06/12/18The CRM trends to expect in 2019

2019 promises to be an exciting year in the CRM sector. We asked our CRM expert Mircea Prelipceanu to have a look at the impact on the market.

Mr. Prelipceanu, as CRM expert and Head of International Sales at CAS CRM, you closely follow developments on the CRM market. What can we expect to see in the CRM field in 2019?
Artificial Intelligence, smart assistants and automated processes will become a larger part of any professional CRM solution. This enables us to even better support our customers in their sales, marketing and services activities. And the handling of current issues such as data protection and data security – particularly with regard to the EU General Data Protection Regulation, mobility and secure Cloud CRM – will also become more powerful thanks to new technologies and user interfaces. Another area that will become increasingly relevant is the need to create "digital relationships", including through the use of marketing automation. Specifically among SMEs in the mechanical and plant engineering sector, we realize a steady rise in demand for product and quote configurators integrated into CRM solutions.

We here in the editorial team are currently also seeing how focus on "Configure – Price – Quote" has been increasing. What's behind that trend?
The significance of it is quite simply based on the increased possibilities that digital connectivity and transparency now offers businesses. At the same time, competitive pressures have intensified. Businesses looking to become more customer-centric and successfull need to engage existing customers, and convert leads into sales, with tailored offers. A Configure – Price – Quote module integrated into CRM solutions helps in creating timely, accurate offers for products tailored to individual customers' needs and wishes. This provides a key competitive edge, and lays the foundations for creating positive emotional responses and retaining loyalty throughout the customer journey.

Marketing automation is also a hot topic. What impact does it have on communications with customers?
A strong cross-media dialog enables you to better meet your customers’ information needs, target them directly and thus meet them on an individual level. With integrated marketing automation tools, businesses can communicate in a consistent and customer-centric way: New leads can be systematically pre-qualified. Lead nurturing converts leads into customers on the basis of tailored marketing and promotional campaigns. In this way, leads are provided with exactly the right information tailored to their individual requirements throughout the customer lifecycle – such as white papers, product information, webinars and training courses. Prospectives are thus guided more efficiently to a desired product and in the process become loyal customers.

What influence will Artificial Intelligence have on Customer Relationship Management?
Digital assistants and Artificial Intelligence will doubtless be employed more and more in sales, service and marketing. A great example that we are already seeing today is "Picasso Search", which we launched with our latest popular standard CRM solution. Inspired by the famous quotation from Pablo Picasso: "I do not search, I find", the digital assistant provides a guiding hand through the day, highlighting individual key appointments, documents, opportunities, tasks and contacts without the user actively having to search for them.

How do you see trends in Cloud solutions, and the acceptance of them, progressing in 2019?
Demand for Cloud-based CRM products is high – and rising! The key factors for SMEs are ease of operation, intuitive design, and digital sovereignty. But how secure is my customer data, and where is it stored? Our new Cloud-based software SmartWe is a response to that need. Awarded the title "Software made & hosted in Germany", and winner of the German Design Award 2018, SmartWe combines secure access with a cleverly user-friendly app-in-app design concept based on CAS SmartDesign® technology.

Since the EU General Data Protection Regulation came into force in May, businesses have had their hands full implementing it. How do you see data protection developing in future?
CRM is, and will remain in future, a key compliance tool. The measures required to assure successful implementation must be assessed individually from company to company. We offer assistance with a CRM guide on the subject of data protection for example. It sets out the points that need to be considered. And the CRM solutions also provide functions to aid compliance with data protection requirements, such as deletion deadlines and automatic deletion of data records. However, in the future as today, data protection should be regarded as an opportunity for a win-win dialog with the customer, not as a risk factor.

You recently marked a major CRM milestone on the CAS Campus in Karlsruhe. Such an accomplishment offers the opportunity to look back – and also forward?
CAS genesisWorld has been on the market for 20 years. Back in 1998, Bill Clinton was still US President, and Windows 98 was state of the art. We have since seen incredible improvements and a rapid spread of digital technologies. CRM – and also xRM – is now firmly established, and does not generally have to be explained any more. At the same time, customers' needs and expectations are changing continually. There is indeed a huge potential for SMEs in this area!

Where exactly do you see unexploited potential for businesses and their customer relationships?
According to data from the German Federal Statistical Office, only 46% of companies are using CRM, and just 26% analyze their customer data. In line with the Customer Centricity approach, successful businesses strive to get to know their customers, thus being able to align their products, services and all relevant touchpoints to the customer. Our aim is to provide SMEs with future-oriented solutions, enabling them to utilize the opportunities offered by digital transformation at an early stage and engage their customers on an emotional basis as "fans", with the aid of software which supports them in focusing on, and understanding, their customers.

Thank you, Mircea Prelipceanu, for peering into your crystal ball and giving us your insights. We look forward eagerly to seeing what 2019 will bring.

About Mircea Prelipceanu
Mircea Prelipceanu is Head of International Sales at CAS Software AG – one of Europe’s leading suppliers of CRM solutions for small and medium-sized enterprises. More than 400,000 people in over 20,000 companies enjoy the benefits of CAS CRM: a powerful standard solution, flexible to meet the customer’s needs, great ergonomics, proven and awarded in practice and excellent value for money. CAS Software has received many prizes, among those the Top Innovator of the Year 2018 and Employer of the Year 2016.