The worldwide social customer relationship management (CRM) market is forecast to reach over $1 billion in revenue by year-end 2012, up from approximately $625 million in 2010, according to Gartner, Inc. Worldwide social CRM is projected to total $820 million in 2011.
However, analysts say spending by buyers on social software for marketing, customer service and sales increased by 40 percent in 2010, but social CRM remained less than 5 percent of the total CRM application market. More than 100 vendors have social CRM offerings. Most are not profitable and generate annual revenue of less than $1 million.
"Use by consumers accounts for over 90 percent of spending on social CRM, but spending on business to business (B2B) use is growing faster and will account for 30 percent of total social CRM spending by 2015," says Adam Sarner, research director at Gartner. "The market will continue its rapid consolidation throughout 2011. Previously, social vendors acquired each other. Now, business application vendors and outsourcers have started to add capabilities through acquisitions."
Most vendors remain relatively small and unprofitable, although many grew 50 to 100 percent in 2010. In order to thrive in the future, analysts said that social CRM vendors will need to provide clear benefits for companies and communities, demonstrating multiple use cases for sales, marketing and customer service processes.
"Until recently, many companies have treated social CRM as a series of experiments and tactical purchases. Few have a social CRM strategy or established metrics to measure its effect on hard business results. Different departments, employees and managers implement different types of applications for different purposes," Sarner says.
"This lack of consistency among buyers keeps the market fragmented into at least three segments — sales, marketing and customer service — with many small vendors taking various approaches to address one area, approach or use case. The majority of vendors that survive and thrive in the mid-term will offer tools that can address multiple use cases in more than one department."
Today's vendors differentiate themselves on the basis of functions, process workflow, analytics and ease of use or superior experience delivered through professional services. The functions that social CRM vendors offer tend to reflect one of four typical starting points:
- Hosting and supporting a branded or private-label community, and providing the surrounding functions
- Monitoring, listening to, surveying and responding to private-label or independent social networks
- Facilitating the sharing of B2B or business to consumer (B2C) contacts through communities
- Establishing community product reviews largely to facilitate online sales
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