According to the market research company IDC, the global CRM applications market recorded a very strong revenue performance last year with 18.2 billion US dollar and a growth rate of 11% compared to the previous year.

CRM's increasing appeal is in part a response to the changing competitive landscape, where mainly social networks and mobile end devices have a hand in. Besides, it is becoming more difficult for brands to differentiate on services and products, while customers are able to use the internet to research purchases and make informed decisions. Most importantly, in the event that they are unhappy, they can communicate their displeasure with an audience of millions across social platforms, which is a challenging environment for marketers.

An IDC study covered nearly 190 CRM vendors, across a total of 49 countries globally. According to the results, a total of 18 vendors brought in more than $100 million in revenue and captured combined a total market share of 63%, while the rest has been shared by the remaining 170 vendors. To no surprise, Oracle remained the number 1 CRM vendor worldwide, growing above the market average and the only vendor that earned double-digit market share (13.2%) during the first half of 2011. continued to impress with the best year-over-year growth (22.6%) among the top 10 vendors during the same period and moving into the number 2 position worldwide for the first time since IDC started tracking the market semi annually in 2008. Within the top 10, SAP and NICE Systems were the other vendors that had stronger than overall market growth.

"The CRM applications market experiences growth in an organic relationship with broader market conditions and organizational performance. Movements, such as social and mobile, are bringing consumer-like experience requirements to all aspects of end customer engagement with the companies with whom they conduct business," said Mary Wardley, program vice president, CRM Applications of IDC. "As a result, we will see requirements for a modernization of customer-facing processes, which will precipitate increased investment in supporting systems such as CRM applications."

IDC's Worldwide Semiannual Customer Relationship Management Applications Tracker provides total market size and vendor share for the contact center, customer service, marketing, and sales segments of the global CRM software market. Measurement for this Tracker is total software revenue, which includes license plus maintenance plus SaaS and other subscription revenue. Information provided include biannual market size, vendor share, and forecast data for the four functional markets – Marketing, Sales, Customer Service, and Contact Center – that comprise the CRM applications market.

Furthermore, IDC points out in their report that in the ever-connected world, CRM applications vendors need to understand core business processes, applications' requirements, and end-user and consumer engagement models. The incorporation of social media, mobile, and analytics into CRM solutions are examples of the dynamics of the market that suppliers must track, understand, and respond to.

What more is there to say then "Welcome to the age of the customer!"

By Daniela La Marca