Mobile CRM: Do It Right or Don't Do It at All


One of the great uses of smartphones in the enterprise is to extend back office customer relationship management (CRM) packages to the field. The ability to do everything (or most things) in planes, trains and automobiles that can be done in the office is talked up by vendors. What they don't mention is that it creating such a platform isn't easy, and that a bad one probably is worse than none at all.


The devices are there. But as vital as they are, they only account for one side of the equation. The applications must be ready as well. NewsFactor takes a look at business-oriented CRM as part of a broader view of applications delivered to advanced cellular devices. The writer says that business CRM is more evolved than the consumer side of the application business. He provides examples, such as FrontRange Solutions' GoldMine Mobile 3.0, OpenSpan-which mobilizes legacy applications-and Maximizer software.


This is a potentially lucrative sector, and there is no shortage of activity. For instance, last month MyCaption released an inexpensive means of speech-enabling e-mail and calendar items for BlackBerries. The writer notes that BlackBerry owner Research in Motion and other smartphone vendors are investing significant sums in developing CRM apps for their platforms. They realize that the spiffiness of their devices only goes so far. The equally important issue is whether prepackaged and custom applications perform smoothly and offer the functionality businesses want.


TMCnet provides some insight into what users need in their mobile devices. The focus is on the real estate business, but what the writer says is universal. After running through the potential benefits of mobile CRM, she writes that applications must be carefully written to meet users' needs. That seems obvious, but it is important to remember that there is less margin of error in terms of processor power and memory on a mobile device. It is vital that those writing the applications know precisely what the end user needs. The bottom line is that mobile applications aren't helpful if they are not as powerful and functional as those in the office.


The organization must be willing to spend the money and time to do mobile CRM right. Implementing a program is far easier if proper planning is done beforehand. This We Blog CRM post says that the key steps are to carefully analyze the organizations' needs, to carefully design the layout of the device screen that will be used, and to perform adequate testing. Once the rollout commences, the company must spend adequate time training users and review results carefully.


Mobile CRM is not growing just in the West. Indeed, the fact that the science of mobility is far ahead in some regions outside the United States means it makes sense that mobile CRM has at least achieved parity elsewhere. The sector dynamics seem the same in India, where this MBA club india piece was written. The writer finishes with a nice list of the advantages of mobile CRM: Faster responses to customers; greater efficiency through automation; and better understanding of customers. The latter advantage includes the ability to spot the most lucrative customers and better understand and use feedback.


Mobile CRM has great potential. The reality is, however, that business tools -- especially complex ones -- only realize their potential if they are implemented correctly. The best advice on mobile CRM is to do it right, or not to do it at all.