Like most of you, I am continually bombarded with articles and blogs claiming mobile, social and data will “forever change the way we do business.” So why would I write another one? I take issue with most of these articles because few actually dig into specifically how these buzz words will change our lives. I have an iPhone, I use social media and I'm sure there's all kinds of data about me floating around the Internet. I want to know how each of these is being used to sell to me better, make me buy more, or otherwise affect my behaviors.
With that in mind, I recently reached out to five top analysts in my field to garner their thoughts on how mobile, social and data will impact customer relationship management specifically. We came up with a list of what we are calling CRM's Next 5 in 5 – a play off of IBM's five innovations that will change our lives in the next five years. My colleague Lauren Carlson devised a similar report last year, so I wanted to update her findings.
For this article, I consulted with each of the following analysts:
• Denis Pombriant, CEO of Beagle Research Group LLC
• Brent Leary, owner of CRM Essentials
• Esteban Kolsky, principal and founder of ThinkJar
• Brian Vellmure, CEO and founder of Initium LLC / Innovantage
• Paul Greenberg, owner of 56 Group LLC
Here's a list of specific aspects of mobile, social and data they see impacting CRM software during the next five years.
Curating Technologies Will Siphon Data for a Specific Business Goal
As we all know, Big Data means nothing unless you can actually do something with it. But there's so much out there, it's difficult for a business to know what pieces they can use to actually grow their business. Do they want to generate leads? Garner market intelligence? Develop their product?
Curated data services will start with the business goal then filter out the data that achieves it. Let's say you wanted to better score and generate leads off of your website visitors. One technology could, for example, automatically score site visitors as a lead with Dun and Bradstreet, social media and IP address information. Then adjust that score based on how they interact with your website.
In the hypothetical above, sales reps might be alerted through their CRM if a website visitor at that moment is in their buyer persona sweet spot, on the site for the fourth time that day, and just emailed a white paper about your product to a colleague.
Companies Will Leverage Contacts in New Ways with Crowdsourcing
Customers and clients are paying less and less attention to traditional marketing and sales strategies, such as television and print. Just take a look at this recent report showing a huge disparity in marketing spend between traditional and digital channels.
What customers do pay attention to – particularly in today's social and Yelpified world – is what their friends, family and contacts say about your brand. This is where crowdsourcing comes in. It isn't a new concept, but technology developers will come up with services that empower customers and contacts to be personal brand advocates. This could layer in gamification elements, but the idea is leveraging contacts to market your brand for you.
Social Media Will (Finally) Directly Prove ROI
Many of you out there will probably fight me on this, but I still struggle to see the direct ROI in social media. For me, it's a wonderful tool for relationship building and staying “in the know.” But generating leads off the channel is still cumbersome and inefficient because it's a mostly manual process – if you do it at all.
There are definitely some products out there innovating in this space, but they face one huge challenge. The data needed to automate this process is accessed through open social APIs – these are evolving so quickly that the data is often imperfect and unreliable. As these APIs improve, technology developers will innovate new products that leverage social data to generate leads and produce revenue.
Voice-Enabled Technology Will Mobilize CRM
Many CRM mobile apps today essentially work and function much like the desktop version. They might be optimized with slimmed down dashboards and navigation with swiping and pinching. But they still require a lot of tapping and fishing around various pages.
Voice is one way to work around to this. Apple innovated in this space with Siri. But I can't count on one hand the number of times I've seen comedy sketches poking fun at her for getting commands hilariously wrong.
Eventually Natural Language Understanding – the algorithms that understand not just what is said, but the context of it – will perfect voice-enabled navigation. Once they do, CRM developers will feel more comfortable leveraging that technology in their mobile experience.
Predictive Analytics Will Improve Personalized Marketing
Predictive analytics tell companies what a customer is likely to be attracted to based on their past behaviors. We see early versions of this from Amazon, which suggests products based on what you’ve already purchased or searched for.
Uses for this intelligence will continue to improve so personalized messaging, offers and deals will happen right at the moment when there is the greatest opportunity.
Imagine, for example, that you go to a clothing site and add five items to your cart. Five minutes later you navigate away from the page without buying. In the future, you might receive an email or text message a minute later saying “Buy those five items now and get a 10 percent discount and entry into a drawing for an iPad.” This wouldn't be sent to everyone that abandoned their cart. Just to me because the site knows from my history I only buy sale items, or shop when there's a special; and I enter every contest. Additionally, I'm a loyal customer and a big spender. It makes sense to spend money marketing to me.
These are just a few of the specific ways our experts see mobile, social and data changing CRM in the future. What do you see in your crystal ball? Join the conversation with a comment here.
Guest Author: Ashley Verrill is a market analyst that writes for the Software Advice website. She has spent the last six years reporting and writing business news and strategy features. Her work has appeared in myriad publications including Inc., Upstart Business Journal, the Austin Business Journal and the North Bay Business Journal. Before joining Software Advice in 2012, she worked in sales management and advertising. She is a University of Texas graduate with a bachelor's degree in journalism.