What's in Store for '04?

As the New Year approaches, some wonder what 2004 has in store for the CRM industry. Industry pundit Barton Goldenberg, president and founder of CRM consultancy firm ISM, predicts a lot of positive momentum on the horizon for the industry. "I'm really excited about the activities that are likely to occur in 2004," Goldenberg says. "The CRM software and services industry will grow between ten and fifteen percent during 2004." The key driver behind this growth, Goldenberg says, is increased CRM investment in the public sector. Goldenberg says Department of Defense initiatives will have a key impact in this sector, as the U.S. continues to increase security while also making itself more accessible to citizens. One industry trend that will continue into 2004 is CRM vendors working with customers to implement their software, at the expense of third-party service providers, Goldenberg says. "Companies opting for the vendor implementation [team] will be able to negotiate excellent implementation prices," he says. This past year was one full of major mergers: PeopleSoft acquired J.D. Edwards, Siebel Systems acquired UpShot, Pivotal merged with CDC, Best Software announced plans to acquire ACCPAC. Goldenberg says the consolidation trend will continue into 2004. Another hot spot in the coming year will be continued explosion of Web-services. "CRM Web services applications will blossom in 2004, and Microsoft will substantially increase its promotional budget for both Web services and .NET initiatives," Goldenberg says. While the Do-Not-Call list may have sparked fear in the hearts of telemarketers, Goldenberg says that the legislation will prove a boon for permission-based direct marketing solutions providers in 2004. "This in turn will generate new and impressive enhancements in the marketing automation component of CRM software," Goldenberg says. Other hot trends in 2004 include the emergence of CRM in the social networking space, especially in the sales field; further acceptance of the hosted CRM model as a viable CRM strategy; and 30 to 40 percent growth in the number of companies operating as true real-time enterprises, according to Goldenberg.
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