The CRM market continues to explode into the cloud. According to Gartner Research, the global CRM market grew 13.3% in 2014, increasing to $23.2 billion from $20.4 billion in 2013. Most notably however was the fact that nearly half (47%) of all CRM software revenue generated last year came from SaaS-based CRMs. It’s clear that more and more companies are trusting their CRM to the cloud rather than a private server protected by a firewall.

While Salesforce and Microsoft are on the fastest year-over-year growth rate, it’s clear that the remaining field is gaining ground on traditional names in the CRM industry like SAP, IBM and Oracle. What we’re seeing is a flood of new CRM applications that are attached niche industries and meeting the demands of specific users in unique ways. Many of these newcomers have found sustainable opportunities by catering to the changing behaviours of the modern sales team.

For example, the recent explosion in mobile-first business applications can be attributed to the decline of PC usage. Since 2012, worldwide PC shipments have actually been in decline as professionals opt for mobile-readiness of tablets, laptops and smartphones. This transition to mobile has given rise to a momentous wave of SaaS-based applications, specifically the sales CRM.

In 2012, nearly 39% of the CRM market was owned by SaaS-based companies. Today, it’s almost half and it’s changing everything. Big consulting firms like Deloitte have adapted their models to focus more on SaaS CRM integrations. The real money for them will be made connecting new cloud-based CRM systems to the old-school legacy systems in the enterprise.

Looking at the wide-reaching expanse of SMEs and startups, the picture gets much more interesting. While the enterprise is mostly divided between Salesfoce, Microsoft, IBM, Oracle and SAP, the SMEs are skipping the highly-complex CRMs in favour of easy-to-use, mobile-first CRM solutions. There are millions of companies that don’t need complicated, large-scale CRM integrations or the price tag that accompanies them. Instead, they want a plug-and-play CRM that can be downloaded by their sales team and work across multiple devices.

For small and medium-sized businesses, flexibility, usability and price are the defining characteristics of their CRM needs. In 2015, companies are looking for a mobile-centric tool that can be quickly learned and shared among their sales teams, but also have a flexible pricing model that can grow with the company. A startup just entering the market can’t afford the burden of a complex CRM implementation and instead they’re opting for app-centric solutions. Their resource limitations force them to restrict their search to the bare essentials, often choosing the CRM vendor that provides per-user pricing and the option of adding new modules as they are needed.

We expect the CRM landscape to continue to evolve into a SaaS-driven market hosted in the cloud. While the global CRM growth rate may be slowing, the opportunity for new players to provide niche solutions to specific niche markets will continue to grow. At Forcemanager, we are unequivocally devoted to the modern, mobile sales professional and we’ll keep building the tools to help them succeed.

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