The cloud, big data, and the future of CRM

I just read that Basho Technologies, which has created an open source, highly available and fault-tolerant data structure for the cloud called Riak, has landed a cool $7.5m in new funding.

The news is interesting, as it shows more and more people are not only banking on NoSQL and other cloud-optimized data architectures from an investment standpoint, but also that many large organizations are looking for new and inventive ways to manage huge data scenarios. (Basho already lists big names like Comcast among its customer base.)

When I think of where CRM is going, or at least where I think it should be going, I really like that technologies like Riak are out there. The explosion of data, from social media, to email and more generic web activity – which can and should be tracked in a CRM context – causes headaches for most traditional, relational-database CRM models.

Let’s face it, CRM for the B2C set has always been a touchy subject. The data volume for large B2C organizations made for a lot of anonymity along the value chain, and a lot of sales and marketing decisions were made with guesswork or statistical data. Imagine, being able to base your market decisions on real data, analyzed more effectively and faster – oh, and with very little data loss along the chain.

NoSQL databases are an evolutionary step in building frictionless, agile web applications and total web platforms/experiences for large organizations. I am excited about where concepts like Ruby and Riak can take CRM.

Think about it – what would you do if you knew you could collect ANY data around your prospects, customers; emails, web activity, files, activities, web meetings, chats, Tweets etc. – and manage that with no data loss in an intuitive UI which helped you to identify your clear advocates, problem areas and untapped opportunities?

A more fluid approach to CRM could be coming – we are just now seeing the tools that we all might consider de facto standards in a few years.

Martin Schneider is Director of Product Marketing at SugarCRM. In his role, Martin handles competitive intelligence, marketing positioning and analyst relations. Prior to joining SugarCRM, Martin held the position of senior analyst with technology industry research firm the 451 Group, headquartered in NYC. Martin covered the CRM landscape for the 451, analysing and consulting on such topics as Software-as-a-Service, business intelligence and open source applications. Martin also covered the CRM space as news editor with CRM Magazine in New York.

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