2016: What's next?

This is a guest blogpost by Larry Augustin, CEO, SugarCRM

It’s that time again: prediction season.

Many predictions have been made by the global research and intelligence companies. Gartner has predicted that by 2017, 50% of product investment projects will be redirected to customer experience innovations.

Walker Info suggests that by 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator, highlighting the impact IT and more specifically Customer Relationship Management systems will have on a business’s success. But what is in store for 2016?

What will determine the success of a CRM system in the coming year as the evolution of customer service excellence continues? These are my predictions for the year ahead:

Personalised AnalyticsThis is the next big data trend. CRM is moving toward “systems of engagement” that use predictive analytics to cut through the big data noise to uncover actionable customer insights. Soon salespeople and marketers will use predictive analytics to forecast the impact of their activity and provide more personalised pitches or content to individual customers. By offering greater analytics for the individual user through flexible and usable tools, modern CRM systems will provide sales and marketing teams with all the relevant customer information they need to deliver personalised customer excellence.

Data Privacy Concerns will Affect SaaS CRM Deployments – 2015 saw cyberattack after cyberattack indiscriminately targeting businesses and their customer data. These attacks have raised real online privacy concerns. Therefore, a well-designed and tightly-integrated CRM system is now more than ever imperative to any organisation. In 2016, more companies will opt to deploy CRM with cloud agility, meaning they can maintain security and control of customer data, choose the best public, private or hybrid cloud deployment model (as well as on-premise) for their business, and ensure regulatory compliance.

Mobile CRM will get even better: Mobile is, and will continue to be a rising focus for the CRM space. One of the great benefits of CRM is that it allows businesses to organise themselves more effectively. However, as the workforce is dispersed and people spend time out of the office, a mobile CRM app is crucial so those valuable interactions while on the road aren’t left behind. In the past, many mobile CRM apps have had limited functionality. As we move forward, mobile platforms will become more powerful. You’ll see smartphones display the latest analytics and dashlets via their CRM.  In addition, users will be able to better customise their mobile experience to get the data they want and transform that data into actionable tasks to address customer needs in real-time.

UX will be bigger and better – In 2016, companies that focus on differentiating themselves by providing a positive customer experience will thrive. What drives this? Customer-facing employees having the right information and tools to best serve the customer at exactly the right time. We will now see CRM users having access to enhanced, modern interfaces that incorporate social and mobile customer data to empower the employee to drive extraordinary customer relationships. A fulfilling user experience will mean more intelligent CRM practices, which will make it much easier to execute a seamless customer journey from awareness and purchase to retention and advocacy.

CRM and the Internet of Things (IoT) will become intertwined: Predictions can’t be predictions without mentioning the IoT. 2016 will see CRM and the IoT become heavily integrated for the first time. The potential of harnessing the data of billions of connected devices and integrating that data within the CRM to create extraordinary customer relationships is very exciting. This year, CRM platforms will begin to evolve to work with the data that is being generated, make sense of that data and communicate to the people who can benefit from the analysis so they can perform real actions to help the customer.