There’s been much debate this year about more firms getting into the “cloud”, and with that, porting customer relationship management systems (CRM).
The impact and the global market for CRM is said to be so strong that the world’s leading technology advisory firm, Gartner, recently stated CRM will be a market worth $36bn by 2017. This prediction also aligns with its analysis of new business scenarios built around what it terms the ‘Nexus of Forces’ – social, mobile, information, and cloud.
The Power of Cloud CRM
CRM is already an essential element which helps organizations, of all sizes, deliver against business objectives, and bridge the gap between sales and marketing teams. The availability and rise of cloud CRM allows firms to think about alternative options to traditional on-site solutions.
The energy and attention devoted to on-site CRM has, up until recently, factored into appraising and installing CRM software. However, with trends moving toward cloud technologies firms no longer have to create a fixed, “physical” IT infrastructure and network.
Put simply, cloud CRM allows all of your company data to be saved, stored, and accessed via the Internet; enabled using a single server or distributed servers.
More Businesses Move To The Cloud
It’s not as though companies aren’t aware of the route to the cloud as a business model – it’s been around for nearly six years. The cloud is, in fact, going through a second iteration.
A survey by the Poneman Institute for Thales e-Security found “more than 54 per cent of the 4,025 business and IT managers polled were already sending sensitive data to the cloud, and 31% of those from within seven global countries expect to do so in the next two years.” Additionally, a new study on cloud computing, by CompTIA’s Fourth Annual Trends In Cloud Computing, found 90 per cent of firms polled have some presence in the Cloud.
Broad operational benefits from doing business in the cloud are applicable across the board — whether for a startup or small business. Here are just a few advantages of utilizing cloud-based CRM services.
- Agility: Gain a competitive edge with the ability to give employees access to information which, in turn, can speed up projects
- Cost savings: Adopting a software as a service (Saas) model can save money on IT infrastructure budgets
- Resourcing: Projects can be finished more quickly allowing staff to skill up in other areas of the business; providing increased business value
- Elasticity: Resources can be deployed and re-provisioned in real-time in line with appropriate workloads
- Access to new markets: Strategically access new markets or niches by tapping into the savings brought about by decreased IT infrastructure costs.
7 Business Gains Associated with Cloud CRM Services
Utilizing cloud-based CRM services can become a business gamechanger. Here are at least seven business advantages which amplify the above-mentioned “umbrella” benefits.
- Immediate “Savings” Benefits: With no need for infrastructure, networking and complicated set up instead, pay as you go and eliminate upfront costs. Often, employees can be trained quickly and projects can be deployed and shared over the internet. As a result, your budget is maximized in two major cost centers: IT labor and management.
- User-Driven Customization: With the infrastructure lacking there’s no need to predetermine customization per user. With less customisation offered by CRM cloud providers, and pre-built flexibility, this activity is handed to the end-user who can add logos, personal messages, and adapt the user experience where they see fit.
- 24/7/365 Accessibility: When data stored is stored in the cloud, sales and marketing teams can access it directly any time they want, from anywhere. This can add a real edge to virtual workforces and multinational teams; providing easy access that scales as your business grows.
- Increased Productivity: Utilizing a single cloud-based CRM application means you can literally enable employees to work without being tied and tethered to an office desk, desktop, or office servers. Instead, employees can contact customers and prospects on-the-go and mine for real-time data. By delivering more actionable and frequent customer insights, employees can increase productivity across the board.
- Sync with Mobile and BYOD Trends: The cloud supports any business that wishes to move into the realm of data mobility and harness a mobile device management strategy. Employees are now able to conduct business faster and more intelligently when armed with smart devices out in the field. Most importantly, they can access customer contacts through a mobile CRM app and respond with agility.
- Actionable Customer Information: Your sales and marketing teams no longer need to wait for records and access systems based around onsite servers. Cloud-based CRM gives you the ability to get faster, quicker, more precise and frequent information on where the customer is in the purchase lifecycle.
- Structured Data and Automated Sales Force Cloud-based CRM services can structure customer data to indicate what a customer is doing, what they like, and when they are likely to buy. This information shares better insights and through this knowledge your team can act with necessary tactics and speed.
The role of cloud-based CRM should be taken seriously as a strategic business enabler. It’s likely that businesses with an eye on the future will start to look for the right partners which can make cloud CRM happen, and in doing so fuel their competitive edge.
Laura Abrar developed her career in PR and communications for leading global technology brands, as well as in digital marketing for SMEs in the United Kingdom.