Often, at year's end, the editors of CRM magazine like to evaluate the biggest industry events and trends that we have covered over the course of the year. It's helpful to take a look at what companies are investing in as it reveals a sense of what lies ahead. Once again, we offer this analysis in the cover story New Year, New Strategies," by Marshall Lager. Many of the biggest trends are covered in the feature—big data, predictive analytics, social media, mobile technology, and gamification.
All of these technology trends are still in nascent stages, but it doesn't mean businesses aren't able to extract value from them. Companies are already recognizing success with enterprise social media technologies—we've been covering this trend pretty extensively over the past few years. Soft and hard ROI numbers from mobile strategies have slowly been cropping up. And if the pair of mobile technology stories ("Apple's iBeacon Expands Retail Opportunities for Location-Based Services" and "At Shop.org, Retailers Prepare for a Mobile Future," by Associate Editor Sarah Sluis) in this month's Insight section is an indicator, we'll likely see mobile technology deployments accelerate pretty rapidly during the next few years. Look to the retail industry to lead these efforts.
There is another trend that, while not explicitly mentioned in the feature, is implied—engaging customers over multiple channels. After all, smartphones alone enable people to communicate on a variety of channels: the phone, the Web, email, and SMS/text messaging. When you combine these with social media and other modes of communication, such as Web chat and kiosks, you have a full suite of interaction channels.
This isn't exactly news to most organizations. In fact, according to the feature story "Overcome Multichannel Customer Service Challenges," by News Editor Leonard Klie, 80 percent of organizations are, by definition, multichannel organizations simply because they offer multiple ways to communicate with them. However, managing so many customer communication channels doesn't come without challenges. One of the biggest obstacles facing organizations today is integrating all of these channels so that when customers traverse these channels, their valuable data isn't lost. Naturally, there are other challenges facing contact center professionals, and several of them are mentioned in Leonard's feature. Fortunately, the feature offers some helpful tips on how to overcome these hurdles.
Leonard's feature does what so many of our features aim to do—help organizations improve their customer experiences and relationships. Actually, this is CRM magazine's purpose. As we look ahead to 2014, the technologies and trends that our editors cover might change, but the magazine's purpose does not. We remain focused on providing our readers with the best coverage of CRM news, analysis, and strategies. Of course, if there are any stories you'd like us to cover in the year ahead, feel free to email me your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We're getting ready for the 11th annual CRM Service Awards, which honor the leaders, emerging companies, and best case studies in customer service and support. The awards will be featured in the March 2014 issue of CRM magazine. If you're interested in nominating a company for an award, please visit www.destinationcrm.com/ServiceAwards. The deadline for entries is Friday, December 6, 2013.