring applications/services almost tripled, from 13% in 2017 to 37% in 2018. That, Leary said, represents a cohort of companies that were hoping to put it off one more year but now have to play catch-up.

[Smaller businesses] don't have legacy systems, and they don't want anything that isn't in the cloud.
Brent Learyco-founder and partner, CRM Essentials

Leary was quick to add, however, that the social component is a growing part of customer service and marketing, but it's becoming impossible to manage on an ad hoc basis because of the proliferation of ways customers can engage with a company.

"There are more channels now, there are more ways for customers to communicate," Leary said, adding that chatbots are also helping companies automate responses to the messages proliferating on social messaging apps in an "internet minute." "There's more to manage than ever before, and you can't put it off any longer."

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