When the first commercially affordable mobile phones arrived on the technology landscape nearly 20 years ago they were met with a sense of awe and wonder. Some of us remember the first flips phones like the Motorola StarTAC or the indestructible Nokia candy bar phones.
“Mobile is becoming not only the new digital hub but also the bridge to the physical world. That’s why mobile will affect more than just your digital operations — it will transform your entire business.”
- Thomas Husson, VP, and Principal Analyst at Forrester Research
While futuristic when originally released, we can now look back at the primitive functionality and basic user interface as almost comical when compared to products on the market today like the iPhone and Android mobile phones, tablets and smartwatches (not to mention the entire Internet of Things they integrate with). Today’s most advanced handheld smartphones possess more computing power than IBM’s famed Deep Blue, the industrial monolith that took up an entire room to house and a dedicated staff to develop and operate, and that famously defeated international chess master Garry Kasparov in 1997.
What makes these smartphones so impressive are the vast array of capabilities that we often take for granted because they have always seemingly been with us. Some of these features that lend themselves incredibly well to mobile CRM are email, imaging, and GPS.
Mobile CRM use cases are many. Whether used by field sales professionals, field service technicians, claims adjusters, traveling executives or various other staff, these devices can be employed for inspections, surveys, image capture, quotes, sale orders, opportunity updates, time reporting, documentation, training and a wide variety of customer situations. Additionally, CRM developers have allocated more resources for the development of these platforms so that they are expressly designed for mobile use. Many of the first mobile versions of CRM platforms were simply scaled down versions of their desktop offerings that made for a poor user experience because of a lack of visual real estate and too many modules or options to consider.
The best mobile CRM platforms take into consideration their end user and what data is most important to them. Simplicity and ease of use are usually key factors. For example, a Regional Sales Director who spends much of his week in the field calling on customers will probably be using modules like Accounts, Contacts, Opportunities, Email, and Call Logs most frequently. Companies find that when they choose a mobile CRM platform that addresses these needs of their employees that spend a great deal of time outside the office they see increased productivity and increased sales and an improvement of data quality and CRM adoption rate. These are all incredibly important metrics for any organization looking to stay competitive in an ever-changing landscape where mobile continues to grow at a pace faster than traditional desktop PCs. Having the right information at the right time can make the difference between closing and losing the sale. What was once seen as a “nice to have” feature in a CRM has quickly become a requirement for many organizations who realize that business is increasingly happening outside the office and the need to provide their employees with technology the flexibility and extensibility to ensure their success.
With billions of devices already in use globally there’s no uncertainty that mobile will continue to shape our lives and how we do business. Smartphones will also play an increasingly important role in emerging markets where economics and infrastructure will contribute to making mobile the first choice for the next generation who engage with technology and shape the world around them. As mobile grows as a platform, so too will the need for a CRM that understands the unique nature of this portable universe of possibility. Advances in automation, machine learning, relationship intelligence and business intelligence will be fueled by an ecosystem of connectivity that at its core will be the cornerstone of business tomorrow. Businesses simply cannot afford to wait for this eventuality to come to them if they want to stay vital and relevant in the digital marketplace. Mobile for CRM has arrived, and those who harness its power will lead their organizations to the next frontier, and those who wait on the sidelines and ponder its significance may find themselves in the ash heap of history wondering what to do next. Simply put, mobile CRM may be the single biggest investment you make in the continuing success of your organization, so choose wisely – the future is now.