Things Can Only Get Better from Here—and the Future Looks Bright for the CRM Industry
I’m sure that I am not alone in celebrating the end of 2021 and being able to flip the page on a new calendar. Just when I was thinking that 2020 was by far the worst year in my lifetime, January 2021 came along, and things only went further downhill on many fronts from there.
Just as it was in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic was front and center for most of 2021. We were teased with a slight ray of hope amid vaccine rollouts, reopenings, and the start of an economic rebound, only to have the virus re-emerge time and time again with new variants.
2021 will also be sadly remembered for the Great Resignation, hyperbolic political rhetoric, inflation, supply chain disruption, a rise in violent crime, and deep divisions on so many issues, including vaccine and mask mandates, cancel culture, and others—both within the United States and abroad.
2022 has to be better than that, right?
So, naturally, we are cautiously optimistic that a new normal is settling into place, or, at least, discussions in Washington, corporate boardrooms, and elsewhere seem to be heading in that direction.
We take solace in the fact that many signs are pointing to a business world where many of the positive changes that COVID-19 brought about are here to stay. COVID-19 forced many companies full throttle into e-commerce and other digital channels just so they could continue selling products and communicating with customers. Workers were sent home, and the remote workforce isn’t quite ready to return to the office just yet. New technology purchases, refreshes, and upgrades were accelerated, and almost everything that could be moved to the cloud did so in a hurry. New technologies emerged, and some legacy systems that should have been sunsetted years ago finally met their end.
And, it would seem, our optimism is being shared by many industry insiders. Among the trends they expect to see in the year ahead are a continued focus on artificial intelligence-fueled digital transformation, a blending of channels into one seamless experience for customers, new ways to personalize interactions, ongoing interest in data security and customer data protections, new metrics to measure the performance of employees and the technologies and processes in place, and a renewed focus on creating great experiences for both customers and employees.
One of the most poignant predictions, and one that will be a central theme for 2022, came from George Gallegos, CEO of Jitterbit. “The demand for seamless customer experiences won’t slow down at all in 2022, and in fact, companies will put even more emphasis on finding the best ways to improve customer experiences as a way to exceed customer expectations.”
A common thread through all the predictions that we present in our Insight piece, “What’s in Store for CRM in 2022?” is that to be successful in 2022, companies will need to be able to drive transformation using back-end data integration and the right CX platform to make sense of all the data that is now at their fingertips.
“The key to success in 2022 will be developing a first-party data strategy that helps brands truly know their customers and meet their expectations,” predicts Tamara Gruzbarg, vice president of strategic services at ActionIQ.
To see what other industry insiders, including both vendors and end users, are predicting for 2022, check out our roundup. We will continue to add more predictions as they come in.
We at CRM magazine also have another reason for hope in 2022: In April we will mark 25 years since we published our first issue in 1997, and we couldn’t be more excited. Our April issue will feature contributions from important industry experts who have shaped the industry, a historic analysis of the past 25 years shaping customer experiences, where we are today, and our best predictions for the future of the business technologies and strategies around customer service, sales, and marketing. It is sure to be one of the most thought-provoking issues in our 25-year history.
Leonard Klie is the editor of CRM magazine. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.