· 2 min read · Features

Predictions for cloud-based business in 2015

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Greg Bohlen, strategy practice lead at Appirio shares his predictions for cloud and CRM tools in 2015.

Next year I predict businesses and the wider cloud industry will demand more competitiveness; we want businesses to realise that transformation via cloud services needn’t take several years to achieve. 2015 should see a demand for knowing what you want within your enterprise and realising how cloud can be the best route to get there.

The nature of business is changing

Today business users demand more of a consumer-centric experience with digital applications, particularly on mobile devices. This is due to the nature of the work people are doing on mobile. With employees working anywhere, anytime, transactions are more frequent but shorter on mobile devices. Therefore CRM apps need to be simple and intuitive, to allow rapid access and update of client data and activities.

Businesses need to start simple with CRM; 2015 should be a year of 'back to basics', since many organisations are currently over-burdening sales staff with requests for information that isn’t easily retrievable. At the moment processes are too complicated, there are too many forms for sales and marketing teams to process and, as a result, information isn’t being used effectively.

IT departments and the C-suite want to know what the value is for using cloud-based tools. In an economy emerging from a recession, gone are the days where businesses will invest blindly. What we will see in 2015 is IT investments becoming more robust in terms of proving results. Real-time analytics are therefore crucial in helping businesses decide where to invest money, as they need to see what they’ll be getting back.

Clarifying CRM benefits; analytics and tools

Few organisations have fully leveraged CRM and the wealth of enterprise data. Reports from fragmented systems reside offline and are often incomplete or out-of-date by the time they’ve been constructed. Management in particular have a ready-made excuse not to use CRM as the data they need to run their territories is not totally contained in the tool.

It has traditionally been difficult to monitor trends within CRM as the tool sets offer snapshot views only. However, businesses are increasingly looking to predict outcomes rather than simply use CRM as a rear view mirror. In 2015 analytics tools such as Salesforce.com’s Wave capability to uncover historical CRM trends will enable organisations to test hypotheses and run predictive modelling. This will help them to understand why they’re seeing specific results, and equip them to adapt their sales strategy accordingly.

Talent enablement: crowdsourcing

Companies previously found it difficult to react to CRM insights. They may have a rich history of client transactions, but the ability to change the way they go to market is harder since the client journey became more digital. Recent research by the Corporate Executive Board highlights that almost 60% of client journeys are now done online before the first sales interaction.

The benefit of using crowdsourcing in these instances is organisations avoid the costly and time-consuming task of recruiting and the subsequent on-boarding processes for specialist digital experience roles.

While sceptics might not agree with crowdsourcing, it can offer a chance to build confidence and realise abilities of your in-house teams, as they see how crowdsourcing can support projects from beginning to end. It can be revelatory in seeing what does and doesn’t work on a testing base approach. This will become increasingly crucial in years to come given the shorter and shorter timelines set by customers.

Ultimately, organisations need to adapt and utilise tools that will enable the best use of information and talent – bringing in external experts to build a powerful campaign that might be more successful than using traditional models. Businesses think and act like consumers, with higher digital expectations that are being applied to CRM databases and an expectation that if they’re using cloud, it has to be for the right (results-driven) reasons.

Greg Bohlen is strategy practice lead at global services provider Appirio