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CRM's top 10 stories of 2006

CRM is set to soar…again. VoIP, SaaS and a battle for market share between Oracle and SAP made the news interesting in 2006.

For the first time in years, earth-shattering acquisitions weren't the biggest news in CRM this year, but the market for CRM technology remained an active and tumultuous place in 2006. We break down the top 10 stories of the year.

10. Security isn't just for databases anymore --  CRM practitioners need to start thinking security as well. Research conducted this year found that the customer loyalty costs of data breaches can reach $140 per record. In addition, the HP pretexting scandal and several offshoring fiascos showed how vigilant companies have to be and have left call centers grappling with data security. Yet despite the headlines, marketers remain unprepared should their company fall victim.

9. CRM finds a friend in Google -- Not one but two SaaS CRM vendors released tools to link their CRM system with Google's adwords program. "Marketing nirvana," quipped one customer.

8. VoIP connects in the call center -- The benefits of Voice over Internet Protocol became worthwhile for an increasing number of contact centers in 2006 as many, particularly smaller operations, decided to make the move to VoIP, though others remained cautious.

7. Mobile CRM gets a move on -- For years, we've been hearing it: "This will be the year for Mobile CRM." In 2006, that prediction finally rang true, particularly in the midmarket and with SaaS vendors. Salesforce was so excited it bought a mobile CRM company. And one welding firm gave the trend some credibility with a successful mobile SAP implementation.

6. On-demand outgrows CRM -- Software as a Service wasn't just for CRM in 2006, and it was the CRM vendors leading the expansion with on-demand customization, online communities and open source.

5. SAP gets SaaSy -- Having held out for years, SAP emerged with CRM on-demand capabilities in 2006. Much to the chagrin of its competitors, SAP added a twist to the on-demand CRM market, following up its sales module with marketing and customer service modules, eventually marrying SAP CRM on-premise to on-demand and drawing some attention to "hybrid" as a new implementation fad.

4. The return of big CRM … -- This year marked the start of a return to spending on enterprise CRM applications, so say prognostications from Forrester, AMR and analysts at the Gartner CRM Summit. Predictions have the CRM market reaching between $8.4 billion and $10.9 billion by 2010.

3. … but only after the post mortem -- In 2006, everyone had a theory for why, historically, CRM has failed, whether it was too much focus on technology, not enough process or a lack of patience. But at least this year they also offered up some reasons for success.

2. Microsoft follows through --  It seems Microsoft makes this list every year. Because it does, its CRM product showed real momentum in 2006, offering relief after Vista delays, and even made some headway in larger enterprises. Microsoft has big plans to integrate CRM with Office 2007, and Vista as well.

1. SAP vs. Oracle -- Opposition -- not acquisition -- strategy was front of mind for Oracle in 2006, as it repeatedly wrangled with SAP over CRM market share. Along with massive marketing efforts, the two applications giants were fighting over vertical CRM and support.

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