Gartner forecasts increasing popularity of downloadable mobile CRM apps

Important changes will occur in the customer relationship management (CRM) market between now and 2014, according to a survey conducted by Gartner.

The IT research firm predicts that there will be more than 1,200 mobile CRM apps available from app stores in 2014, compared to last year's figure of just over 200 – representing a growth of around 600 per cent.

"Many organisations want to extend their customer service to the mobile platform market. However, the reality is that not all good applications make a good mobile application," said Johan Jacobs, research director at Gartner.

While this market shift could provide some CRM vendors with a competitive advantage, a sharp rise in demand for CRM apps could signal a shortage of development skills, claims Gartner.

"IT leaders should weigh the benefits of accessibility with usability — the choice will depend on corporate policies for smartphones and tablets. Besides, they should focus first on getting the performance right, as it's critical for users and ensure that the page design and the content does not get crowded with rich media that takes a long time to load," continued Jacobs.

Gartner also expects over half of total CRM software revenue to be delivered as SaaS by 2016. In 2012, less than 39 per cent was delivered by SaaS, while a figure of 42 per cent is forecast for the end of this year.

While Gartner has estimated that the global CRM software market (including both SaaS and on-premises) will expand by 9.7 per cent this year, SaaS-delivered CRM will grow by close to 18 per cent over the same period.

Salesforce.com last year surpassed SAP to become the world's leading CRM vendor by revenue. Gartner expects Salesforce.com to attract even more business because of its ranking and to remain in top spot, at least throughout 2013.

"CRM continues to be high on the CIO's agenda," said Ed Thompson, VP of Gartner. "According to Gartner's Executive Program survey of 2,053 CIOs in 2013, attracting and retaining new customers was ranked the No. 4 business priority for 2013. Customer experience management is emerging as a business discipline for marketing, sales and customer service leaders. Every day, these leaders are incorporating more new technology into their projects to achieve their organisational goals."

Gartner is holding its Customer Strategies and Technologies Summit 2013 in London on 5-6 June. At the event, Gartner analysts will study the impact of mobile, social media and cloud-related forces on CRM.