Which CRM Applications Matter Most In 2018
- Marketing analytics continues to be hot for marketing leaders, who now see it as a key business requirement and a source of competitive differentiation
- Artificial intelligence (AI) and predictive technologies are of high interest across all four CRM functional areas, and mobile remains in the top 10 in marketing, sales and customer service.
- It’s in customer service where AI is receiving the highest investments in real use cases rather than proofs of concept (POCs) and experimentation.
- Sales and customer service are the functional areas where machine learning and deep neural network (DNN) technology is advancing rapidly.
These and many other fascinating insights are from Gartner’s What’s Hot in CRM Applications in 2018 by Ed Thompson, Adam Sarner, Tad Travis, Guneet Bharaj, Sandy Shen and Olive Huang, published on August 14, 2018. Gartner clients can access the study here (10 pp., PDF, client access reqd.).
Gartner continually tracks and analyzes the areas their clients have the most interest in and relies on that data to complete their yearly analysis of CRM’s hottest areas. Inquiry topics initiated by clients are an excellent leading indicator of relative interest and potential demand for specific technology solutions. Gartner organizes CRM technologies into the four category areas of Marketing, Sales, Customer Service, and Digital Commerce.
The following graphic from the report illustrates the top CRM applications priorities in Marketing, Sales, Customer Service, and Digital Commerce.
Key insights from the study include the following:
- Marketing analytics continues to be hot for marketing leaders, who now see it as a key business requirement and a source of competitive differentiation. In my opinion and based on discussions with CMOs, interest in marketing analytics is soaring as they are all looking to quantify their team’s contribution to lead generation, pipeline growth, and revenue. I see analytics- and data-driven clarity as the new normal. I believe that knowing how to quantify marketing contributions and performance requires CMOs and their teams to stay on top of the latest marketing, mobile marketing, and predictive customer analytics apps and technologies constantly. The metrics marketers choose today define who they will be tomorrow and in the future.
- Artificial intelligence (AI) and predictive technologies are of high interest across all four CRM functional areas, and mobile remains in the top 10 in marketing, sales and customer service. It’s been my experience that AI and machine learning are revolutionizing selling by guiding sales cycles, optimizing pricing and enabling CPQ to define and deliver smart, connected products. I’m also seeing CMOs and their teams gain value from Salesforce Einstein and comparable intelligent agents that exemplify the future of AI-enabled selling. CMOs are saying that Einstein can scale across every phase of customer relationships. Based on my previous consulting in CPQ and pricing, it’s good to see decades-old core technologies underlying Price Optimization and Management are getting a much-needed refresh with state-of-the-art AI and machine learning algorithms, which is one of the factors driving their popularity today. Using Salesforce Einstein and comparable AI-powered apps I see sales teams get real-time guidance on the most profitable products to sell, the optimal price to charge, and which deal terms have the highest probability of closing deals. And across manufacturers on a global scale sales teams are now taking a strategic view of Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) as encompassing integration to ERP, CRM, PLM, CAD and price optimization systems. I’ve seen global manufacturers take a strategic view of integration and grow far faster than competitors. In my opinion, CPQ is one of the core technologies forward-thinking manufacturers are relying on to launch their next generation of smart, connected products.
- It’s in customer service where AI is receiving the highest investments in real use cases rather than proofs of concept (POCs) and experimentation. It’s fascinating to visit with CMOs and see the pilots and full production implementations of AI being used to streamline customer service. One CMO remarked how effective AI is at providing greater contextual intelligence and suggested recommendations to customers based on their previous buying and services histories. It’s interesting to watch how CMOs are attempting to integrate AI and its associated technologies including ChatBots to their contribution to Net Promoter Scores (NPS). Every senior management team running a marketing organization today has strong opinions on NPS. They all agree that greater insights gained from predictive analytics and AI will help to clarify the true value of NPS as it relates to Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) and other key metrics of customer profitability.
- Sales and customer service are the functional areas where machine learning and deep neural network (DNN) technology is advancing rapidly. It’s my observation that machine learning’s potential to revolutionize sales is still nascent with many high-growth use cases completely unexplored. In speaking with the Vice President of Sales for a medical products manufacturer recently, she said her biggest challenge is hiring sales representatives who will have longer than a 19-month tenure with the company, which is their average today. Imagine, she said, knowing the ideal attributes and strengths of their top performers and using machine learning and AI to find the best possible new sales hires. She and I discussed the spectrum of companies taking on this challenge, with Eightfold being one of the leaders in applying AI and machine learning to talent management challenges.
Source: Gartner by Ed Thompson, Adam Sarner, Tad Travis, Guneet Bharaj, Sandy Shen and Olive Huang, published on August 14, 2018.