Laurence Shaw, president and chief operating officer of the European division of Headstrong, a CRM consultancy, predicted that customer relationship management would no longer be seen as a stand-alone entity. He believed it would instead be integrated into systems software where users would be able to switch it on or off as required.
"There will be major consolidation and there will be far fewer standalone CRM products," Shaw told CW360.com.
Shaw also mooted the idea that CRM products and suites would become more complicated. "I think the complexity is going to increase because there's going to be so much more data and information available," he predicted.
Guy Chaigneau, research analyst at Frost & Sullivan, was also confident that the CRM market was heading for major changes. "There will be some consolidation in the market place. There are too many vendors out there," he said.
Chaigneau believes that it will not necessarily be the big CRM players that will win the consolidation battle. "There's a lot of big vendors who realise that niche players, or e-CRM vendors as we call them, have benefits over the large proprietary vendors. The [big vendors] will have to play catch-up."
Chaigneau cited companies such as eWare, eGain and RightNow Technologies as potential victors. He also believed that privately owned companies were in a much stronger position in the current economic climate, with public competitors who had seen their share prices fall dramatically being ripe for acquisition.
He said this process had started on a small scale and would pick up momentum in the coming months, with most of it occurring before the end of 2002.