Market for Social CRM Is on Pace to Surpass $1 Billion in Revenue by Year-End 2012

The worldwide social customer relationship management (CRM) market is forecast to reach over $1 billion in revenue by year-end 2012, up from approximately $625 million in 2010, according to Gartner, Inc. Worldwide social CRM is projected to total $820 million in 2011.

However, analysts said spending by buyers on social software for marketing, customer service and sales increased by 40 per cent in 2010, but social CRM remained less than 5 per cent of the total CRM application market. More than 100 vendors have social CRM offerings. Most are not profitable and generate annual revenue of less than $1 million.

“Use by consumers accounts for over 90 per cent of spending on social CRM, but spending on business to business (B2B) use is growing faster and will account for 30 per cent of total social CRM spending by 2015,” said Adam Sarner, research director at Gartner. “The market will continue its rapid consolidation throughout 2011. Previously, social vendors acquired each other. Now, business application vendors and outsourcers have started to add capabilities through acquisitions.”

Most vendors remain relatively small and unprofitable, although many grew 50 to 100 per cent in 2010. In order to thrive in the future, analysts said that social CRM vendors will need to provide clear benefits for companies and communities, demonstrating multiple use cases for sales, marketing and customer service processes.

“Until recently, many companies have treated social CRM as a series of experiments and tactical purchases. Few have a social CRM strategy or established metrics to measure its effect on hard business results. Different departments, employees and managers implement different types of applications for different purposes,” Mr Sarner said. “This lack of consistency among buyers keeps the market fragmented into at least three segments — sales, marketing and customer service — with many small vendors taking various approaches to address one area, approach or use case. The majority of vendors that survive and thrive in the mid-term will offer tools that can address multiple use cases in more than one department.”

Today’s vendors differentiate themselves on the basis of functions, process workflow, analytics and ease of use or superior experience delivered through professional services. The functions that social CRM vendors offer tend to reflect one of four typical starting points:

Hosting and supporting a branded or private-label community, and providing the surrounding functions
Monitoring, listening to, surveying and responding to private-label or independent social networks
Facilitating the sharing of B2B or business to consumer (B2C) contacts through communities
Establishing community product reviews largely to facilitate online sales

“Vendors who can assemble a full set of social CRM functions, and make progress in two or more of these areas, will be best positioned for market success as the market matures,” Mr Sarner said. “Over time, vendors will find it harder to gain an advantage by providing unique core functions for social CRM.”

Four other factors will also differentiate vendors:
Seamless interoperation between public social networks and internal collaborative communities
Integration of processes with traditional, operational CRM applications, such as multichannel campaign management, a customer service knowledgebase or a sales lead application
Application-specific analytics to help prove the ROI of the social CRM application
Partnerships with global system integrators, or digital or interactive agencies and consultants, to promote and deploy the applications

Gartner analysts said that R&D in social CRM will centre on five areas: (1) deeper integration with traditional CRM processes; (2) tools to measure ROI; (3) deeper integration with social network services — particularly Facebook and Twitter; (4) increased use of analytics; and (5) new use cases for social CRM.

“The need for integration will favor more-traditional CRM vendors that add social capabilities. Integration did not matter much when organisations were just experimenting with social CRM,” Mr Sarner said. “However, companies are asking for the integration of social data with other customer data within sales, marketing and customer service processes, which will require the integration of social CRM with applications such as a knowledgebase for customer service, multichannel campaign management, sales force automation or e-commerce, web content and Web analytic applications, master data management, and even back-office applications.”

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