CRM software is the backbone of customer experience operations for most businesses today. In fact, the global market for CRM solutions is growing at a CAGR of 2.1 percent and is estimated to reach an astounding 57 billion U.S. dollars in 2025. And cloud-based CRM solutions represent over 75 percent of the total spend on CRM software worldwide. It is not surprising, then, that many businesses are now considering moving from on-premise CRM software to cloud-based CRM solutions.
But what has led to this massive shift towards the cloud? This blog post will shed light on how exactly a cloud-based CRM differs from traditional on-premise solutions, and we will also talk about the benefits of cloud-based CRM software for business process automation.
How is a cloud-based CRM solution different from on-premise CRM?
Both types of CRM solutions have their pros and cons. Cloud-based CRM offers greater flexibility, accessibility, and scalability, while on-premise CRM provides more control over data and infrastructure but requires more significant upfront investment and ongoing management.
|Lower initial cost due to no need for extensive hardware
|Higher upfront costs due to hardware and software infrastructure
|Maintenance and Updates
|Automatic updates provided by the vendor
|Manual updates need to be managed by IT teams
|Accessibility and Mobility
|Accessible from various devices and locations
|Limited to on-site devices
|Customization and Flexibility
|Can adapt to specific business needs
|Higher customization potential and control over customization
|Data Control and Security
|Data managed by the vendor with security protocols in place
|Greater control over data security and storage
|Integration with Legacy Systems
|Integration may require APIs or connectors to link with existing systems
|More complex integration with older systems and applications
Advantages of cloud-based CRM over on-premise CRM for more efficient automation
Let’s expand on the differences as we take a more nuanced look at the advantages of cloud-based CRM over on-premise systems.
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1. Rapid Implementation and Updates
Cloud-based CRMs can be swiftly deployed. As a result, businesses can begin automating processes without the delays associated with hardware setup and software installation. Furthermore, these systems receive automatic updates from the provider, which ensure that businesses always have access to the latest automation features and improvements.
In contrast, on-premise CRMs may require substantial time for deployment and manual updates, slowing down the automation adoption process.
2. Scalability and Resource Allocation
Cloud CRMs excel in scalability, seamlessly accommodating growing automation demands. As process volumes increase, cloud systems can scale resources to handle higher workloads without extensive manual intervention.
On-premise solutions, however, require careful resource planning and allocation to match evolving automation needs, which can be resource-intensive and time-consuming.
3. Access and Mobility
Cloud-based CRMs enable remote access to automated processes from various devices with an internet connection. This mobility empowers employees to manage tasks and interactions on the go.
In contrast, on-premise solutions limit access to physical office locations, which can restrict the flexibility of automation and potentially cause delays in critical processes.
4. Integration and Ecosystem
Cloud CRMs often boast a rich ecosystem of integrations with third-party tools and services. This interconnectedness enhances automation by enabling seamless data flow across different platforms and streamlining processes that rely on data synchronization.
On-premise solutions can struggle to achieve the same level of integration agility, potentially hindering the automation of end-to-end workflows involving multiple systems.
5. Lower Maintenance Overhead
Cloud-based CRMs significantly reduce the burden of maintaining hardware, servers, and updates. IT teams can focus more on automation and cloud cost optimization rather than managing infrastructure. On the other hand, on-premise CRMs demand ongoing IT efforts to maintain hardware, implement updates, and ensure the availability of resources.
6. Innovation and New Automation Technologies
Cloud CRM providers are at the forefront of innovation. They frequently introduce new automation technologies such as AI-driven workflows, predictive analytics, and machine learning enhancements. Cloud users gain access to these advancements seamlessly, whereas on-premise CRM users may face challenges in integrating new automation technologies due to the complexity of their deployment model.
Features of top cloud-based CRM solutions
The above advantages are facilitated by efficient features the top cloud-based solutions are equipped with. They come with a variety of functionalities to help businesses manage customer relationships, automate processes, and drive growth. Here are some features commonly found in top cloud-based CRM solutions:
- Contact and Lead Management: Efficiently store and manage customer contact information, interactions, and leads in a centralized database.
- Sales Automation: Streamline sales processes with automation features such as lead scoring, opportunity tracking, sales forecasting, and automated follow-ups.
- Marketing Automation: Automate marketing campaigns, segment customer lists, send targeted emails, and track campaign performance to nurture leads and engage customers.
- Workflow Automation: Create custom workflows to automate repetitive tasks, notifications, and approvals, which ultimately improve efficiency and consistency across teams.
- Customer Support and Service: Manage customer inquiries and support tickets with automated ticket assignment, routing, and escalation.
- Analytics and Reporting: Generate reports and visual dashboards to gain insights into sales, marketing, and customer service performance.
- Integration Capabilities: Integrate with other business tools and applications, such as email marketing software, e-commerce platforms, accounting software, and more.
- Mobile Access: Access and manage CRM data on mobile devices through dedicated apps, allowing sales and support teams to stay connected while on the go.
- AI and Predictive Analytics: Some cloud CRMs offer AI-driven features like predictive lead scoring, chatbots for customer support, and data-driven insights to guide decision-making.
- Data Security and Compliance: Cloud-based CRMs provide security features such as data encryption, role-based access controls, and compliance with industry regulations.
- Customization: Tailor the CRM to your business needs by customizing fields, layouts, and processes to match your unique workflows.
- Multi-Channel Communication: Engage with customers through various channels such as email, social media, chat, and phone, all from within the CRM platform.
- Document Management: Store and manage documents related to customers, deals, and projects so teams can access critical information in one place.
- Collaboration Tools: Enhance teamwork and communication by allowing teams to collaborate on customer-related tasks and activities within the CRM.
- Scalability: Cloud-based solutions can easily scale to accommodate growing business needs and increased user numbers without extensive infrastructure changes.
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Should you build a custom cloud-based CRM solution or use an off-the-shelf solution?
Top cloud-based CRM solutions, such as Salesforce, HubSpot, Microsoft Dynamics 365, Zoho CRM, and Pipedrive, offer a combination of the above features to help businesses automate processes, enhance customer interactions, and drive overall efficiency. The choice between an off-the-shelf solution vs building your own solution will depend on your business's unique requirements and objectives.
When to choose an off-the-shelf solution?
Faster Implementation: Off-the-shelf CRMs are ready to use out of the box, which significantly reduces deployment time. If you need to automate processes quickly, an existing CRM can get you up and running faster than building a custom solution.
Cost Efficiency: Developing a custom CRM can be expensive and time-consuming due to development, testing, and ongoing maintenance costs. Off-the-shelf CRMs offer a cost-effective solution, especially for small to medium-sized businesses with budget constraints.
When to build custom CRM software?
Unique Business Requirements: If your business has highly specific and unique processes that cannot be effectively managed by existing off-the-shelf CRM solutions, a custom-built CRM might be the better choice. It allows you to tailor the system precisely to match your workflows and needs.
Competitive Differentiation: A custom CRM can provide a competitive advantage by offering features and functionalities that your competitors might not have. It enables you to innovate and address customer needs in a distinct way.
Full Control: With a custom CRM, you have complete control over features, integrations, and updates. This level of control can be advantageous if you need to adapt quickly to changing market conditions or regulations.
However, the ROI from custom CRM software largely depends on your technology partner and the cloud development solutions they deliver to you. The project can go awry with an inexperienced team and lead to high costs or abandonment.
Cloud-based CRM solutions offer immense advantages over traditional on-premise CRM software when it comes to efficient business process automation. The flexibility, scalability, integration capabilities, and innovative features of leading cloud CRMs allow businesses to streamline workflows, enhance productivity, and deliver superior customer experiences.
While custom-built CRM software can help address unique business needs, off-the-shelf cloud solutions provide unmatched speed of deployment and cost efficiency for most organizations. The choice depends on specific requirements, budgets, and objectives.