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In the Future, Your CRM Applications Will Need to Natively Support AI, IoT, Analytics and Integration

by Olive Huang  |  February 13, 2020  |  Comments Off on In the Future, Your CRM Applications Will Need to Natively Support AI, IoT, Analytics and Integration

What is the best way to stay dry in Sydney’s grey raining day? – go to Microsoft Envision they said. All the Microsoft executives at the event claimed they brought rain from Seattle instead of Cyclone Uesi. Well these are very good rains to put off bush fires, fill the dams and recover the water tables – no complaints. Every drop helps.

Microsoft executives also brought interesting updates. In Gartner research “2019 Strategic Roadmap for CRM Technologies” (Gartner member’s access required), we explained one of the most important trends in the next five years is CRM applications will need to natively support AI, IoT, analytics and integrations.

In the past two years, we observed a leap forward in investment and acquisition by larger CRM vendors in the areas of AI, conversational UI, hybrid integration, identity and access management, IoT, analytics and event-streaming. There are many technologies being added “under the covers” in CRM applications that will shape the next five years, but two stand out:

Firstly, machine learning and deep neural networking functionality is one of the most exciting of these technologies. Currently, there is no one approach that will help organizations across all CRM functions. There are myriad niche solutions that can help organizations excel in different aspects of marketing (such as automated optimizing of the sizing and formatting of web content). Likewise in sales (such as improving sales forecasting accuracy) and customer service (such as providing optimized answers to customer questions).

Secondly, the ability to make use of real-time data to both improve the customer experience and sell more in context is another exciting technology. This is driven by the use of mobile devices on which users have instant, on-demand access to information and a faster connectivity. Customer-centric, continuous and contextual experiences will become the competitive differentiator for the future of customer experience, requiring organizations to leverage the IoT, new types of identity and access management tools, advanced analysis capabilities, new data sources and journey orchestration technologies.

Large CRM vendors have been acquiring, and sometimes building, these capabilities and are embedding them into the platform as a service (PaaS) layer, so that multiple CRM application types can make use of them. I can see Microsoft, as a technology power house,  is moving steadily on this path. At Microsoft Envision, Microsoft demonstrated many intersting use cases that support this trend, use of vision and conversational AI in sales and customer service spaces, use of IoT and mixed reality in field services, new customer data management and analytics solutions in Power Platform, and low-code development environment and pre-built integration connectors that enable agility and speed to change to business users in organizations.

However the challenge that organizations face is not only on chosing the right CRM software, but on how fast you can adopt the new technologies. SaaS-based CRM applications are commonly updated three or four times a year. A host of new functional and analytical capabilities are therefore being added on an almost continuous basis. Often, this change is at a rate faster than organizations are able to absorb. It is no longer access to new functionality that is the barrier, but the organizations’ ability to recognize the opportunities provided and then apply them.

For organizations, pick the best use case cases for the majority of business users as ready-to use functions, establish the right balance between build and buy, and improve employee’s digital dexterity become the key. The most digitally dexterous employees will thrive, and drive the technology adoption — citizen developers, citizen integrators, and citizen data scientists that augment IT. We discussed how to improve employees’ digital dexterity in the research “Maximize Digital Dexterity by Cultivating Citizen IT” (Gartner member’s access required).

Additional Resources

CRM Strategy and Customer Experience Primer for 2019

We outline our 2019 research plans for CRM and CX to help application leaders support these two different mission-critical priorities.

Read Free Gartner Research

Category: crm-software-industry  crm-strategy-and-customer-experience  crm-strategy-and-customer-experience-for-technical-professionals  customer-experience  customer-service  

Tags: crm  gartner  gartnercrm  microsoft  software  

Olive Huang
Research Director
1 years at Gartner
16 years IT Industry

Olive Huang is a Research Director in Gartner Research and is part of the company's CRM software research team. Her research area focuses on customer services and support, contact centers, CRM vendors and service providers, and CRM strategy and best practices in the Asia/Pacific region. Read Full Bio

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