Mobile Vs. Offline CRM

We are still seeing huge interest and uptake of Sugar 5.1 thanks in part to the very cool updated mobile capabilities. With the growing acceptance of the mobile web browser as the de facto interface for mobile business apps, coupled with the iPhone becoming increasingly “enterprise ready” the SugarCRM mobile story is complete and rolling strong.

But given the fact that people are still not 100% connected to the network 100% of the time (planes, dead spots, etc.) there is still the need for offline CRM access.

A lot of people confuse offline access (or Offline Client as it is usually called in product form) with mobile CRM. The two are different. For one, offline access can mean you are using your laptop to access your CRM system while not online, where mobile CRM tends to mean use of CRM functionality via a mobile device (though not always).

But more important, when using a true mobile CRM system you are directly accessing the server, eliminating any possible data synchronization issues while on the go. With offline client use, there is still the issue of the changes you make to your data are independent for the master record sitting in your master version of the CRM system. (Think of it this way – if you’re on a plane altering records, and someone with access to them is changing the same records at headquarters – later on the change record history will have to be accessed if any contradictory changes have been introduced to the record.  This is a moot point with mobile CRM.)

A lot of CRM provider tend to mash these terms together when selling a CRM product. it is pretty easy to create a data sync offline client, but a truly “live” mobile version that is device agnostic, deploys instantly and can be customized – that is another concept altogether.

For some of us, the difference between mobile and offline CRM is clear, but others may make CRM deployment decisions without this knowledge and find themselves without needed functionality or having to do an expensive customization down the road.

The iPhone: Making CRM cool since 2007…