April 26, 2012 – Customer relationship management is now a top technology priority for CIOs, moving to No. 8, up from No. 18 in 2011, according to a global survey by Gartner Inc.'s Executive Programs.

And in a separate Gartner survey, CEOs cited CRM as the most important investment area to improve business over the next five years.

“Effective leaders use technology to strengthen the customer experience regardless of the economic environment, and they see customers as the key factor in helping their business deliver growth and operational efficiency in 2012,” said Jim Davies, research director at Gartner, in a press release. “They also understand that a new strategy is needed to embrace social and media trends.”

According to Gartner analysts, CRM analysts must take social more seriously and not treat it as another channel. The company predicts that by 2014, refusing to communicate with customers via social channels will be as harmful to the relationship as ignoring emails or phone calls is today.

For more thought leadership, multimedia and news in the CRM space, click here.

CRM software revenue reached $12 billion in 2011, a 13.5-percent increase from 2010, and it is forecast to grow 7 percent in 2012, Gartner said. A growing portion of that revenue is accrued through software as a service and cloud computing. In 2011, SaaS accounted for 32 percent of the CRM software market and is expected to grow 16 percent in 2012. Further, insurance companies in North America are more likely to report technology budget increases than many other industries.

The Gartner worldwide CIO survey included responses from 2,335 CIOs representing more than $321 billion in IT budgets, covering 37 industries in 45 countries. It was conducted in Q4 2011.

The survey of CEOs and senior executives included more than 220 CEOs of companies with annual revenue of $500 million or more, from more than 25 countries. The survey was conducted in November and December of 2011.

This story originally appeared at Insurance Networking News.

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