10 CRM Trends to Watch in 2017  by Oren Smilansky

A new calendar year doesn’t necessarily mean seismic shifts in the attitudes, practices, and technologies that define an industry, but it does provide an opportunity to reflect on where we’ve been and where we’re heading. But if there is one overarching theme, it’s that customer expectations for excellent experiences are not going to let up anytime soon, and because of this, companies can’t afford to get too comfortable.

TECHNOLOGIES WILL CONVERGE: “When they can’t pull the data from disparate systems together, expect businesses to grow weary of so-called best-of-breed solutions that present integration, implementation, and deployment challenges, warns Leslie Ament, senior vice president and chief research officer at Hypatia Research Group. Vendors with integration-ready partnerships, partnership ecosystems, and/or one-stop solutions are gaining ground in this marketplace,” she states.

“This is especially important considering that most companies still buy their CRM technologies in separate pieces for each individual department. For instance, while a firm might elect to purchase Oracle’s Marketing Cloud for the marketing department, it might choose Salesforce.com’s Sales Cloud for the sales organization. Those two must connect seamlessly to allow for cross-pollination.”

USERS WILL BE BETTER ABLE TO BLEND CHANNELS: Ament “anticipates another move within organizations: enabling agents to blend channels, with a single interface that lessens their need to toggle between screens and applications to accomplish their increasing list of tasks.” Most of the major CRM players have started to investigate such technologies in a big way. Salesforce.com, for instance, has been making noise around its Einstein AI solutions. Pegasystems has invested in robotic automation to help with routine tasks. Oracle has introduced adaptive intelligent cloud applications that tackle common ground. Similarly, IBM’s Watson’s cognitive computing tools learn over time to cut corners. It wouldn’t be surprising to see others entering this market in the near future.

CRM WILL BECOME A LITTLE MORE VERTICAL: While it is by no means becoming the norm for companies to invest in CRM systems that are designed specifically for use in one industry or another, analysts point out that larger CRM vendors are offering additional software and services that apply to a number of verticals.

Ament says that “embedding industry-specific and repeatable workflow business processes into customer engagement interactions” will pick up even more steam in the coming months. “This is especially evident in process-driven industries such as pharmaceuticals, financial services, and manufacturing sectors.”

Full article at 10 CRM Trends to Watch in 2017.