NEW SugarCRM Research: The Evolution of CRM—How Far it’s Come and Where it’s Going

evolution of crm

Over the past five years, the evolution of CRM and the way companies leverage Customer Relationship Management (CRM) has undergone a remarkable transformation. In this era of rapidly changing customer dynamics, the role of CRM has expanded well beyond its traditional boundaries. 

Long gone are the days when CRM systems were predominantly static repositories of customer data and sales records. CRM has now emerged as a dynamic and technologically-driven powerhouse, reshaping the way businesses engage with their customers. This evolution has been spurred by a confluence of factors, including advances in artificial intelligence and shifting customer expectations. Today, CRM is all about fostering meaningful relationships, enhancing customer experiences, and leveraging data-driven insights to stay competitive in an increasingly digital and interconnected world. 

To take a pulse on the CRM industry, SugarCRM surveyed more than 800 global business-to-business sales, marketing, service, and IT leaders to understand shifting CRM use cases over the past five years, and what new CRM activities companies are prioritizing moving forward.

Below are a few key trends we observed that highlight how CRM has changed over the past five years as well as a glimpse into the future of what leaders are prioritizing and thinking about as they move forward in this highly-competitive industry. 

The Evolution of CRM: How Customer Relationship Management Has Changed Over the Past Five Years  


“To be successful in today’s highly competitive market, every customer-facing team needs to work together with a common view of the customer and tightly intertwined, cross-functional processes. The key to increased CRM effectiveness is the breaking down of barriers across departments. Marketing needs to know how sellers are following up on the leads they create. Sellers need high-quality leads to come from marketing. Service teams need sellers to set customers up for success with appropriate expectations. Marketing needs service teams to drive up-sell and cross-sell opportunities back into the marketing funnel.”

– Clint Oram, Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer, SugarCRM


How Organizations are Aligning with the New Frontier of CRM 

“CRM must be intuitive and self-guiding. Users don’t have time to attend training classes or fumble around with clunky and complex software products. ‘Easy’ trumps all other CRM software evaluation considerations. AI is delivering on this promise by taking away the need to sift through reams of data or ‘stare and compare’ at charts to find insights. No longer do sellers have to wait on compelling and engaging content to come from marketing. In the year ahead, the growing application and acceptance of predictive and generative AI will embolden customer-facing professionals to expect – and demand – even more from their CRM tools.”

– Clint Oram, Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer, SugarCRM

In order to address these concerns, modern CRM solutions need every customer-facing team to work together with a common view of the customer. This will lead forward-thinking organizations to create tightly intertwined and cross-functional processes across all teams. The key to increased CRM effectiveness is the breaking down of barriers across departments.

CRM systems are becoming increasingly intelligent and predictive. With the integration of AI and machine learning, CRM platforms can analyze vast amounts of customer data to make accurate predictions about customer behavior, needs, and preferences. This enables businesses to offer more personalized and timely interactions, which are crucial for building and maintaining strong customer relationships.

The future of CRM is marked by intelligence, omnichannel engagement, customization, holistic customer journey management, and seamless third-party integrations. Businesses that embrace these trends and adapt their CRM strategies accordingly will be better positioned to thrive in a customer-centric and highly competitive landscape.

These highlighted stats are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what industry peers had to say. To learn more about the State of CRM Survey, please visit:

Emily Jahn
Emily Jahn Emily is the Content Marketing Manager at SugarCRM with years of experience working in the SaaS industry. Her strong suits include long-form and short-form content creation, SEO-optimized writing, and editorial planning and promotion. When she's not reading, writing, or editing, Emily enjoys everything the outside world has to offer—hiking, camping, backpacking, and most importantly, skiing!

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