• August 1, 2012
  • By David Myron, Editorial Director, CRM and Speech Technology magazines and SmartCustomerService.com

Where Are CRM Investments Going?

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The CRM industry is continuing its climb. According to Gartner, in 2011, the industry grew 13.5 percent year over year to reach $12 billion in global sales. Various factors are contributing to this growth, such as investments in social, mobile, and analytical applications. The biggest investments, however, are still in software as a service (SaaS).

Even long-time on-premises software provider Oracle has taken notice and is staking a bigger claim in the popular SaaS delivery model.

In an exclusive interview with CRM magazine, Mark Hurd, president of Oracle, says the company's SaaS revenue is already "roughly $1 billion," which is largely due to the company's recent acquisitions of Taleo and RightNow Technologies. This, he adds, makes Oracle "the second largest SaaS provider in the world"—behind Salesforce.com, of course.

Not satisfied with second place, he adds, "We will be the only one in the industry with a suite of products that are SaaS ready—I'm talking about a whole portfolio by the end of the calendar year. So by the time we get started, our plan is to be number one in the world of SaaS."

Although Taleo, which Oracle acquired earlier this year for $1.9 billion, is not a CRM software company—it's a talent management company—the acquisition further validates the SaaS model.

Moving forward, social media is expected to gain more attention from CIOs and CMOs. "In 2012, CRM executives are faced with the challenge of taking 'social' more seriously—not as 'just another channel,' but as a whole new way of doing business," said Ed Thompson, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner, in a statement.

In fact, Gartner posits, by 2014, if companies refuse to communicate with customers over social channels, it would be as damaging to customer relationships as ignoring phone calls and emails is today. Fortunately, there are more solutions available that give enterprises better insight into social media monitoring, marketing, and even social sales intelligence, as evidenced in this year's CRM Market Awards.
A closer look at our awards also suggests that investments in two of CRM's core capabilities—collaboration and personalization—remain paramount. (See the Sales Force Automation category in the Market Leaders section and "A Personal Connection" in the Rising Stars section, respectively.)

Plus, for the first time, new gamification applications are contributing to the industry's growth for their ability to motivate employees and customers to accomplish desired goals by making tasks more fun and rewarding. (Read "Serious About Gamification" in the Rising Stars section and see the Incentive Management category in the Market Leaders section.)

There's a lot to absorb in this year's CRM Market Awards. (All told, there are 75 awards.) It is our hope that highlighting the recent industry trends, innovations, ideas, investments, and success stories will help further your organization's CRM efforts.

Congratulations to this year's CRM Market Awards recipients. May you continue to raise the bar in customer relationships.

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