Current State of CRM 2020

Christopher Sirk

As we catch our breath at the end of 2019 and look forward to 2020, we can see just what a major year it has been in CRMLand.

First off, there’s the continued growth of this very popular software category. While firm end-of-year numbers have yet to be tabulated, we can safely say the CRM market is now worth about $44.64 billion USD. Click here for a full definition of crm.

When you consider that CRM market revenue was only $23.14 billion in 2015, that year-on-year growth is quite the jaw-dropper. By 2025, the market is projected to nearly double once again, reaching $80 billion. CRM is still the fastest growing software going.

In terms of how people implement CRM, on-premise deployments continue to shrink in favor of cloud-based SaaS. According to Gartner, cloud-based services now take up about 75% of the market and the trend is only going up.

New software and legacy platform updates are ironing out the learning curve, and that’s been bumping up adoption rates. CRMs are much, much easier to learn and implement than their legacy ancestors circa 10+ years ago. No change there, folks.

Meanwhile, the move away from platforms that need developers/onsite IT specialists to implement and service continues. Drag and drop, customizable modular interfaces are the norm, with UX and CX focusing on minimalism, intuitiveness, and the frictionless expectations of the millennial (and now Gen Z) consumer.

To put it plainly, CRM is integrating with more and more peoples’ lives, both at work and outside of it. In particular, mobile, personal, and channel-less CRM are all #trending.



1. Mobile CRM

In 2019, the mobile platform acquired a share of roughly 50% of all website traffic, a figure that’s only on the up-and-up. When half (or more) of all potential customers are encountering your business via mobile, the value of having a mobile strategy for your company becomes pretty obvious.

This trend has had significant consequences for CRM. Pretty much every vendor now offers a mobile CRM in addition to its web-based app. 

While statistics on mobile CRM adoption are tricky to tease out, we can see that the growth rate of the mobile CRM market in 2019 implies significant adoption; it was forecasted to be 11% (reaching a market cap of $15 billion USD). 

On top of that, over the next decade (from 2019 to 2029), the market for mobile CRM applications is projected to grow 13% every year.

One study by Atlanta-based app developer Innoppl found that 65% of sales personnel with mobile CRM meet their sales quota, whereas only 22% without a mobile CRM do so. All this makes perfect sense. Having contact management, sales management, and sales pipeline features in your pocket at all times is a powerful proposition. 

It might even be indispensable in years to come as more and more business takes place in the phone zone. 

2. Channel-less CRM versus omnichannel CRM

Omnichannel CRM has long been a trend in CRM. The idea is to aggregate all your cross-channel marketing, sales, support, and service interactions with leads, customers, and everyone else in one place. This gives you excellent visibility and allows you to make more educated, unified decisions based on improved context, like having an individual lead or customer’s history of interactions with your business.

But in 2019, the omnichannel mentality started to give way as relentless Uber-style streamlining continues. While omnichannel is certainly a million times better than the siloed disunity of pre-CRM customer-facing interactions, it still involves points of friction that can be eliminated. 

Channel-less CRM takes designing a great customer experience as its starting point. 

It’s all about delivering a customer experience that is personalized, transparent, flexible, and straightforward. In other words, it’s about relationships—shrinking distances between marketing and sales, and customer service and sales, by making sure it’s all about CX.

A channel-less interaction is analogous to visiting a small-town general store in days of yore. The owner knows you, knows your order, knows your name—you walk in and they already know what you’re going to buy. 

There’s no such thing as ‘channels’ in this world; everything is aligned towards delivering the best experience. Ironically, the future does indeed look a bit like the past.

3. Rise of Personal CRM

Perhaps the story of 2019 is the fast rise of personal CRM. A range of digital tools like Asana, Contacts+, Covve, Evernote, and Airtable have been finding second lives as relationship organizing apps. Freshly minted upstarts like Dex and UpHabit are devoted exclusively to delivering a personal CRM product.

Personal CRM builds off the DNA of the humble, long-enduring genre of the spreadsheet. Going beyond cells, tables, and formulas, this type of software offers features like: a detailed address book, a day planner with reminders, a calendar and event manager, and a streamlined way to handle communications; all of which get regularly updated in real-time. Other personal CRM tools can include business card scanners, trip planners, sales campaign planners and trackers, and even journal features.

Evidently, there is a certain apprehension about taking a category of software originally designed for businesses and customers, then repurposing them for the rarefied realm of personal interactions (indeed, The Atlantic has a whole article about it). But when you consider how the majority of our relationships are already mediated by digital tools (Gmail, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, iMessage, WhatsApp, WeChat, et al.), and have been for about a decade-plus, personal CRM starts to look a lot more reasonable.

Because rather than being a dystopian force that erases the qualitative elements of relationships, turning your friends into characters from The Sims, personal CRM can simply function as a tech-boosted personal organizational tool.

The glut of personal CRMs launched in 2019 confirmed that this market is developing, as people lose their suspicions and realize that a contemporary, automated personal assistant isn’t such a bad thing after all.

CRM 2020

At the end of 2018, we noted how something like 500 vendors were out there CRMing it up. That hasn’t really changed in 2019; there are still hundreds of vendors vying for increasingly niche markets. 

On the other hand, it’s true there’s also been a trend of consolidation—large legacy competitors have been scooping up promising tools and integrating them into their product offerings. Take Salesforce acquiring Tableau, for example.

Yet beyond this macro-level moving and shaking, the qualitative trend of CRM has definitely been moving towards relationship-building and customer experience, tying together sales, marketing, support, and everything else to streamline all business activities. Channel-less marketing, mobile CRM, and personal CRM all play into this ongoing shift.

Long story short, in 2019 CRM kept making inroads into everyday life, and this is the big takeaway as we move into 2020. 

An analogy of the 90s Internet is pertinent here; as the pocket-protected nerds of BBS boards gave way to cool kid influencers on Instagram and Twitter, this is what’s happening with CRM– we’re clearly all going to end up using these tools. From hyper-specialized to social phenomenon; 2019 only confirms this broad trend in CRM, which has taken us from early 2000s office desktop to 2020s laptop-on-the-bed.

Just like the Internet, the value of CRM is clear. And when the value is there, adoption will follow. Exciting times ahead.