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Mobile, Social, Data and CRM: Top Analysts Predict the Future

 

A year ago today, Software Advice published the first-ever CRM’s Next 5 in 5 report. Taking a page from IBM’s playbook, we interviewed top analysts in the space to devise a list of technological advances that would change CRM during the next five years.

I reached out to the same thought leaders this month to see if any of their predictions have changed, come true or are still evolving. They agreed that while the high-level technologies are the same–social, mobile and data analytics–the specific ways each will impact CRM has evolved. Our experts include:

In this article, I highlight where these experts see software developers continuing to change how social, mobile and data are used with CRM. So without further ado, here is the 2013 edition of CRM’s Next 5 in 5.

‘Curated Data’ Will Address Specific Marketing or Sales Goals

Last year, the group talked a lot about context services, or technologies that harvest data from social, mobile and other sources to tell companies more relevant information about the customer. Social CRM innovator Nimble, for example, automatically identifies contacts’ social profiles and provides updates, tweets and other activity right in the CRM activity feed.

What’s new, according Pombriant, are “curated data” service providers. These companies package contextual data from a variety of sources then apply those insights to specific business goals.

CRM Idol finalist Demandbase is one such data curation innovator I found. Their technology is designed specifically to increase conversions and Web engagement by zeroing in on accounts most likely to buy.

Using a proprietary database of information pooled from IP address registries, Dun and Bradstreet, partners, customers and other data providers, the tool immediately associates digital interactions with an account.

Behind the scenes during my website visit, Demandbase instantly identified I was with Software Advice and integrated information about my corporate identity to change my experience.

Web analytics tracked whether I was with a target account and how many times people from my company have engaged with their website. Depending on whether I’m in their “marketing sweet spot,” a salesperson might have proactively reach out via on-site chat at the same time I was served content proven to speed companies with my “firmographics” down the sales funnel.

This is just one example of a specific sales and marketing goal achieved through data curation. Pombriant said technology developers will continue to find new ways to leverage data to address a variety of increasingly granular business pain points.

Crowdsourcing Services Will Leverage Contacts in New Ways

The crowdsourcing concept isn’t new–Wired magazine contributor Jeff Howe first described the term in a 2006 article as the practice of outsourcing content, ideation and other tasks to a group of people to achieve more, faster.

Crowdtap–also a Mashable Awards Winner–identifies contacts with the highest propensity to become a social brand advocate, then arms them with tools they can use to spread the word on and offline.But since that time, technology developers have capitalized on the idea for an increasing variety of purposes. Leary expects this evolution to continue in the marketing and contact management space. He offered CRM Idol winner Crowdtap as one such example of an early innovator.

Customers are increasingly numb to brand-delivered marketing messages, so having tools to activate contacts to market your company for you will become tantamount to success.

Applications for these technologies will only continue to diversify as developers come up with new ways to leverage the concept with CRM.

Improving APIs Will Monetize Social Media Management

In last year’s CRM 5 in 5 edition, Kolsky foretold “real-time customer intelligence becoming a reality.” He identified data warehousing and processing as the primary obstacle to delivering crucial customer information as it happens today.

This year, we talked about two other barriers to real-time customer intelligence success as it relates to the social data analytics space. First, open social network APIs–which allow developers to access social data in real time–produce unreliable data because they are constantly evolving. Second, platforms such as LinkedIn closely restrict usage of the data they do release.

For now, a few companies have attempted to solve the API obstacle with “social data cleansing,” or technologies that uncover and compensate for imperfections in information they do receive.

One such innovator in this space, NextPrinciples, developed a patent for such social data scrubbing. They’ve also formed a partnership with SAP to provide online memory technology to tackle the data warehousing and processing challenge.

As these APIs mature, social analytics tools will go from simply tracking likes and mentions to enabling direct revenue generation. NextPrinciples and others such as Awareness Social Marketing Hub and Artesian Solutions use social data analytics to enable real-time social lead prospecting.

These tools generate leads based on social profile information and conversations about a brand or a competitor. These leads are then fed into CRM systems via integrations.

Eventually, Vellmure sees lead scoring based on “social influence” being layered into this lead generation functionality.

Natural Language Understanding Will Truly Mobilize CRM

Data provided by Flurry, comScore, Alexa and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

In December, TechCrunch reported that the average time spent browsing the Web on mobile devices has surpassed time spent on a desktop. A lot of this mobile browsing is work-related. However, many CRM apps still require a lot of typing and tapping, which is not ideal for devices without a keyboard.

Apple addressed this annoyance by using voice to power their virtual assistant Siri. But as any user will tell you, she doesn’t understand everything and her suggestions are never perfect. As a result, users don’t fully trust voice-enabled apps–yet.

This will change over time as Natural Language Understanding (NLU) technology improves. NLU determines the intent and context behind spoken words. Once perfected, mobile CRM developers will feel confident knowing voice-enabled mobile apps won’t annoy the user.

Stronger Predictive Analytics Will Automate Personalization

Greenberg sees automated personalization as the biggest opportunity in customer intelligence. This means combining CRM data with online behaviors to automatically cater marketing and sales to a specific person.

We see early versions of this from Amazon, which suggests products based on what you’ve already purchased or searched for, and LinkedIn, which suggests connections based on people you already know. Greenberg gave a different example to describe how this technology will evolve:

Imagine you add five items to your cart on a clothing website, but you navigate away without buying. Two minutes later, you receive an email saying, “Sorry to see you go! Buy the items you left in your cart in the next 10 minutes and get a 10 percent discount and you will be entered into our free drawing for an iPad.”

In this fictional scenario, this message wouldn’t be sent to just anyone that abandons their cart. It was sent to you because the clothing retailer’s CRM saw you regularly participate in contests and open emails about sales and discounts. It knows this is a lever they can pull to drive you into action.

These are just a sampling of technology trends these experts see impacting how CRM systems leverage data, social and mobile. Are there others you see having a bigger impact? Join the conversation by commenting here.

Thumbnail image created by manoftaste.de.

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Ashley Verrill

About the Author

Ashley Verrill has spent the last six years reporting and writing business news and strategy features. Her work has been featured or cited in Inc., Forbes, Business Insider, TechCrunch, GigaOM, CIO.com, Yahoo News, the Upstart Business Journal, the Austin Business Journal and the North Bay Business Journal, among others.

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