So far in 2014, the Internet of Things looks to be beating off competition from big data to be the tech and marketing industry’s favourite buzzword. As with its predecessor, the concept’s ubiquity can reduce it to a kind of meaningless white noise, but the reality is that this development could mean major changes for many industries as it continues to expand.

Fundamentally, the idea is that analogue devices such as cars and ovens – as well as more complex tools such as those used in the oil and gas industry – will become connected to the web, allowing them to be more responsive as well as making it easier to collate data on particular processes.

For consumers and businesses, this could offer the capability to, for instance, have locks that open via a smartphone or thermostats that are remarkably responsive to changes in the atmosphere.

This is likely to improve convenience and standards of life for many people, but it also poses a number of challenges. For one thing, companies utilising this new technology will need to be extremely confident in their cyber security – the more connected the internet becomes to the physical world, the more costly any kind of unexpected or malicious breach could be.

Additionally, marketers will need to ensure they have the right tools in place to deal with the spike in consumer information that the Internet of Things will create.

Processes such as consumer relationship management, because they automate many of the systems needed to deal with this kind of data, could enjoy a spike in popularity as more devices get connected to the web.

Yves de Montcheuil, vice-president of marketing at data management company Talend, recently told Computing: “Let’s say you’re a just-in-time manufacturer. Being able to do capacity planning based not just on historical statistics but based on the instant availability of information about the health of the manufacturing chain is extremely valuable.”

This possibility could be an extremely useful one assuming firms have the capacity to take advantage of it.

Plans are afoot for further investment in consumer relationship management (CRM) processes over the course of 2014, according to a new report from Econsultancy in association with Responsys.

The Marketing Budget 2014 study found 49 per cent of firms to be planning a CRM investment in the next 12 months, making it the most popular area for spending, with business analytics (47 per cent) and new email platforms (40 per cent) following closely behind.

Digital marketers are increasingly needing to invest heavily in new technology simply to keep up with their counterparts as the pace of advances in the sector continues to grow, the survey suggested.

Furthermore, economic trends do not appear to be affecting this willingness to spend – around 70 per cent of respondents are planning to up their investment this year, the same amount as intended to do so when first asked in 2011, despite the fact that the overall business outlook is considerably rosier in 2014.

More than 600 companies, mainly from the UK, participated in this research. The number of firms planning to spend in the CRM field was up by four per cent since 2013, indicating that the technology is gaining further traction when it comes to forming relationships with customers.

Marketing automation also proved popular with businesses, suggesting that there is an ongoing trend among digital marketers to move towards more efficient, technology-driven processes – this can save cash, which is still important in straitened economic times, and also ensure that workers can spend their time on more productive or engaging tasks.

Only two per cent of respondents said they planned to decrease their technological spend in 2014, meaning this expansion looks unlikely to have hit its peak.

Simon Robinson, managing director with Responsys, said: “Overall, the report paints the marketing landscape in an interesting light. Technology will continue to challenge brands to interact with consumers in new and interesting ways.”

The biggest challenge will be capitalising on the opportunities provided by this innovation, he concluded.

The traditional approach to B2B marketing will no longer cut the mustard, with many companies changing their approach and adopting elements of the b2c model in order to stay ahead of the competition, an expert has claimed.

Simon McEvoy, planning director at Tangent Snowball, argued that the old-fashioned system of direct, down-the-line marketing aimed at forming a close personal relationship with a business customer is no longer effective.

Writing for Brand Republic, he suggested firms with large B2B customer networks are beginning to find this style of advertising ineffective.

“Expectations within the business community have increased. A generation of business owners … have grown up with the sophisticated use of web technology and emotionally charged advertising campaigns,” he declared.

Agencies have also played a major role in encouraging conservative b2b firms to adopt more innovative measures over the last few years, added Mr McEvoy.

Furthermore, the economic downturn over the last few years “has caused the B2B landscape to become incredibly competitive, so businesses are looking for ways to acquire and keep B2B customers which go beyond price or offer-led messaging”.

But what does this mean for companies? How can they develop their approach beyond the old-fashioned remit of linking up with interested customers and integrate elements of b2c marketing into a more complex, modern strategy.

Utilising technology is vital – social media platforms are becoming increasingly important, with b2b customers sourcing goods and services via Twitter and other sites more regularly.

Customer relationship management (CRM) can play a role in this process – not only is it able to link up with social media sites automatically, it also helps firms store the kind of data they need to produce effective, well-targeted marketing campaigns.

According to Mr McEvoy, it’s important that companies think carefully about their brand before embarking on a new style of advertising – after all, what works for one firm might be ineffective for another.

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At Redspire, we like to think that we’re unique. And now there’s one more reason to believe so!

So what’s the big deal? Here it comes: Every employee at Redspire now holds a Microsoft Dynamics CRM Certification. In other words, we’re all official experts in the Dynamics CRM application – everyone from the CEO to the Office Administrator.

So what is Microsoft Dynamics CRM Accreditation, actually? Put simply, it’s a thorough method of distinguishing experts in the Dynamics CRM product.

Since Microsoft wanted to scrutinise our knowledge inside out, the process of getting the certification was not a smooth sail. At first, we all thought that since we use Dynamics CRM every day, we should be able to pass with hardly any effort. Only after we learned about people who thought the same and failed miserably, did we start studying. And it took us a few weeks to prepare!

After being tested through and through (and everyone passing the first time around!), we all took one Friday afternoon off to enjoy the taste of success. And boy did we have things to talk about.

Nerdy? Maybe. Enthusiastic about Dynamics CRM? Absolutely. And now it’s official!

So what does this mean for our clients? Simply that no matter who answers your phone call, they’ll be able to help you with your query. And whatever customisation you request, we’re capable of implementing.

And what about the new clients? Whether you’re implementing Dynamics CRM for the first time or just switching CRM partners, you can fully rely on our experience with the product. We are all excited about the Dynamics CRM product and now we all can back up our passion with a certificate.

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