What does the CRM of 2015 look like? Contact management with a mobile app, maybe some analytics, and integration with email? Throw in some pipeline visualizations and a couple of dashboards, and you've got yourself a modern day CRM app.
Like with a lot of business software, however, CRMs tend to lag behind when it comes to innovation, preferring instead to stick to flash-free features that literally 'get the job done'.
But what if a CRM application were to embrace the technology of the near future to create something truly customer-focused? Believe it or not, the stuff of the 'future' is slowly creeping its way into the present, and the potential in a field like CRM is huge.
Between smartphone holograms, augmented reality, so-called 'huge' data, and virtual assistants, the CRM of 2020 could lead the way in innovation for business apps. Here's how:
Mobile apps are a necessity for any CRM, but the CRM of 2020 could take the mobile concept a stage further with holograms. The technology for hologram-equipped phones has already made waves with the 2015 CES Innovation Award, and unlike 3D technology, it lets you see a full 360-degree view of a projection without using any special glasses or other fancy add-ons.
What use could this have for a CRM? Imagine being able to see a visualization of your entire sales pipeline and its status, projected from your phone. Bonus: it could also replace your projector during meetings where you'll most certainly need to reference your pipeline.
Visualizations won't stop at holograms. Augmented reality made one of its first appearances in the mainstream market with Google Glass, but its potential in five years could see something much more discreet: smart contact lenses. Google itself has already taken on the challenge by creating a contact lense with a built-in camera that could live stream data to your phone and give you details about what you're seeing.
If you're meeting with a client, for example, facial recognition could pull up all your previous interactions and give you a type of play-by-play whereby you know everything about the client before they even open their mouth.
If you're working with a physical product, augmented reality can go even further, with apps that show your customer what a product will look like before they purchase it. An app called Augment that's already on the market is being advertised as the 'the augmented reality apps that drives sales', providing 3D simulations of your product for potential customers.
According to Extreme Tech, the term 'big data' is no longer sufficient to cover the vast amount of information that's being collected about people and their online activities. Enter 'huge data', a phrase that hopes to encompass the sheer volume of data that's becoming more and more useful through things like wearables and other IoT connected devices.
When this huge data is incorporated into a CRM, it could use previous interactions to predict what your customers need, when they need it, and how best to get it to them.
Imagine a customer owning a pair of your company's running shoes, along with a health app that tracks their movement. Knowing that the shoes will last them 500 miles, and clocking their mileage at 490, they can be notified of the need for a new pair, to be delivered (within days) to the address stored on record. All this, with barely any human intervention in the process.
When it comes to the bigger picture, all this data can go as far as becoming a decision-making tool for a company.
Along the same lines, a virtual assistant like Siri, Cortana, or Google Now that could segment and pull up all this 'huge' data could become indispensable. With the potential of voice assistants using sentiment analysis and natural language processing to gauge both the tone and the context of what you're asking for, your 'assistant' could effectively rifle through this 'huge' data in a snap.
And because voice assistants will become less robotic, you can discard the formality of saying 'OK Google' and simply ask something like "can you pull up our three largest accounts due for a renewal at the end of the quarter". Just like that, you could have your top three accounts projected via hologram from your phone.
Most business apps are pretty slow to the innovation game. The first step was a move to the cloud, and slowly, a move to mobile. While most proper CRMs are now equipped with a mobile app, there's still some lag when it comes to design and usability.
If CRMs are willing to embrace the future and try something a bit more daring, there's a potential for them to lead the way in business app innovation that benefits the employee and the customer.
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