Worldwide customer relationship management (CRM) software totalled $20,4-billion in 2013, up 13,7% from $18-billion in 2012, according to Gartner.

“High levels of end-user investment in digital marketing and customer experience initiatives were the primary growth drivers of the market in 2013,” says Joanne Correia, research vice-president at Gartner. “CRM will be at the heart of digital initiatives in coming years. This is one technology area that will get funding because digital business is critical for companies to remain competitive.”

Strong demand for software as a service (SaaS), which represented more than 41% of CRM total software revenue in 2013, was driven from organisations of all sizes seeking easier-to-deploy alternatives to replace legacy systems, implement net-new applications or provide alternative complementary functionality.

Competition intensified as major players continued to vie for broader market penetration internationally, and more widespread functionality adoption within midsize to large enterprises. The top five CRM vendors accounted for 50% of CRM software revenue in 2013. continued to be the largest vendor overall in the CRM market with 16,1% of the market. SAP remained in the number two position in the overall CRM space, but is still the leader in terms of revenue and market share for the sub-segments of customer service and e-commerce.

From a regional perspective, Western Europe had strong growth of 15,2% in 2013, and North America continued to drive the bulk of the revenue share (52,9%) for the overall CRM market.

These two regions represent almost 80% of all software spending on CRM technologies. In these markets infrastructure for cloud/SaaS deployments are more mature, and customer retention and acquisition continue to be main drivers of the focused build-out for the major vendors and on-premises software that is being upgraded.

The emerging Asia/Pacific and Greater China regions experienced less-aggressive growth, but they still reached double-digit growth rates. The regions are far from maturing, but are impacted by a slowing macro-economy, and influenced by notable depreciation of some local currencies such as the Indian rupee and the Indonesian rupiah.

The communications, media and IT services vertical industries are the largest spenders on CRM because they focus on large groups using call centre technologies. They also invest more to improve analytics-related areas and improve/provide more consistent customer experiences. Manufacturing (including consumer packaged goods) is in second place, with these companies using CRM for product and channel management.

Third-ranked is banking and securities, in which customer service and upselling to other financial products are core to growth.