We can never be truly happy with what we have. We’re always looking to the future.
“It’s great that they came out with something new, but what’s next?”
Can we just slow things down for a minute? No, we can’t. This is how the world works now.
When a new iPhone or Samsung phone comes out, we’re excited for a minute, and then we are on the internet looking to find out what they are planning for the next version.
The same can be said for CRM software. It’s exciting to see new products, releases, and upgrades, but soon after that, we’re wondering what they’re planning for the next release. We’re always looking for something that will change the way we do business. Something that will make us look at customer relationship management from a new perspective.
So, What is the Next Big Thing in CRM?
Maybe we should say, next big things… meaning more than just one. I’ve been hearing more and more about AI and machine learning, but there are some other things that keep popping up in my searches as well. When you look at these, you’ll probably say, “These are not new to CRM,” and you’re right. While they are not new, the question should be, “What will have the biggest impact going forward?”
A Few Things That Could Have a Big Impact on CRM
1. Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning, and Predictive Analytics
Salesforce already has Einstein, which is built into their CRM. Einstein is a layer of artificial intelligence that delivers predictions and recommendations based on the unique business processes and customer data your company has stored in CRM.
This October (2018), Microsoft is releasing new AI and mixed reality business applications for Dynamics 365.
Those are just two of the larger CRM companies though. Many CRM companies are realizing that AI is going to be an important part of how we manage our customer relationships. The data companies collect is continually growing and there’s only so much data that a person can sift through and make sense of. With AI a CRM can notice similarities, predict trends in a customer’s behavior, and offer suggestions on actions that should be taken.
A business can have tons of data and not be able to do anything with it. We need AI to clean and sort that data and help us see the information that is most important to us. By analyzing past sales and customer interactions, AI should be able to guide us towards the opportunities with the best potential.
I feel this is just a small piece of the pie though. There is so much more that we will continue to learn and build upon with AI, machine learning, and predictive analytics.
I know, CRMs are already mobile. I feel like we’ve only just begun though. The ability for our employees to do everything that they can do sitting at their desk in the office while on the go, is so important. Every year, more and more people have smartphones. People are always on their phones (even when they shouldn’t be). In the last 5 years, I’ve seen the percent of website traffic from mobile devices double.
Being able to communicate with our customers on the go is important. It’s also important to be able to do the rest of our job when we’re not in the office. New apps for mobile devices are built every day that allow us to do more on our phones and tablets. With the ability to view data and make decisions in the field we’re constantly increasing the speed and efficiency of our businesses. Which is exactly what we need to do in order to keep up with today’s customers that want everything yesterday.
3. Wearable Devices (Wearable Tech)
I’ve actually read a couple articles about wearable devices being the next big thing. Part of me wants to agree with that claim, but in some ways, it just seems like another unnecessary step from mobile devices. I feel like they are just an extension of phones and tablets. If we have people in the field with phones and tablets is it necessary for them to also have a wearable device? Will there ever be a time where it would make more sense or be more convenient for them to have CRM information through a wearable device rather than a phone or tablet? I also have to imagine that the number of things you can actually do with a wearable device is limited compared to a phone or tablet. I understand that things will change over time, but I can’t see them changing that much (it’s still a small device). The only thing I can say is that voice recognition is only to get better and we’ll be able to do more and more… which could allow us to do more through wearable devices.
I can’t wait to look back at this article in a few years and be proven wrong. At this time, I still do not own a wearable device. I’m considering getting a watch that syncs with my phone. It’s taken me years to find an actual reason to get one… and it’s not even a great reason. When I mow the lawn, I want to have something that notifies me when someone is calling (since I can never feel my phone vibrating in my pocket). That’s it. That’s all I need it for.
Reminder: This is All Speculation
I have to remind people of this because we never truly know what is going to be the next big thing. Something could come along in the next 6 months and completely change the CRM landscape. When I was doing some research, I came across a few articles from 5-6 years ago. They were calling “Full-Box CRM” the next big thing. What is Full-Box CRM? Apparently, it’s a CRM system that comes fully loaded with customers (leads, contacts, etc.) that are relevant to your business. It sounds crazy to me, but apparently, this was (is still?) a thing. As you can imagine, doing a search on “Full-Box CRM” gives me results from 5-6 years ago. It seems that nobody is talking about it anymore. If it is still “a thing” I’m pretty sure it never became the next “big thing”.
So, when I talk about wearable devices possibly being the next big thing, I have to wonder if any of these devices could be the next Google Glass. Although, apparently Google Glass still exists (I had no clue).
Maybe the next big thing in CRM will be that everyone goes back to talking on the phone. You know, instead of texting, and email, and everything else you can do on social media to communicate. I don’t think that will ever happen though… I recently watched a talk given by Gary Vaynerchuk (don’t know him? Look him up), and he talked about how annoying it was to get phone calls. He asked the audience to raise their hands if they get annoyed when someone calls them instead of texting them. The majority of the audience raised their hands.
If I had to put my money on something, I would put it on AI. It’s going to change how we look at data, how we receive it, and how we interact with it. All of us are interacting with AI on a daily basis and we don’t even realize it. Amazon asks me if I want to buy these other two things because I bought something else (other people were buying it, so why not me?). When I take a picture on my phone, Google uses facial recognition and asks me if I want to share that photo with the people in it (stop stalking me Google!). Hey, it’s a crazy world, why not make it even crazier?
What are your thoughts on the future of CRM? What is the next big thing? Let us know in the comments… or just say hello! We’d love to hear from you!