Two weeks ago, I wrote about companies' interest in offering employees access to enterprise apps, notably CRM and business intelligence, on mobile devices. I referenced recent moves by SAP and IBM to open several of their applications to BlackBerry users, offered a mini-case study of Pitney Bowes' use of a third-party app to port data from its CRM and ERP systems to the handhelds of more than 3,000 workers, and shared tips for evaluating mobile CRM solutions.
I followed up with a second post that included some expert skepticism about the broad adoption of these kinds of mobile apps. Back in July 2006, I had expressed some skepticism of my own, noting that few companies were using mobile CRM despite its fairly obvious appeal of keeping on-the-go sales reps and others in close contact with customer data.
InfoWorld blogger Bill Snyder sees a "perfect storm" (he admits the metaphor is tired) brewing to get vendors more involved in mobile CRM. Among the drivers: better connectivity, more powerful devices and more flexible development tools.
He offers an example of a developer using an API from a start-up called Ribbit to create a mashup that converts voice messages into text and automatically inputs the data into Salesforce.com CRM systems. Users can remotely view the data or add new information. Slick, yes?
Snyder notes that SugarCRM is adding several cool mobile features to the latest iteration of its software, coming later this month. Among them: Module Builder, a tool that helps non-techies create new modules based on Sugar's core logic. And, like many other observers, he sees SAP's move to make its CRM applications (and possibly others) native to the BlackBerry as a big boost to the concept of more robust mobile apps.