According to recent research by Gartner,
- 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.
Gartner published the report What’s Hot in CRM Applications in 2013, by Ed Thompson on June 20, 2013. The report covers areas of interest by clients in the four areas of marketing, sales, customer service and e-commerce.
The report states that “the 2013 What’s Hot list was compiled after examining Gartner inquiry volumes by topic. It was then supplemented by asking all Gartner CRM analysts to offer their opinions on what has been generating the most interest during all the client inquiries they have taken since the end of 2012 and in the beginning of 2013.”
Big data, cloud, social, mobile and the Internet of Things are the five catalysts that are driving inquiries in the hottest areas of interest. Gartner’s Ed Thompson, author of the report, states that “this is where our clients’ interests lie, although not their current CRM spending.” Technologies highlighted in red are the hottest in terms of interest, shown in the following table Highest CRM Application Priorities for 2013.
What This Says About the Future of CRM
Mobility is just one part of delivering an excellent customer experience.
Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.
- It is surprising that Gartner clients aren’t looking to create a more unified strategy to customer experience across all channels at all times. As the report states, “The refreshing of an aging agent desktop with a new, more intelligent and unifying user interface has shot to the top of the heat charts once more.” The findings of this Gartner analysis make the highly promoted claims of usability by many CRM vendors look overly hyped. I think usability is the fastest path to greater system adoption of any CRM system, and that has to include mobile. It is surprising that a related technology in this area didn’t rise farther in the rankings.
- Second, mobile sales on smartphones and tablets dominate, followed immediately by Social – Internal Collaboration and Social – Integration with Social Data. What is fascinating about this group of four top items in Sales is the indication that the behavior of how sales teams work individually and together is changing fast. Collaboration is a strong catalyst for Return on Investment (ROI) from social technologies and the sequence of these priorities in Sales underscores that.
- Third, the vision of the mobile-enabled support representative able to be autonomous yet fully supported to solve customer problems is rapidly approaching. Of all patterns emerging from this data, this is one shows the greatest profit potential. Service Lifecycle Management (SLM) and the many forms of service management all have very significant profitability associated with them for manufacturers. The quicker this area of mobility moves, the faster SLM and Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) strategies will grow – giving manufacturers and service providers the ability to mine their installed bases for more profits.
- Fourth, predictive analytics and big data are reordering how marketing strategies are designed, implemented and managed. Given the increasing complexity of marketing automation systems and the strategies they support, predictive analytics and big data are starting to dominate the conversations I’ve personally had with Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) and many demand generation professionals. I expect the predictive analytics aspects of marketing, combined with big data, to accelerate quickly over the next year.
- Fifth, the rapid adoption of mobile-based platforms including the Apple iPad in the Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) continues throughout the professional services, discrete and process manufacturing companies I often visit. One manufacturer I often work with on their CPQ strategies has the ability today to present a completed 3D model of the proposed product, embed it in a quote and e-mail it to the prospect all from an iPad. The future of CPQ is going to be dominated by mobility and enterprise support for key order management, pricing and product configuration options.
All enterprises, regardless of what they produce or the services they deliver, are really information businesses.
The accuracy, speed and precision of IT systems means the difference between winning or losing customers, keeping supply chains profitable, and solidly translating new concepts into revenue-producing products and services. The world’s best-run services businesses have customer-driven IT as part of their DNA; it is very much who these companies are internally.
In the recently published Garter report CEO and Senior Executive Survey 2013: 21 Top Companies Admired for Competitive IT completed between October and December, 2012, which was part of the 2013 CEO and Senior Business Executive Survey, C-level respondents were asked to name the companies they most admired in terms of their ability to apply IT-related business capabilities for competitive advantage. Respondents were also asked to limit their responses only to their own and related industries.
391 respondents participated in the survey with 147 being CEOs, 149, CFOs; 49, COOs; and 46 being board members including Chairman of the board and president. Geographic distribution included 152 respondents from North America; 124 from Europe; 78 from Asia/Pacific; 20 from Brazil; 12 from South Africa; and 5 from the Middle East with minimum company size being $250M in annual sales or above.
The following is the list of the world’s most admired companies using IT for competitive advantage.
Most Admired Companies Making IT A Competitive Advantage
Hospital Corporation of America
JP Morgan Chase
Proctor & Gamble
- Customer-driven IT is the single most admired trait of all 21 companies in the list. Associated with this attribute is the proven ability of these enterprises to manage complex e-commerce systems & platforms, support multichannel management, in addition to continually show the ability to innovate quickly.
- Enterprises need to consider how the business successes their investments in IT are enabling can be used for branding and recruitment. Providing benchmark performance data and stories of how IT helped create entirely new markets and solve customer problems needs to be used for recruiting. Many of the 21 companies mentioned are doing this, using success stories as a catalyst for driving recruitment efforts for analytics, cloud computing and systems integration experts.
- Don’t underestimate the disruptive power of cloud computing and mobility to completely re-order enterprise systems quickly. Gartner mentions that there are enterprises whose IT organizations would have made the list had they not slowed down. While not directly stated, Gartner warns IT departments to not become complacent over time. From personal experience working in IT departments however, it is clear that complacency is a leading career hazard. It’s imperative for CIOs to keep challenging their organizations to stay intensely focused on new developments, seeking out how they can be used to strengthen business strategies.
- Four of the top five factors that most impressed respondents about the admired companies are customer-related. Customer-facing IT (15%); followed by an integrated/standardized/unified IT organization and process framework (13%); exceptional use of CRM (11%); customer-centered innovation (9%); and product design & offerings (9%) are the most mentioned attributes of the highest-performing companies. Multiple responses were allowed to this area of the survey. The following graphic provides an analysis of which factors most impressed the C-level executives who were respondents to the survey.
From the obvious to the outrageous, enterprise software predictions often span a wide spectrum at the beginning of every year.
In enterprise software in general and ERP specifically, there are many safe harbors to dock predictions in, from broad industry consolidation to Oracle buying more companies. Or the inexorable advances of cloud computing and SaaS platforms in ERP today, which is often cited in enterprise software predictions.
Too often predictions gravitate too much towards theoretical economics, overly-simplified industry dynamics and technologies, leaving out the most critical element: customers as people, not just transactions. So instead of repeating what many other industry analysts, observers and pundits have said, I am predicting only the customer side of ERP advances in the next twelve months.
The following are my predictions for ERP systems and enterprise computing in 2013:
- The accelerating, chaotic pace of change driven by customers will force the majority of Fortune 500 companies to reconsider and refine their ERP and enterprise computing strategies. Social, mobile and cloud computing are combining to provide customers with more acuity and articulation of what their preferences, needs and wants are. The majority of ERP systems installed today aren’t designed for managing the growing variation and pace of change in customer requirements and needs. In the next twelve months this trend will force the majority of Fortune 500 companies to re-evaluate their current ERP systems when it becomes clear their existing enterprise systems are getting in the way of attracting new customers and holding onto existing ones.
- Highest-performing CIOs will rejuvenate monolithic, dated ERP systems and make them agile and customer-focused, while at the same time excelling at change management. There are CIOs who can handle these challenging tasks, and the future belongs to those who can fluidly move between them quickly. In twelve months, a group of CIOs will emerge that are doing this, delivering significant gains to gross margins and profitability in their companies as a result. They’re the emerging class of rock stars in IT and enterprise computing.
- Quality ratings of ERP systems by internal customers will become commonplace, including 360-degree feedback on ERP performance. This is overdue in many companies and it takes a courageous CIO and senior management staff to value feedback on how their ERP systems are performing. In the most courageous companies, within twelve months the results of these internal surveys will be posted on bulletin boards in IT and throughout IT services departments. For some companies this will be first time IT staff members have a clear sense of just what internal customers need, how they are being served, and what needs to be done to improve business performance.
- ERP systems built on a strong foundation of personas, or clear definition of customers and their roles, will overtake those built just on features alone. This is already happening and it will accelerate as featured-based ERP systems prove too difficult to be modified to reflect the fast-changing nature of personas and roles in organizations. The quickest way to determine if a given ERP system launching in the next twelve months will succeed or not is asking what personas it is based on and why.
- Customers push speed and responsiveness from a “nice to have” to a “must have” as advances in mobility platforms and integration make real-time possible. If there is one unifying need across the personas of customers an ERP system serves, it is the need to improve responsiveness and speed. The same holds true within enterprises today as well. It would be fascinating to look at the data latency differences between market leaders versus laggards in the airline industry for example. Customers will push accuracy, speed and precision of response up on the enterprise computing agenda of many companies this year. Speed is the new feature.
- What were once considered ERP-based operations bottlenecks will be shown to be lack of customer insight. Take for example the very rapid product lifecycles in retailing. At first glance slower sales are attributed to not having the right mix of products in stores, which is a classic supply chain problem. Yet customer-driven ERP systems will tell retailers a different story, showing how product selection, even suppliers, are no longer pertinent to their customers’ preferences and needs. More customer-centric ERP systems will help retailers overcome costly and difficult to recover from bottlenecks in their operations.
Bottom line: Enterprises clinging to monolithic, inflexible ERP systems need to re-evaluate how their enterprise computing strategies are serving their customers before their competitors do.