Businesses ‘to invest in automation’

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CRM systems and other marketing automation processes are becoming extremely popular among Europe’s business communities, according to a new report from leading industry analysts Ovum.

This take-up is being driven by a desire to move towards more customer-focused approaches as companies attempt to compete in an increasingly crowded marketplace and attract new buyers or service users through personalised, engaging campaigns.

Ovum conducted interviews with 1,380 enterprise executives who utilised more than 500 employees, with 18 countries overall involved in the survey.

More than half (54 per cent) expressed plans to enhance or transform their marketing automation system in 2014, while one in seven plan to overhaul their system completely and bring in a new one, according to the report.

“Product and market maturity are converging to form a ‘perfect storm’ with vendor functionality meeting strong customer demand,” said Gerry Brown, a senior analyst of customer engagement and marketing technology at Ovum.

“Enterprise business challenges and IT trends have aligned with the marketing automation value proposition.”

However, he pointed out that firms need to be sure their board’s vision and their implementation plans align before carrying out any major investment in this area.

“The need for competitive advantage, strong austerity measures around cost control and managing risk, and improving the quality of operational execution are the catalysts for evaluating marketing automation systems,” concluded Mr Brown.

According to the new study, the four main industries where automation is likely to become a major trend over the coming 12 months are technology, insurance, manufacturing, and higher education, although this is by no means comprehensive, with many different sectors keen to develop their marketing processes.

Natwest Business Banking recently opted for a Microsoft Dynamics (CRM) system to replace a number of other software processes, explaining that it offers a degree of flexibility and integration the company would otherwise be unable to attain.

The organisation saw a relatively quick return on investment after making the purchase in 2011, it explained.

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