In 2000, many customer relationship companies underwent sweeping technological upgrades. Typically, organizations make strategic moves of this nature every decade, and a recent report from CRM Buyer said many organizations will be using the cloud as the foundation for their new IT infrastructure. As a result, the report anticipates cloud computing to grow substantially in the CRM industry next year.

According to the report, software acquisition in the CRM industry is being driven by companies seeking programs that can improve productivity, reduce costs and generate new revenue. With cloud computing offering all of those benefits and the CRM industry looking to make wholesale technological upgrades, 2011 could be a year of substantial cloud computing expansion.

Thus far, cloud deployment has been slow for CRM companies because they have struggled to find cloud vendors that match their specific needs. Every organization has slightly unique customer management requirements, making it difficult for cloud providers to offer a cure-all solution. As a result, businesses were hesitant to commit to a service that was unable to meet all of their needs. The report said this is changing because businesses are witnessing so much potential in the cloud that they are hurrying to adopt the technology. In many instances, businesses are choosing multiple providers to serve specific purposes within a large CRM strategy.

Because CRM companies are increasingly turning to multiple vendors, cloud platforms and applications to meet their diverse needs, integration is becoming more important than ever in the industry, the report said. So many varied products are currently on the cloud market that compatibility and interoperability is almost impossible to create. As a result, companies could increasingly turn to integration solutions to help their varied cloud options work together and perform well.

Cloud-based analytics software is also making its mark in CRM, the report said. Companies are increasingly dealing with more customer data than they can handle, and processing that information is becoming critical to successful customer service. Cloud computing is particularly useful in this circumstance as cloud-based analytics software is capable of automating many of the tasks organizations perform when analyzing data, freeing workers to deal directly with customers and have relevant data delivered to them from the cloud.

According to a recent ZDNet report, the CRM industry is not the only sector changing its traditional business models to make space for the cloud. In 2011, many organizations are expected to adjust their processes to work with the cloud, the report said.