A Brief History of CRM
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software was not always the smooth flowing software it is today. CRM has emerged out of bits and pieces of other software apps over the past few decades. One could say CRM originated the first time someone kept a Rolodex or notepad to track leads and customers. In the days before CRM software, salesmen and women worked hard to entertain leads and cold calls as well as presenting new products and services to existing customers.
CRM in the 1980s
The 1980s was a decade of growth and development in computer software that introduced databases as an improved method of CRM. Databases could be customized to hold records in tables of leads and customers. Databases are still used by some who do not have a need to manage or track large volumes of customers.
Contact management software became available in the late ’80s by a company called ACT!, which served as a digital rolodex. The ACT! Software had sufficient storage space and capability to organize contact information. As personal computers became more widespread, so did the growth of software development.
CRM in the 1990s
By the 1990s, contact management software began to evolve. The ’90s brought sales force automation (SFA), which took on several features from databases and automated them. Companies found SFA software with more functionality than ACT! Because they could automate different business tasks such as customer interaction tracking. Businesses could now track interactions with leads and customers so they could avoid duplicating efforts.
Siebel Systems was founded in 1993 by Tom Siebel who built the industry’s leading SFA software. At the time, Siebel Systems grew to become the leading provider of SFA software. In 1995, contact management and SFA became to look more like modern CRM software. By the end of 1995, the term CRM was born.
By the mid to late ’90s, software giants such as Oracle and SAP began to develop applications in an attempt to corner the market on CRM. At this time, vendors were adding sales, marketing, and service functionality to their CRM solutions. The CRM competitive market began to take off.
By 1999, different acquisitions took place while emerging CRM vendors were still competing in the industry. Salesforce came onto the market as the first vendor to offer a Software as a Service (SaaS), which changed the software industry and remains competitive today.
CRM in the 2000s
The early 2000s saw a huge burst in the dot com bubble. With many software vendors reporting huge losses, CRM had to either die or evolve. Many vendors began expanding CRM solutions beyond just sales and marketing.
By 2005 Microsoft entered the CRM market with Dynamics CRM. Siebel was acquired by Oracle as well as other enterprise solutions. Salesforce developed Force.com in 2007 as a cloud solution. CRM began to emerge as customizable solutions for different industries around this time.
In the 2010s, CRM continued to gain momentum as several social CRM capabilities began to emerge. Today, many SaaS CRM solutions provide flexibility and functionality to all markets for businesses of all sizes.