I have seen well written articles about the future of CRM like this post but I don’t view the world of CRM through this narrow lens. And, I personally believe that Salesforce is well on its way to being a $10 Billion dollar company with a winning platform. You don’t disrupt a winner by doing what it does A much more interesting question is – what is the future of customer relationship management?
While there are many interesting CRM startups, I believe that the future of CRM is already here – we just don’t recognize it. As the famous quote from William Gibson says – The Future is already here – its just not very evenly distributed.
Let me illustrate this by example:
Uber is CRM: If you think about what Uber is doing – its helping taxi drivers and customers connect with each other in real-time, conduct the transaction and manage the relationship including the feedback loop. While Uber is clearly a “taxi app” – it can also be thought of as the perfect CRM tool for its chosen market.
Simple is CRM: Simple is a not so widely known banking app. Its mobile app that is your bank. You can manage all aspects of your relationship with the bank via this app. While most leading banks now have a banking app, Simple is taking it to the logical extreme.
AirBnB is CRM: If you are renting a vacation home, you and and the homeowner are now in a relationship that must be managed from booking the home to taking care of paperwork. AirBnB is a complete CRM because it allows you and the homeowner to manage all aspects of your relationship.
Trulia is CRM: If you are a real-estate agent, the Trulia app combined with its recent acquisition of Market Leader is the end to end CRM system.
OpenTable is CRM: If you are a restaurant owner, you manage your customer relationship starting with reservations via OpenTable.
Traditional CRM systems like Siebel have focused on automating the sales process typically in a business to business setting. And the modern CRM companies have greatly improved that experience but managing a relationship with a customer goes beyond converting an opportunity – it goes to truly managing the lifecyle of your relationship with the customer.
Note how the businesses using Trulia, OpenTable, AirBnB are not even in the market for “CRM”. This is what real disruption looks like.
CRM is inherently vertical if you want to automate and optimize not just the lead to quote process or better run a call center but to truly help businesses manage the relationship with their customers. When you are renting a hotel room – booking the room is core your relationship with the hotel; when you are dealing with a car dealership the auto repair experience is at the core of your relationship. Its not sufficient to simply keep your contact information – the so-called 360 degree view of the customer is often just a collection of records how the business has interacted with the customer. You want a 360 degree interaction – not just a view. This means businesses will increasingly look for applications that help them interact with their customers better – and as this interaction moves to mobile (from phone calls and web), the CRM systems will manifest them as the app.
I see a whole new generation of mobile apps that are the next generation of CRM for doctors, restaurants, car dealers, pharma companies, taxi drivers.