Customer relationship management (CRM) has jumped 10 places since last year to become CIOs’ No 8 technology priority for 2012, and CEOs have cited CRM as their most important area of investment to improve their businesses over the next five years, a survey suggests.
“The focus on the customer is increasingly important for business leaders, despite times of continued economic uncertainty and government austerity,” said Jim Davies, research director at Gartner, in response to the survey of CIOs by Gartner, Inc.’s Executive Programs.
“Effective leaders use technology to strengthen the customer experience regardless of the economic environment, and they see customers as the key factor in helping their business deliver growth and operational efficiency in 2012. They also understand that a new strategy is needed to embrace social and media trends.”
This year, CRM executives face the challenge of taking ‘social’ as a whole new way of doing business, said Ed Thompson, vice-president and distinguished analyst at Gartner.
Gartner predicts that by 2014, refusing to communicate with customers via social channels will be as harmful to the relationship as ignoring their emails or phone calls is today.
“Our discussions with service providers and end users indicate that CRM services are shifting from a focus on point solution deployment centred on application suites, to a ‘customer experience’ that brings together customer information, analytics, workflows, mobility and social CRM disciplines into a richer, multichannel access to capture the entire customer journey,” Thompson said.
Worldwide CRM software revenue reached US$12bn in 2011, a 13.5pc increase from 2010, and it is forecast to grow 7pc in 2012, Gartner said.