What Does Mobile CRM Need to go Mainstream? Real World Use Cases

The CRM industry has been talking about mobile CRM for years now. Entire companies have oriented their product lines around it; it’s a routine bit-player in new release notices; the security aspects of it have been discussed at length.

So what’s the one aspect of mobile we haven’t seen? Widespread adoption.

That’s not to say that it is not being used – far from it. There are stories here and there – like this one, about Estes Inc. and a SugarCRM/Compiere integration it put in place with partner Levementum. The thing is, we wouldn’t get so excited about these sorts of implementations if they took place all the time.

Something must be holding mobile back. I think I know what it is – and it represents something of a Catch 22 for the technology. In order for the average user to grasp the possibilities of mobile CRM, that user has to see other users using it. But, since he doesn’t see anyone using it, he never starts using it – nor does anyone else. Until that user sees mobile CRM in use with businesses like his – and his imagination is fired – he himself won’t use it.

So, vendors have to do a better job of communicating what mobile CRM looks like – and, says Marshall Lager, esteemed principal of Third Idea Consulting and the scribbler of the “Pint of View” column in CRM Magazine, that can’t be the same old use cases, because those are not connecting the dots sufficiently.

Marshall says he’s seen lots of great demos by vendors, but “many still focus on mobile CRM as road-warrior tech for the hard chargers of sales or field service — important uses, to be sure, but there are other possibilities. A few enlightened vendors discuss mobile CRM from the customer perspective, in synergy with social tech, which is where I think there are real breakthroughs to be made.”

So there’s the challenge: to find examples of mobile CRM that get people excited about the possibilities. I think we have received our marching orders; I plan on getting some of those stories into the Outsiders in July. Stay tuned…


2 thoughts on “What Does Mobile CRM Need to go Mainstream? Real World Use Cases

  1. Sales professionals are the most logical players to first achieve mobile CRM adoption, but I agree with you that mass adoption has not yet occurred. Sales pros will adopt any tool made available to them IF the tool is i) easy to use, ii) saves them time and iii) helps make them more money. So far, this litmus test is not yet being met. One factor I see across most mobile CRM apps is that they take a lowest common denominator device approach, that is, they support generic browsers rather than optimize for the particular mobile operating system and form factor. This is understandable from development and support perspectives, however, it lessens the user experience, doesn’t contribute to ease of use and does not take advantage of the unique capabilities of any device – capabilities which staff have become accustomed to from their personal mobile use.

  2. There are some difficulties implementing mobile CRM for SMB’s, here are the challenges I’ve seen some companies face when implementing it:
    1. Lack of know-how to maintain continuity. As management software evolves at a different speed than operating systems for mobile devices (ipad, i`hone, blackberry, etc) it is very difficult to forecast and budget the TCO for such investment; CTOs struggle in defining a TCO for such projects.
    2. Mobile CRM is driven by Sales Directors, in many cases they have difficulty justifying the cost of such investments. The challenge lays on defining a clear ROI structure for the project and getting enough money for it. Uncertainty kills this projects before they reach the board.
    3. Mobility is still awkward because it involves Hardware, Software and Telecom Service Providers all combined to provide a working solution, by the time the project director has scoped the need and talked to the telecom provider the technology as already moved forward. (an idea here should be partnering with Mobile manufacturers and telecom providers to create a high value bundle offering)

    My personal view on this is that while optimization for web browsers should be free, apps for mobile devices should be charged separately, they add real value (if nor great value) to the user and the business, thus investment on a “great” app for each individual OS would make sense; in other words, if you are going to make a mobile app, make the best mobile app around, I would have no problems selling tons of it; if the app is not great then is a waste of everyone’s time and a reference of bad quality, hence lessening the value of the brand.

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