Planning for Technology in 2021: 5 CRM, ERP and MA Trends You Should Know About
Given how uncertain 2020 has been for companies in virtually every market and industry, the very idea of making predictions about 2021 may seem more than a little foolhardy. At the same time, this year has been surprisingly consistent with business technology adoption. Many existing and long-anticipated trends in customer relationship management (CRM), enterprise resource planning (ERP), and marketing automation (MA) actually met or exceeded the experts’ predictions in 2020.
From a planning and budgeting perspective, businesses now find themselves in an unexpectedly well-informed position to make smart strategic technology decisions for the next decade. Many companies quickly adapted to remote workplaces, learning how their current software was excelling and lagging.
In this article, we’re going to examine five of the most consistent tech trends in CRM, ERP, and MA. These trends may have started even before 2020, but continue to evolve. We can expect these trends will help to shape the future of customer relationships, business operations, and marketing for years to come.
Customer Experience (CX):
Most business technology is designed to be both highly specialized to a given role and as utilitarian as possible. They aren’t designed to be intuitive, to the point that even basic navigation within CRM and ERP platforms can be impossible for an untrained user. That’s a serious problem from a budget perspective, as it substantially increases training costs for employees. Not surprisingly, one of the biggest tech trends for 2021 is the development of improved and intuitive CX for CRM and ERP platforms. This not only makes these systems easier for sales and customer service agents to learn and use, but it also greatly reduces the cost of training new workers.
There’s nothing new about cloud-based business technology solutions, as it’s been a much-hyped selling point for modern ERP, CRM, and MA platforms for nearly a decade. That said, many business leaders didn’t fully appreciate the advantages of these always-available, internet-accessible business management systems until this year’s wave of shelter-in-place orders prevented millions of employees from making it into the office. If there’s a single lesson that 2020 has taught executives all over the world, it’s that if your business can be managed on a cloud-based platform, it probably should be.
Perhaps the least surprising trend on this list is the move toward widespread adoption of mobile-ready business technology. It’s hard to realize the benefits of a flexible, modern business structure if your office still relies on expensive, immobile hardware like desktop PCs, hardwired phone and networking, and paper-based systems like filing cabinets and copiers. Why would a company continue to invest in those older solutions when the same functionality — and more — can be provided by a mobile app that works from anywhere with an internet connection?
As companies increasingly use data to build a more nuanced and comprehensive understanding of their customers, operations, and marketing, it no longer makes sense to keep that data siloed. Information that typically lives in the ERP may be useful to someone using the CRM, for instance, and both systems may hold insights that could be helpful for MA activities. So why not bring it all together by integrating these systems? Breaking down these silos is already a major trend, and one that is only expected to grow over the next decade.
Reporting and Analytics:
Every customer and sale counts, particularly during times of economic instability and uncertainty. While there is good reason to think that 2021 will be less chaotic than 2020 has been, there’s no getting around the fact that we’re living through one of the most disruptive periods in modern business history. Planning for next few years is going to require the best possible data, from real-time production capacity reporting in the ERP to detailed sales breakdowns from the CRM. Gathering and utilizing this level of data requires increased investment in dedicated reporting and analysis tools. Demand for these tools is already surging. There’s every reason to believe that this trend will last into the foreseeable future.
All this updating and modernization can sound expensive. It doesn’t have to be. Existing CRM, ERP, and MA solutions can be “refreshed” to deliver optimized performance at a fraction of the cost of implementing a new system. Even in situations where older solutions need to be completely replaced, a well-planned implementation can create real, long-term savings and ROI. The secret is to work with a company that has a long track record of success.
At FayeBSG, we create CRM, ERP, and MA solutions that are optimized for your company’s unique needs. To learn more about tech trends and how we can help, contact us today for a free consultation.
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