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Who invented the first CRM software? A brief look into the history books



Who invented the first CRM software?

First CRM software invented Act! This is a little glimpse into the history books. The company Act! writes on their website that the first CRM software saw the light of day in 1986. In this respect, the suspicion that CRM software has now been around for almost 35 years is obvious. Whereby at that time no one had ever used this abbreviation in his mouth.

“The first CRM system was launched in 1986 by Pat Sullivan and Mike Muhney and was named ACT! It was basically a digital Rolodex where users could organize and store customer data in an effective way.”

Database Marketing used to be called…

When I started working in 1990, the subject was called database marketing. Whereby also the term marketing, coming from the USA, unfortunately here in Europe mostly does not include sales. Even though they benefit from database marketing just as much as their colleagues in marketing or service.

“It was only in 1995, after the concept had gained worldwide recognition and the software had been expanded to include functions such as sales force automation, enterprise resource planning and marketing functions in addition to contact management, that people began to talk about customer relationship management.

Marketing and sales campaigns – it was still a lot of manual work

As early as 1990, we were already running complex marketing campaigns at Yves Rocher. These were multi-stage campaigns that would have easily ended up in the Marketing Automation category today. Yes, if everything hadn’t had to be selected and executed by hand.

Even the statistics and analyses we carried out back then are still state-of-the-art in many companies today. The colleagues from Neckermann, Quelle and Otto fiddled around with neural networks. The companies SAS and SPSS almost completely dominated the analysis market. Then came Business Objects and many other systems, which were slowly but surely relegated to the background by Tableau or Qlik and products like Power BI. The CRM software market, “to be defined in a broader sense”, is growing. While in the ERP market replacement procurement plays the main role.

Does Open Source continue to play a niche role?

“In the 21st century, the first CRM solutions based on open source were made available. Many CRM vendors began moving their systems to the cloud to make the software accessible to companies of all sizes. Today, CRM solutions cost far more than before and offer many more benefits, and more than 48 percent of users access their CRM tool from their smartphone,” the author of Act! continues.

The open source market is growing because many more companies are willing to invest. Especially the technology and software companies are willing to get involved in open source. Large companies release all or part of their source code. The Hackathon called activities of worldwide distributed and yet together to work on a goal or a solution, are increasing more and more.

And who dominates the CRM/MarTech market today? Salesforce as top dog, Microsoft as number two. Salesforce has practically overtaken right. The company was the first to put its money on the cloud. Advertising slogans like “no software” on stickers made the rounds. Microsoft made many rounds of announcements until finally a mature CRM system came on the market. It is estimated that this will take about 10 years. SAP, too, has invested a lot of money over the last 10 to 15 years to get to the two top players. So far, SAP has not yet succeeded. We are curious to see when the eternal attacker will actually make up market share. With the latest release, another attack is taking place. Let’s see if SAP writes a new chapter.

First CRM software Act! was invented in 1986. And now?

First CRM Software Act! was invented in 1986. And now what? If we look ahead, then next to Salesforce, companies like Nimble or Hubspot grow. The topic Open Source is also coming back into fashion.

Or will the next top dog come from Dubai? The company Loyica has a lot of money behind it. The Fintech CRM company already has two products on the market. And their trombones blow on attack.

So we are curious to see who will write the next chapter of CRM history.

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Note: This is a machine translation. It is neither 100% complete nor 100% correct. We can therefore not guarantee the result.


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