Not Your Father's CRM

— September 01, 2006

Imagine you are a sales professional about to enter a client meeting. Moments earlier, through a handheld device, you received real-time, accurate information including product availability, order status and competitive intelligence for you to utilize at the point of customer interaction. With one-touch access, delivered through a variety of handheld devices, the above scenario not only becomes reality--it becomes your next sale.

Now more than ever, organizations need to provide their salesforces with real-time access to vital customer and partner data residing in front-end systems. Selling within a 24x7 global environment breeds demand for more timely, pertinent customer information that can mean the difference between a multi-million dollar sale and a no decision. CRM and SFA applications, long the lifeline between sales and the organization at large, have emerged as one of the more recent departure points for an organization's mobile access initiatives, but what are the primary factors driving companies to invest in m-CRM?

Recent research conducted by the Aberdeen Group suggests that the reasons are part operational and part strategic. Operationally speaking, 63 percent of organizations investing in m-CRM are doing so to provide sales professionals with access to real-time content. Armed with this data, sales professionals are given a decisive, competitive advantage that helps them to better engage with their customers and to shorten the sales cycle. Strategically, organizations that are looking to become more customer-centric are investing in m-CRM to not only improve customer satisfaction but to address customer requirements at the point of interaction.
Organizations are starting to see clear benefits from m-CRM. The top benefits cited by companies polled by Aberdeen are: an increase in sales productivity (71 percent) and improved communication and collaboration.

Remote access to customer-critical information stored within CRM and SFA applications facilitates effective collaboration between critical stakeholders within the organization. Several organizations reported using mobile access to improve the sales planning and forecasting process.

The m-CRM marketplace is still young and burgeoning. Organizations looking to invest in mobile access to CRM or SFA applications should define business goals prior to evaluating and deploying a solution. Aberdeen Group research shows that 78 percent of organizations are building a business case through a pilot program. This viral approach to m-CRM deployment allows organizations to garner support for their investment in m-CRM directly through the line of business--protecting against low user adoption rates.

Companies should evaluate the overall scope of their implementation and determine whether organizational needs require a point solution offering access to one application, or will they be better served by implementing a multi-system solution offering access to multiple applications. Lastly, organizations should also evaluate company viability. The CRM marketplace has undergone a good deal of consolidation over the past decade, and there is reason to believe that consolidation may affect the m-CRM marketplace as well. //

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