The Evolution of CRM Systems: From Spreadsheets to Mobile Apps

CRMs are incredibly important to business operations. Since 2017, they’ve been the largest software market, having overtaken database management. Even chatbots have become an integral part of many businesses and have made their way into these CRM systems.

These powerful tools have come a long way over the last few decades, evolving from basic spreadsheets to complex and dynamic software solutions. Let’s look at how this evolution panned out.

The First Wave of Digital CRMs

Digital CRMs first began to appear in the 1980s, when software company ACT! Released the first ever internal digital Rolodex system. Before that, companies had been stuck using basic spreadsheets to manage and track their customer experiences and interactions. 

This triggered the first wave of digital CRMs and, over the next decade, other software companies like Salesforce began to innovate and develop their own systems. Now, it was possible for companies to track inventory control and customer interactions over their company intranet.

Eventually, SAP and Salesforce both released some of the first-ever CRM SaaS options.

Move to the Cloud

In the 2000s, cloud computing began to take off in earnest. Companies were beginning to see the benefits of moving their systems and servers over to the cloud and it was sat this time that Salesforce created one of the first-ever cloud-based CRM systems.

Technological Advancement

Next, big players like Oracle and Microsoft began to enter the market and developed their own CRM systems. As competition drove innovation, CRM systems became ever more advanced, with various complex features that transformed them into flexible, powerful marketing systems.

Mobile CRMs

Today, these powerful CRM systems are even available on our mobiles. Sales teams can connect to mobile CRMs and access customer data through apps or web-based browsers on their smartphones. This allows them to access real-time data while out of the office, meeting with clients and prospective customers.

In 2008, researchers found that around half of Enterprises and 40% of small-to-medium-sized businesses were either using or trying out smartphone CRM applications. By 2012, there were already 110 CRM apps in the Apple Store.

This was an important development as we live in an increasingly mobile world. Since October 2016, traffic from mobile devices has overtaken desktops- and it’s only upwards from here. As such, experts predict an exceptional growth rate for the mobile CRM market over the coming years.

Messenger-based CRMs

But mobile CRMs wasn’t the final innovation in the CRM industry. No, software companies are continuing to improve and build on existing CRM technology in order to keep pace with changing business marketing practices.

Innovative CRM companies have been leading this change. They’ve developed the world’s first-ever messenger-powered CRM, which allows sales teams to connect with customers over social messenger systems, as well as traditional communication channels like email.

This is a very important innovation as customers and companies increasingly interact over social messengers. A few years ago, email would have been the primary communication channel between brands and their customers, but this is slowly changing and many customers now prefer to reach out via Facebook pages, Tweets, and other social media messenger apps.