In early 2000s, cloud hosting created a shift in how we implement business operations including CRM. But it was not a disruptive technology that resulted in massive business transformation, one that could have ended on-premise CRM. Instead, cloud deployment was more of a technical decision than a CRM strategy for both small business and large enterprise; the technical team weighed in the pros and cons, while the business and marketing teams didn’t particularly mind how CRM was implemented as long as they could use it to expand the business.
But things may change soon.
Three elements are converging that may convince on-premise users to shift to Cloud 2.0 CRM or a vendor provided unified web-based data sharing ecosystem accessed by both employees and customers:
In the history of CRM software, cloud technology is just one of the technological impacts on CRM software, but today’s Internet infrastructure will make cloud the biggest impact, if it isn’t yet (social media is built on cloud after all).
Cloud 2.0 CRM will link today’s cloud CRM infrastructure with various devices (PCs/laptops, smartphones, tablets) across different operating systems (iOS, Android, Mac/Windows) and on top of social apps (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.). The new cloud system will work anytime, anywhere, online or offline not only catch B2B or B2C customers, but engage them to a new level. Next generation cloud apps have the ability to assign and process information and transactions based on a basic building block of username/password log-on system. In the future, we expect CRM review comparison for the best or top software will revolve mostly around web based or cloud hosted services.
Traditional on-premise and cloud hosted CRM are designed for employees to get business insights in their markets. Flexibility and real-time data are the main benefits. Sales, marketing and other staff can tap customer information data anywhere, anytime to follow or close leads, create quick quotes and create market projections, among others.
On the other hand, cloud 2.0 will be equally driven by consumers. Newer cloud hosted CRM software will give access to customers so they can leverage their social networks to spread the word about your brand and invite more customers into your business. In short, cloud 2.0 will factor in the power of brand ambassadorship through your and customer social networks across various platforms (operating systems, devices, mobile vs. desktop, etc.).
Traditional cloud CRM gives you the flexibility to engage customers on location and real-time using a static mobile platform. It’s either you choose the mobile or desktop channels depending if you’re in the field or at the office or home.
On the other hand, responsive XML technology lets Cloud 2.0 CRM to adapt to different mobile platforms and specific locations while maintaining customer engagement. You can identify the location and device of customers who are engaging you online. Instead of seeing a static front-end, customers will get an adaptive interface based on their device and place. For instance, a customer using her iPhone to buy a skirt in Seattle will get your iOS webstore interface that is linked to your warehouse or nearest retail store in Washington. The adaptability extends to your end, too. You can access her purchase data through cloud even if you’re using an Android or Windows PC.
With cloud 2.0, CRM will be transformed from an expense into a revenue earner. Here’s how—current online CRM is used primarily as a tool for employees to gain market insights to gain more business. In short, it’s an operating expense. On the other hand, cloud 2.0 CRM will also allow customers to access your CRM infrastructure at different engagement levels: as a brand ambassador, repeat buyer or new buyer. Cloud 2.0 CRM is closely tied up with your e-commerce suite; thus, it becomes a revenue channel even as it continues to provide your employees with analytics tools.
Traditional cloud CRM automates business processes that speed up customer transactions. But it still requires you to fire up the entire process. In other words, you still need to follow leads before you can automate a sales funnel or listen to customer signals to respond appropriately and influence their decisions.
With cloud 2.0 CRM, the initial engagement may be entirely skipped in some cases. Since it is in part customer-driven, adaptive and integrated to your webstore, customers can pitch for your brand via their social network and influence other customers to buy or engage you at once online, thereby setting your CRM to respond promptly with automated processes. Think of the newer CRM system like an opt-in subscription form with an autoresponder, a campaign ticket that searches for customers across the vast ocean of social networks to opt them in the funnel, all connected to your e-commerce site. Your new CRM can work a hundred times faster than automation.
On-premise or enterprise CRM will be hardest hit by the scalability of cloud 2.0. The huge influx of customer user data, digital signals and multiple device access points will require huge mainframes, security, application delivery and 24/7 service that cloud vendors and a few conglomerate giants can easily meet. Huge on-premise architecture capitalization will convince many companies to shift to cloud CRM, where the cost is spread out among subscribers and, thus, scaled down to manageable operating expense levels.
Cloud 2.0 CRM will put customers in front of your CRM strategy. They will be calling the shots. It is both exciting and uneasy for companies. Exciting because you can address customers’ concerns accurately and immediately, and uneasy because failure to do so can spell a disaster. Companies with strong CRM culture will welcome this new development to further solidify their relationships; while those with dismal CRM will be selected out of this business evolutionary process.
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