A Short History of CRM Software

17 Dec

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software hasn’t always been sophisticated. Since the first fledgling programs first hit the market during the 1980s, it has steadily evolved - along with other business software - to become a key component of the modern day business model. 

A Brief History of CRM Software


The history of CRM software dates back to the 1980s. CRM grew from database marketing and statistical modeling at a time when the ‘digital rolodex’ was the flashiest, cuttin’ edgiest game in town. Firms like Goldmine started releasing programs throughout the decade, building a legacy which lasts to this day

The home computer boom of the 1990s precipitated investment in increasingly sophisticated software. Sales force automation (SFA) took basic database marketing a step closer to CRM by combining automation and contact management, providing businesses with more customer data than ever before. By the middle of the decade, Siebel Systems had become the leading SFA specialists, developing software that could reasonably be described as CRM tools and, according to some, coming up with the acronym itself. Indeed, the assortment of names given to this emergent technology - including enterprise customer management (ECM) and customer information system (CIS) - gradually gave way to CRM which, by 1996, was the tag that stuck. 

The latter half of the decade saw the market become highly competitive, with CRM constantly picking up more marketing, sales and service applications. By the decade’s end, e-CRM vendors were offering internet-based iterations of the software, and mobile technology was beginning to come into play. 

In spite of the setbacks caused by the bursting of the dot-com bubble, e-CRM clawed its way back into businesses’ affections, and offline software continued to develop throughout the beginning of the new century. Tech giants like Microsoft joined the market, and firms like force.com harnessed the power of cloud-based applications, customizing them to individual CRM platforms and thereby giving businesses greater choice and flexibility than ever before.

In recent years, CRM has started to go social, and cloud-based solutions have reached new peaks of popularity. As we move into the second half of the current decade, we can expect increasing levels of integration, lower costs and more emphasis on mobile CRM.

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