The Evolution Of Online Contact Management: from Notepad To Cloud Based CRM Solution


Today it is hard to distinguish one automation solution from another. Despite having a number of unique features, they are all aimed at improving your customer relationships offering a variety of tools to achieve it. Contact management, in particular, is one of the most important tools that is capable of driving your business forward. Tracking basic sales and customer information has always been paramount for any organization as you can get a clear vision of who your target audience is and what their preferences are. To understand whether your company needs a contact management software or a full-on CRM implementation, you have to understand what these things actually are and explore the subject thoroughly.


Believe it or not, but people have been dealing with contact management long before the invention of CRM. Of course, it depends on how far back you want to go, but it all humbly started with a note pad and a pen. In time, the engineers from the 1950s came up with an ultimate device that helped businesses track the basic customer related information – the rolodex. The etymology of the word comes from “rolling” and “index”. It is a device that is nowhere to be found these days. At its simplest, rolodex is an address book on a wheel. Marketers and sales professionals of that time used to attach specially shaped business cards to the rotating spindle. Rolodex is a rightful ancestor of modern day online contact management software.

Database Marketing

Database marketing was the next stage of contact management software that Robert and Kate Kestnbaum pioneered. One of the first definitions for the term “database marketing” suggests that it is an interactive marketing strategy that utilizes individually addressable marketing media and communication channels (may it be telephone or mail) not only to outreach and assist the company’s target audience, but also to provoke customer demand. In addition, you can maintain a permanent connection with your prospects and existing customers by keeping an electronic database of your contacts. It was a more advanced version of direct marketing in the 1980s. Mr. and Mrs. Kestnbaum created various metrics for businesses to get a better understanding of their customers. They developed customer lifetime value, econometrics and financial modelling. The new approach enabled businesses to amass and track customer related data, which allowed companies to develop customized communications to attract more potential clients.

Contact Management Software

As technology developed, marketing campaigns became more and more sophisticated. The majority of businesses were hardly as customer-centered as they are today, but the need to store the ever-growing amount of customer related data was apparent. Therefore, contact management software was introduced to the world. In the late 1980s contact management software was the primal tool for basic contact management. In addition, the emergence of numerous software vendors and the growing popularity of professional computers had been driving the automation industry forward.

Sales Force Automation and CRM

Contact management software had started to pack on additional sales related features in the beginning of the 90s, which helped push contact management systems towards sales force automation. This combination enabled various businesses to get access to much more valuable customer information. It also automated business processes like stock control and improved different sales related responsibilities like customer interaction tracking. By the mid 90s, the technology that helped businesses automate their key business processes had shaped up to be what vaguely resembles the modern day CRM solutions. However, it did not have a proper name for itself just yet. The industry’s biggest experts and influencers have tried out a number of terms like enterprise customer management (ECM) and customer information system (CIS), but it was not until 1995 when Customer Relationship Management become a commonly referred term. One of the most noticeable events in the late 90s was also the introduction of the first ever mobile CRM system and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions that were generally aimed towards smaller businesses instead of huge enterprises.

Online Contact Management and Cloud Based CRM

Throughout the decade of the 00s, technology has been constantly evolving. Obviously, the next big thing in CRM industry was the introduction of cloud based CRM solutions. The technology has discovered a new frontier where business owners could choose the preferred deployment option (cloud or on-site) and customize the software in accordance with the specific needs of each particular business. Moreover, the popularity of online solutions is constantly growing as the initial costs are much lower and the integration with mobile gadgets is simple. Nowadays, contact management is an irreplaceable part of any CRM solution as it helps businesses establish a strong connection with their customers, understand their preferences and, as a result, create a community of loyal clients. The software has evolved from tracking basic information to interpreting vast volumes of data and actually giving companies a competitive edge.

It’s hard to predict what will be the next step in CRM evolution, however you can definitely say that cloud based technologies will continue to develop and social media integration will become more prominent. In today’s competitive environment where customers have become more demanding than ever, it is crucial for any company to combine business process automation with superb contact management. bpm’online, for instance, beautifully combines the best of both worlds. It is one of the leading CRM vendors in the world because it flawlessly merges excellent marketing automation, sales force automation and customer support automation on a single bpm’online platform. Contact management is taken to the next level of efficiency as the system creates a detailed profile with a 360-degree overview on each of your potential and existing customers. If you feel that your business is ready for an upgrade, you can discover more vital features of online contact management here –

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