The rise of the CRM market

A great customer relationship management system must be able flexible, scalable and be able to integrate seamlessly with other business processes


By Antony Mutunga

The number of businesses in the world increases. As a direct result, this has seen many enter the business world with nothing in mind but the drive to make profit by any means possible. Which is very wrong.

As everyone who wants to succeed in business should know, there is one important mantra; the customer is king. A business cannot expect to exist without its customers as they are its livelihood; to flourish a business must ensure its customers are happy.

Because customer loyalty is a quality that affects a company’s revenue, companies have often looked to customer relationship management (CRM) to increase their profits. CRM is a management strategy that entails all the approaches, ventures and technologies that companies employ to manage their relationships with current and potential consumers. It helps companies by creating a simple user interface that collects data, which helps in recognising and communicating with the clients in a scalable way.

The technology has recently been embraced with gusto, with its market value increasing rapidly each year. According to Gartner, Inc., one of the world’s leading research and advisory companies, CRM became the largest software market in 2017 after its system revenue hit Sh3.9 trillion ($39.5 billion) overtaking that of database management systems (DBMSs), which managed Sh3.7 trillion ($36.8 billion) in the same period.

Over the years the CRM market has attracted various large organisations such as Microsoft, Oracle, and SAP making them key players. However, since 2012 they have been playing catch up to the CRM software market share leader, Salesforce, which, according to Gartner, has not only been growing three times faster than the three players but has also been expanding faster than the market itself.

As a result, and experiencing the largest market share loss compared to the other players, SAP decided to come up with a new application, SAP C/4HANA, in an attempt to disrupt the marketplace for customer relationship management. This new application seeks to help businesses to not only serve their customers better but to retain them as well. In addition, SAP also introduced the SAP HANA® Data Management Suite, the industry’s first comprehensive data management solution that enables companies to turn data sprawl into business value.

According to Bill McDermott, SAP CEO, the new application, SAP C/4HANA is an integrated offering designed to modernise the sales-only focus of legacy CRM solutions. The modernisation of the CRM solutions by SAP was as a result of combining some of the acquisitions it has made over the years.

These include: Hybris, an organisation that sells enterprise Omnichannel and product content management software, which SAP acquired in 2013 in order to have an e-commerce piece; Gigya, a technology company, which SAP acquired in 2017 to allow them to be able  to track customer identity, and CallidusCloud, a global enterprise software and SaaS company, which was acquired this year for its configure, price, quote (CPQ) piece that helps in defining the price of goods across a huge and constantly changing spectrum of variables.

With this combination, SAP expects to do more than just simply track a database of names and information on customers. Additionally, it hopes to give its customers more additional features to enable them provide consumer data protection, sales, marketing, and customer service.

“SAP was the last to accept the status quo of CRM and is now the first to change it. The legacy CRM systems are all about sales; SAP C/4HANA is all about the consumer. We recognise that every part of a business needs to be focused on a single view of the consumer. When you connect all SAP applications together in an intelligent cloud suite, the demand chain directly fuels the behaviours of the supply chain,” said McDermott during the unveiling of the new suite of applications.

With SAP splashing billions on their solutions to modernise CRM and other players also coming up with ways to increase their market share, the CRM market is expected to continue on its growth trajectory. Actually, if things remain as they are, the market will not only reach its projection of being worth Sh8.2 trillion ($81.9 billion) by 2025, but can also surpass it.

Even so, it is quite important for businesses to look at the kind of CRM solution they want to invest in. To better understand their customers and increase growth, organisations need to ensure that the CRM system they adopt has all the right qualities. For starters, there is need for a system that can easily integrate with the other support systems that are in an organisation. Haphazard integration will lead to increased costs and longer projects for the company as it will be forced to change all its systems.

Multiple features

The system also needs to be flexible and scalable to be able to grow with the business with ease.

Organisations have to adopt systems that can meet future requirements, such as large volumes of customer inquiries and other information they receive on a daily basis. The system should, as well, allow the addition of modules, include multiple features and also support synchronisation at highest levels.

Additionally, organisations need a system that can track and analyse the behaviour and preferences of their customers. This way they can use the data they obtained to increase the chances of capturing more clients and taking their businesses to the next level. Further, a desirable CRM system must be able to generate actionable information that can be helpful to all sectors of the organisation.

For instance, in sales and marketing actionable information helps to provide greater insights into the customers, making it easy to anticipate their needs and offer required solutions. On the other hand, with such information, marketing departments get higher success rate in their campaigns.

Organisations that acquire CRM systems with these qualities are sure to stay a step ahead of the competition, to create increased growth. Many can do this now. SAP with C /4HANA has gone further to include machine-learning capabilities from its brand, SAP Leonardo. (



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