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The CRM market in 2007: Top experts share their views, part 2

CRM experts share their thoughts on 2007 and how trends like customer surveying, self-service and Software as a Service (SaaS) affected customers and the CRM landscape.

A year ago, some of's best and brightest experts shared their predictions for the CRM market in 2007. While not all of the predictions played out as expected, it's worth looking back on the year to discuss how well CRM vendors lived up to expectations and how technology trends like self-service, speech analytics, Software as a Service (SaaS), mobile CRM and Web 2.0 affected customers and the CRM landscape. This two-part series examines the CRM market in 2007. In part two, read insight from The Yankee Group's Ken Landoline, Beagle Research's Denis Pombriant, and the SSPA's John Ragsdale. Read The CRM market in 2007, part 1 for more insight from Forrester's Bill Band, Strategic Contact's Lori Bocklund, DMG Consulting's Donna Fluss, and Sheryl Kingstone of The Yankee Group.




Ken Landoline, senior analyst at the Yankee Group: A year ago, you predicted that customer surveying would become a more commonplace way of measuring customer satisfaction in 2007. Did this happen as expected this year?

Landoline: It didn't happen as quickly as I'd expected. But last year the Yankee Group did a study on customer surveys, and only 20% to 25% of call centers were reportedly conducting post-call surveys. We just did a similar survey, and we're now getting upward of 40%. Last year, you said that you expected at least 50% of companies in North America to implement IP technology in 2007. Did this happen at the rate you expected?

Landoline: That may have been a little high. We don't have a number yet. But the important fact is that there are a lot of indications that IP has [started to take off]. It's not a question of [whether] but when to put it in. A year ago, you referenced a report that said that by 2010 at least 50% of call center workers would be working at home at least two days a week. Certainly remote agents became even more commonplace in 2007, but is this happening at the rate you'd expect?

Landoline: That one is pretty much on track. The concept is catching on very quickly. I expect this to take off and be near 50% by 2010.





Denis Pombriant, founder and managing principal of Beagle Research Group: A year ago, you predicted that 2007 would be a major year for SaaS. Did that happen as expected?

Pombriant: I think it did. I don't have any hard data on it, but one of the things I've looked at is the language SaaS is being provided in. and newcomers Microsoft and SAP are [all] offering their products in many languages. None of these companies does things for fun, so I think that is a good indication that on-demand is spreading across the world. It makes sense, because in many markets they need a low-cost option.

I think all year we were waiting for the NetSuite IPO. [There was the] Dec. 19 auction, but it was kind of surprising that it took so long to materialize. What do you foresee in the coming year?

Pombriant: One of the big trends that is going to continue is Sales 2.0. A lot of Sales 2.0 has a strong marketing element. So I think it will be a good time for software companies [that specialize] in marketing.

There is also a new market forming around the GRC market. GRC is a back-end kind of application, but it potentially touches all aspects of how a company operates – HR, IT finance procurements. It includes things like audit trails and segregation of duties. Next year will be a breakout year -- $8 billion [will be spent on GRC].

The idea of platforms might [also] gain momentum. "Platform" really refers to the stack of technologies that an application is based on, starting with the operating system and the database, but increasingly we are seeing [the term] platform applied to a stack of solutions, like "marketing platforms." We may see more vendors starting to use the world platform to keep current.






John Ragsdale, vice president of research at the Service & Support Professionals Association (SSPA):John Ragsdale, vice president of research at the Service & Support Professionals Association (SSPA): The SSPA's 2006 Technology Spending survey estimated that $565 million would be spent on CRM-related technology in North America in 2007. Do you have data from the 2007 survey yet? Do you think spending was that high?

Ragsdale: I just completed the survey, so it won't go out until mid-January. As far as spending goes, there were positives and negatives in 2007.

There was more spending than we expected in online communities, discussion forms, etc. A year ago, I felt like I was shoving [Web 2.0 down people's] throats. I had pushback from people saying, "I'm not seeing the Web 2.0 movement to being important for enterprise technology." This year Web 2.0 crossed over.

There were some stalls in spending. We had no idea the financial services crash was going to happen. [The SSPA has] a lot of members that are high-tech that rely on spending from financial services. A year ago, you said you expected more companies to adopt click-to-call technology in 2007. Did this play out as expected?

Ragsdale: I'm always on the lookout for the new channel. I thought click-to-call might be the new channel. I do think you are going to see more click-to-something [in the coming year], but companies are going to be smart about it and offer it to premier customers to make sure they are completing purchases. The point is to keep the customer in their preferred channel rather than making them pick up the phone.

The big fear [with implementing click-to-call] is the unknown about staffing -- you don't know how many people are going to click. If you turn on a click-to-call option and everyone chooses it, your volume goes through the roof. What other CRM technology trends should we expect in 2008?

Ragsdale: Discussion boards are going to be big [in 2008]. By the end of the year, if you don't have one it is going to impact customer service and loyalty.

Proactive support will also be important. Customers are starting to be very demanding. [It's not enough to solve their problem.] Companies are developing sophisticated ways of predicting when something's going to happen, and [some vendors are] delivering tech exactly to do that.

Read The CRM market in 2007, part 1 for more insight from Forrester's Bill Band, Strategic Contact's Lori Bocklund, DMG Consulting's Donna Fluss, and Sheryl Kingstone of The Yankee Group.

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