The Future is Now for CRM: AI, IoT and Micro Apps on Deck

by Ian Campbell April 5, 2016
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Perhaps no application in the industry has evolved more over the past 15 years than CRM. An increasingly sharpened and sustained focus on the customer experience has driven this. Where other applications continue to compete on cloud advantages, mobile features and usability, CRM vendors are racing toward micro apps, the Internet of Things (IoT), and artificial intelligence.

The promise of micro apps is clear. These are single-purpose apps within a more complex application. They can provide current weather info or help automate a form, for example. This means you can develop small apps quickly without IT support, spin them out for various projects, and iteratively change them as needed with relatively little time or cost. This dramatically expands ROI opportunities for CRM, allowing you to build functionality and deploy with far less risk or cost.

Within CRM micro apps can simplify customer authentication, which is often seen as an experience pain point. Disposable apps that support a seasonal or one-time event are part of this. We started talking about disposable apps in our 2016 Predictions last fall, and more than one CRM vendor is already making them a reality. Development of disposable apps for CRM could help businesses get very nimble around sales promotions, campaigns, and holiday activities. Anything from customized seasonal greetings to special offers based on active participation in a sales program, for example.

Today many vendors are talking about IoT but, in reality, few customers have successfully deployed applications – and many of the projects that are being implemented are experimental in nature. There are clear risks to sustaining a positive customer experience when you introduce automation and data-driven workflows, and mistakes will be made. However, vendors know successes will put them ahead of the pack, so they’re willing to take on some of the risk with their customers.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are buzzwords on everyone’s CRM data sheet today but in reality their impact on CRM is still limited. It’s also the area with the greatest opportunity for additional ROI from CRM. As we see more vendors moving toward the ‘Dark Cockpit’ principles of using the intelligence of the software to simplify, focus, automate, and coach users to greater productivity and effectiveness, clear winners will differentiate their strategies with embedded analytics that really move the needle.

When you combine AI, IoT and micro/disposable apps together, you see how CRM can be radically transformed with richer data, better processes and a greater ability to tailor the customer experience. That’s not to say that every CRM vendor will realize payback on investments in these future-looking technologies. In fact, the risk is higher than ever. But as the poster child of cloud computing, this industry understands the great upside to early adoption of emerging technologies. CRM has never been more exciting.

For more info, see the latest CRM Value Matrix