bpm’online 2018 Predictions: 3 CRM Trends to Accelerate Transformation and Foster Innovation in 2018 : @VMblog

Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2018. Read them in this 10th annual VMblog.com series exclusive.

Contributed by Matt Tharp, Chief Evangelist at bpm’online

2018 is almost here and it’s going to be both promising and challenging for businesses trying to deliver delightful customer experiences to digital-first audiences. Here is our take on the 3 biggest trends that will shape the CRM market in 2018.

Going beyond data alignment to organizational alignment

CRM solutions have been primarily focused on digitalization of customer-facing processes and activities. These applications are often single function oriented, creating not only data silos but process and organizational silos as well. One of the biggest challenges companies face in the midst of digital transformation is understanding how to truly become more customer-centric. Customer centricity is not only a data problem but requires aligning processes and data flows in ways that align customer expectations with organizational goals. Leveraging intelligent tools can empower teams to use this data and apply valuable knowledge to devise exceptional customer experiences.

According to recent research, companies with aligned departments enjoyed a 38% higher sales win rate and become 67% better at closing deals. The right data and insights are key to a successful alignment of marketing and sales teams.

AI accessibility will provide deeper insight into customer behaviors

IDC predicts that AI in CRM will increase global revenues by $1.1 trillion between 2017 and 2021. However, organizations expecting AI to be a “set it and forget it” purchase are in for a reality check. Using AI-powered applications can also help direct teams to the most productive leads and opportunities, but also improve attribution of marketing activities to successful outcomes. This can deliver the best audience for every campaign and enable data-driven strategies to deliver the most relevant experience on any given channel – including sales. According to Yahoo Finance, 75% of companies identified “intelligence about prospects and customers as the most important tool to drive effective prospecting”. With all its benefits, AI makes it possible to create a synergy of marketing and sales that allows for delivering smarter and more streamlined customer experiences across all interactions through orchestrated processes and workflows across functional teams.

In the past, transactions were the only behavior most CRM systems could track. With more integrated CRM solutions, however, understanding more subtle behavior is increasingly possible. This enables AI technology to connect customer insights to various stages of the buying process, provide optimized omnichannel customer engagement. While CRMs have historically been limited to simple legacy reporting, AI will unlock insights necessary to engage each customer with the right offer based on context, behavior, and historical success patterns. AI will also augment customer engagement, automating the front line with chatbots. Understanding customers better and ensuring they get the right engagement to improve their lifetime value will become more science than art in 2018, thanks to AI.

Technology evolves to support ongoing transformation

Digital transformation reaches critical mass, as every industry now realizes it’s no longer optional. Most companies have gone through an initial phase of digitalization, typically focusing on multi-channel customer communications. However, digital transformation is a journey, not a destination; it is all about continuously evolving. In 2018, companies will shift to digitizing processes and operations through AI and machine learning to support rapid change and innovation – focusing on ongoing adaptation. They will realize that ability to support change and innovate is more about digital adaptation, not transformation. Leveraging a robust platform capable of handling an ongoing change and business scaling, as well as connecting and orchestrating workflows and processes across the organization, is a key criteria for successful digital transformation to enable organizations to ramp up innovation and adapt faster. It will also become a major shift from the highly focused, disconnected “stacks” that companies have been creating in recent years.

The bottom line

CRM unification and digital transformation have been buzzwords for years, but in 2018 companies will have to evolve by not only focusing on customer-facing engagement, but also creating better alignment to enable rapid, ongoing innovation and meet evolving customer expectations. AI in its turn will unlock more business resources and customer insights, while also improving the operations necessary to support an increasingly personal, customer centric business.


Matt Tharp, Chief Evangelist at Matthew brings more than a decade of experience in the CRM space, especially in the marketing automation field. As a marketer, designer and creative problem solver, Matthew is focused on innovating the way brands optimize their customer relationships and experiences across multiple channels. At bpm’online, Matthew is responsible for evangelizing bpm’online technologies and industry leading products. With extensive knowledge of product marketing and customer success, Matt has a great personality that allows him to build loyal and successful business relationships with customers, partners, local and national analysts, leaders and influencers, and other community members. Matthew’s background as an Advisor, VP of Customer Retention and Customer Experience covers successful communication automation projects on developing effective customer acquisition and revenue growth strategies for both B2b and B2C organizations. bpm’online


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