What is the Forecast for CRM: Partly Cloudy

Cloud CRM continues to be a hot topic. This week alone I’ve seen several different posts in one social media group I belong to – all on the subject of cloud CRM: what’s the best platform, what are the most desired features for mobile CRM, etc. Predictions are that cloud-based CRM will account for half of all CRM deployments by 2015.

The predominant message circulating around regarding cloud CRM is that it’s all the rage, convenient, mobile and secure (wince).

How Secure is the Cloud, Anyway?

This sure is a touchy subject with software developers and vendors. Cloud providers are committed to compliance with data protection and privacy laws that are also applicable to IT service providers, which can vary by country.

Reliability is another big issue, especially when it comes to CRM in the cloud. Can your business afford to lose access for even a short period of time? Depending on the size of your company, any amount of downtime can be catastrophic to the bottom line.

Before jumping head first into the cloud (pun intended), you really need to find out how disruptions in service are handled, if there are backup options available, and what happens if there’s a security breach. When considering a move of your CRM processes onto the cloud, you must carefully weigh the risks and benefits. Be certain to get concrete answers to these very important questions:

What will the Total Cost of Ownership be – including storage, additional features and charges for add-on apps – from the cloud provider over a 3-year period? Do the math.

  • How will you customize the CRM system to suit your unique business operations?
  • How will integration with your internal systems be managed?
  • What happens if you are not happy with the Cloud after a year or so?
  • How will you get your documents and email communications out of it?

Have an Exit Strategy

Once on the cloud, can you ever get out totally and completely if desired?

Your customer data belongs to you, so you should be able to remove your data whenever you choose, right? Are there any early termination fees for your subscription? Make sure you find these out from your provider before you buy, because things might not be how they first appear.

It is smart to look at all of your options, including leveraging existing internal infrastructure like SharePoint, before committing to a yearly contract with a cloud-based CRM. There are benefits that no cloud CRM option can provide:

  • Built-in Configuration methods
  • Extendable and expandable
  • Secure and on-premise
  • Before shopping for any CRM solution, determine a baseline of requirements, because there are so many choices and options – as well as possible conflicts.