Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Survey: Cost Benefits of Cloud-based CRM the Major Advantage for SMEs

The cost savings possible with a subscription model is seen as the major advantage of cloud-based CRM solutions among small and medium-sized enterprises, with nearly 60% of SMEs citing this as a key benefit, new research from Maximizer Software reveals. The survey also showed that scalability of cloud-based CRM is also a major part of its appeal, as is the potential to upgrade the applications as the technology and functionality improves.

SMEs were also polled on their most significant concerns about adopting a cloud model for their CRM systems. The risk of service outages or interruptions topped the list, with more than 70% of the companies surveyed listing this as a key worry.
The independent survey of more than 500 SMEs reveals that the biggest attraction of cloud-based CRM is the ability to avoid incurring high upfront costs, including the need for additional infrastructure and IT staff, necessary to implement an in-house solution – along with the rapid return on investment delivered by the subscription model. The highest proportion of SMEs surveyed – 58% – consider this to be the key benefit of cloud-based CRM at a time when businesses of all sizes are keen to cut costs.

The flexibility of cloud-based CRM also extends to the ability to upgrade the system at little or no cost, which is the third biggest plus for SMEs – listed as a key advantage by 40% of the businesses surveyed. With a cloud-based solution, the software is upgraded automatically on the host server, enabling SMEs to keep pace with the latest features without having to make significant re-investments.

Other advantages, listed in order, include:

-- the reduced maintenance and staff costs that come with hosting data in the cloud, which 32% list as a key benefit
-- the easier access to multiple functions and integration between departments possible with a cloud-based solution (30%)
-- the fact that hosting data in the cloud gives businesses access to the powerful processing and performance hub of a third-party specialist, cited by 23% of SMEs

SMEs are less interested in the capacity of cloud-based CRM to deliver remote and multi-device access or real-time database updates, largely because these functions are also available with in-house solutions.

As well as their concerns over the reliability of a cloud-based solution (named by 71% of the respondents), SMEs are also worried about the speed of service it would deliver, with 52% citing this as a major source of anxiety. Just under half are also particularly concerned that the security of their data will be compromised by hosting their CRM system off-site.

More information on CRM can be found at www.CRMindustry.com

CIO research: 86% of businesses are failing to see the strategic value of mobility

Mobile Helix, the enterprise application and data security expert, announced the findings of an independent CIO survey of 300 IT decision makers in the UK and US; exploring how enterprises are making use of mobile technology. The research shows that although 78 percent of enterprises have a mobility strategy, 86 percent are failing to utilize mobility to transform their business or open new revenue streams.

87 percent of CIOs believe that a majority of their employees would benefit from increased access to enterprise applications, like CRM, ERP and SharePoint on mobile devices. However, complexity concerns play a role in contributing to the reluctance of CIOs to invest more into mobility: 66 percent of CIOs say that they think that it’s too complex, and 72 percent say it’s too costly to integrate mobile innovations into legacy applications. Development, support and security concerns are also factors in limiting mobile initiatives. Yet, if these issues can be overcome, 70 percent of CIOs stated that there is support from their business to use mobility to drive strategic business value.

Enterprises that fail to see mobility as a tool to transform how they do business and open up new revenue streams are missing out on the enormous potential strategic value of mobility.  Only 14 percent of businesses surveyed are currently using mobility solutions to transform business processes, drive increased revenues and develop new income streams. Many CIOs are hesitant to fully explore the potential of mobility innovations as they believe the cost/benefit ratio of implementing them to be prohibitive.

CIOs are most likely to use mobility as an extension of the office today. Less than half of enterprises are adding mobile-specific functionality to add value to specific enterprise applications. In terms of the mobile capabilities that businesses are actually integrating into their existing enterprise applications, secure offline access is the most common, with on-device storage and development tools to push real-time updates to workers. GPS/location-based capabilities are also becoming more popular.

More information on CIO's, CRM and mobile strategy can be found at www.CRMindustry.com

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Survey: Mobile and Social Technologies Complicate B2B Sales Processes

Avanade, a global business technology solutions and managed services provider, released results from a large-scale global survey on the changing sales process and buying patterns of business and IT decision-makers. Avanade’s latest research shows the “consumerization” movement is shifting the sales process out of the control of the seller as enterprise buyers begin to mimic consumer shopping behaviors. With this shift, the value of the customer experience is now more important than price to business and IT decision-makers.

News Highlights

-- Customer experience now tops price as the most important factor in a buying decision by an enterprise decision-maker. Notably, business buyers are willing to pay up to 30 percent more for a product or service that offers an improved customer experience.

-- Businesses no longer have control over information shared about their products or services. Sixty-one percent of business decision-makers report third-party sites and feedback from business partners, industry peers or social channels is more important than conversations with a company’s sales teams when making a purchasing decision.

-- To help navigate this change, companies are enlisting new people and departments to manage the customer experience. Compared to three years ago, customer service and call centers, IT and marketing are the leading groups now playing a larger role in the customer experience.

-- Seventy percent of respondents believe technology will primarily replace human interaction with customers in the next 10 years. Anticipating this change, businesses are making new technology investments, changing business processes and redesigning organizational roles. More than 80 percent of companies have changed at least one business process in the past three years to better interact with customers.

This new global study builds on findings from Avanade’s Work Redesigned research conducted in January 2013. Progressive companies are changing business processes to adapt to a new style of work influenced by mobile devices, collaboration tools and social technologies. In this latest survey, Avanade found that businesses are changing processes to embrace the new business buyer and by increasing customer service and support technologies (44 percent), increasing the number of employees interacting with customers (40 percent) and adding automation to the sales process (32 percent).

 There are business benefits to making these changes. The research shows that businesses investing in technology to support better customer service and modifying internal roles are seeing positive results. Specifically, the companies making these changes are experiencing increases in customer loyalty (61 percent), revenues (60 percent) and customer base (60 percent).

Avanade surveyed 1,000 C-level executives, business unit leaders and IT decision-makers in 19 countries across more than 12 industries.
More information on mobile and social technologies can be found at www.CRMindustry.com