Sales and marketing automation is ready to leap into the 21st century. To be successful, however, automation must be linked to practical application. Moreover, emerging business trends will drive the demand for the next generation of sales and marketing tools.
"The emerging business trends will, in fact, determine where this industry is going," says Barton Goldenberg, president of ISM Inc., a Washington-based consultant. Goldenberg predicted the future of sales and marketing automation last month at a conference in Boston sponsored by DCI, Manasquan, N.J.
He listed the following emerging business trends: mass customization, the move toward relationship marketing, the capability of implementing one-to-one marketing, re-engineering of key business processes, the fundamental shifts in marketing mixes (product, place, price, promotion), and "speed" marketing.
"How can we use technology to address these business trends?" is the challenge facing the industry today, he says. Will today's sales and marketing systems meet tomorrow's business needs? Goldenberg lists the following needs:
· Increased integration among business team members: "I believe that as a direct result of emerging business trends, we must see a better, tighter integration between sales, marketing, customer service and executive functions."
· Software capable of addressing increasingly sophisticated functional requirements: "What I'm talking about is software that is capable of supporting one-to-one marketing, new marketing mix/marketing segmentation approaches, and relationship marketing upward to the supplier and downward to the consumer. We need more sophisticated software that will allow us to address these emerging business trends. "
· Better integration between internal and external software offerings (for example, sales and marketing software with demographic/lifestyle information): "We need to be smarter in using external information in conjunction with our own internal sources." · Increasingly easy-to-use software, including enhanced reporting capabilities: "We're not there yet. You still have to be half a genius to use the computer."
· Software allowing simple, direct links with multiple members of the distribution channel: "That's the way to build upon these emerging business trends." According to Goldenberg, sales and marketing automation is not a panacea for the corporation. "Good business judgment, good business strategy and an ability to support that allows for good and effective automation -- not automating everything for the purpose of automation," he says. Goldenberg says there's trouble ahead unless vendors and users make some significant changes in the way technology is applied to sales and marketing.
"I'm particularly pleased and encouraged by the desire of vendors and users alike to try to understand the business impact of what's coming," he says.