The Future Of CRM: Customer Engagement And All Things Digital

Sam Varghese

Most leading research firms and pundits agree that digital will first impact businesses in the places they interact with customers – across sales, service, and marketing, whether online or in the store. The biggest bang for the buck will come from new and existing customers who want to buy goods and services when, where, and how they want them.

Let’s look at how different technologies can change modern customer relationship management (CRM) and engagement in an enterprise:

1. Artificial intelligence

This technology has the potential to crunch and automate tasks for sales/service/marketing reps – for example, scanning through and analyzing all open accounts receivables and spitting them out in a nice, readable format so sales reps can negotiate better payment terms. In short, mundane tasks can be automated so reps can take intelligent actions on tasks that add the most value to sales.

2. The Internet of Things

As a company with a large installed base of expensive machines out in the field, IoT sensors constantly send data (e.g., parameters above or below threshold), which can help the company proactively service their machines, thus lowering maintenance costs after a failure and keeping customers happy through increased uptime and meeting/exceeding their service level agreements (SLAs).

3. Drones

On the service side, site inspections and remote reporting through audio, video, or other data relayed back to the company’s CRM applications can auto-trigger tickets when potential issues arise. This could be a big boost, especially for companies with remote equipment, such as offshore oil wells run by oil and gas companies.

4. Cloud

This seems to the mother of all digital technologies, because the “-as-a-service” architecture has accelerated every other technology in some way or the other, be it compute power or APIs enabling integration better and faster, or the ability to access key data anytime, anywhere.

5. Mobility

Mobility doesn’t only mean mobile devices; it also refers to an effortless way to access your data and information wherever you are through a mobile device or interconnected devices.

6. Blockchain

Although it is relatively new technology, one way blockchain could impact most companies is connecting customer data with sales, service, and marketing. Integrating the customer’s entire history of transactions, every touch-point between the customer and the company in marketing, sales, or service, could enable a true 360-degree customer view, which has been a perpetual challenge in the old world of CRM, before the digital explosion.

7. Social media

Social channels are enabling many Fortune 500 companies to gather customer sentiment about new products and quickly scale up or down production, increase or decrease sales and marketing activities, or pull the product from the marketplace. These are all easily trackable, recordable, and reportable in digitally enabled CRM applications.

These are just the beginning of this conversation; other digital technologies, like 3D printing, Big Data, and augmented reality/virtual reality, can also boost customer engagement when their data is tracked, recorded, and reported through CRM applications. Regardless of the technology generating the data, the digital wave has changed the role of managing customer relationships from a reactive to a proactive one.

The impact of digital on modern-day CRM and customer engagement can be summed up in three words: automation, acceleration, and innovation.

A digitally enabled enterprise engages with both current and prospective customers through digital CRM applications, not just where they are but also where they are going. It also moves an enterprise from non-value-adding tasks by automating them and helping it focus on actionable insights, which is key to increasing both top and bottom lines.

Digital CRM is enabling companies to monetize customer engagements, thereby increasing wallet share. It’s also changing the C-suite’s roles from “keeping the lights on” to “bringing the smiles on” through innovation and new business models.

All in all, digital has changed the rules of the game for both the customer and the enterprise with a new model of value-added engagement where both can win.

For more on using technology to engage your customers, access the free eBook 5 Steps to Your Customer’s Heart with Emotionally Aware Computing.

Sam Varghese

About Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese is a CRM professional with 12 years of SAP experience in working with "Big 4" consulting companies and industries. He has a total of 19 years’ experience across various industries in business and IT. He is currently engaged with cloud CRM projects and digital initiatives with various customers across the United States. Sam is a thought leader, technology speaker, online author, and digital strategist. He can be reached via email at and online at his blog Digital.