I’ve taken note of a number of articles, including those by Paul Greenberg and Larry Dignan, all predicting companies to keep an eye on for 2009, whether they’re directly related to CRM or not. Here’s my two cents…
If there is a common thread, it’s certainly the recession, and how a vendor’s business model is poised to weather the storm. For CRM vendors, the price of deploying large sales forces globally for face-to-face engagements will be cut back severely. Selling efficiently is the key, and leveraging the Web will become critical.
The world is becoming ubiquitous, and the ability to integrate solutions will become critical, thanks largely towards open source and more open, standard-based APIs. In that way, and as Paul Greenberg pointed out, SugarCRM is well positioned to leverage its global community and the Internet to virtually sell.
As I’ve mentioned in the past, during tough times like these, open source becomes even more valuable, and for reasons that go beyond just the cost savings.
Along those similar lines, there’s a convergence taking place, a new wave of CRM is emerging with the whole concept of social CRM, which is all part of the Web 2.0, social media uproar, and includes customers leveraging social communities, data proliferation, and massive increases in connectivity and interconnectivity. Companies will need to start supplying customers with not just access to products and services, but to employees, suppliers, partners, and each other, all via the virtual capabilities of Web 2.0 and cloud computing.
In that way, I see companies such as IBM and Cisco well positioned to capitalize on these developing trends, and CRM vendors looking to build these capabilities into their own product offerings via partnerships.
All in all, it should be an interesting year to say the least.