2021: The Year CRM Systems Take Over the World

28 Jan 2021

In his latest article, our MD talks about why he thinks 2021 is going to be the year CRM really takes over in the business world.

Businesses have had to change and adapt so much over the last 12 months and it’s only going to continue over the coming months and years.

But this year, 2021, is going to be the year when CRM goes from a nice “productivity booster” to an essential bit of business kit. Why do we think so? Well, you’ll have to read on to find out.

This article has also been published in East Anglia in Business, Business Direction, Business Comment, and Business Intelligence.

Ok…so taking over the world is a bit strong. But if 2020 has shown us anything, it’s that people and businesses can and will adapt to change, but they need the right tools.

And we think CRM systems are just one part of a whole toolbox that businesses will need over the next 12 months.

The challenges businesses face

COVID-19 and lockdown have been the biggest challenge most businesses have ever faced. The shutdowns and lockdowns have meant a workforce constantly in flux, never knowing exactly what the next day was going to bring.

But that workforce stepped up. They started working from home, learning new software and skills, and did everything they could to keep the economy (and their company) moving forward.

And, sad to say, it’s not over yet. 2021 is going to be another year of lockdowns and shutdowns.

As such, businesses have been spending the last several months making strategies and budgets to help them not only cope, but thrive over the coming year.

Setting a budget

Generally speaking, revenue for most businesses is down (or stagnant) compared to last year. But interestingly, about 85% of European businesses surveyed by SpiceWorks (for their State of IT survey) are planning on increasing or keeping their current IT spending budget.

Gartner backs this up, saying that IT spending decreased or stagnated in 2020, but looks to increase worldwide by a projected 4%. And enterprise software (including CRM) investment is expected to grow by 7.2%!!

John-David Lovelock, distinguished research vice president at Gartner, suggests that this spend is down to a combination of need and trust. Businesses need software to keep their business going (and hopefully to grow it). They saw how well Cloud-based software functioned throughout 2020, keeping their workforce productive.

Recognising the likelihood of continued disruption to “normal” ways of doing business, management teams all over the world are responding by planning their spending.

Making a strategy

This spending will, of course, not be made blindly or recklessly. Business leaders are looking to update their infrastructure and change business processes as a response to a change in the way we all work now.

Some businesses are talking about a permanent shift to remote working, either for their entire workforce or just selected individuals or teams. Others just want the option available for their disaster planning processes, recognising that, while remote working isn’t for them, there is a strong chance that future lockdowns will require it.

With all this in mind, you’re looking at about 49% of businesses looking to invest in software and/or cloud services, specifically to cater for this shift.

In shifting to a Cloud based software and system, there is a real focus both on the requirements of the team and the security of the systems being used. A recent survey by Flexera found that around 83% of businesses view security as their biggest concern when shifting to the Cloud.

And we can certainly back this up.

We’re seeing a change in the questions new potential customers are asking us during system demonstrations. People want to know more about the security of our system and infrastructure than ever before. Just as important they want to understand how to control access to their data using our permissions model as well.

We’ve also found that our existing customers are coming to us with plans to expand their use of CRM. They may be replacing an old system that was exclusively desk-based rather than in the Cloud. Or they’ve got departments who could do with being more efficient. Some have even added whole new processes to their business that need integrating to their CRM system.

CRM taking over the world?

One of the big trends that we as an industry are expecting over the next 12 months includes an increased adoption of customer service (or HelpDesk / Ticketing) systems. There’s also the expectation of an increase of focus on digital marketing.

Although there are standalone systems that will let you manage these specific needs, there is a real benefit to keeping them within a CRM system like OpenCRM.

The main win is the continuous flow of information between the people managing these systems and the rest of your team. Letting salespeople see whether someone has recently raised a ticket, asked a question, or just clicked on a link in a marketing email can help them tailor their next phone call.

And vice versa…if an agent on your customer service desk knows someone has recently signed an order or has an outstanding invoice, they can change their response to any complaint or question.

This kind of end-to-end solution is better for making sure your whole team is “singing from the same songsheet”…and can save your business money by saving time, reducing how many systems you are using and ultimately delivering better customer service.