Wireless CRM Nears $1 Billion Mark

By  Michael Barbella — November 15, 2006

The wireless CRM market is expected to reach $1 billion this year, as businesses adopt mobility at a surprisingly frenzied pace.

This rapid deployment of mobile applications by businesses has led to an estimated 25 to 30 percent growth rate in the market this year, said Brenda Lewis, a principal at Transactions Marketing, a venture management company in Greenwich, Conn. Additionally, wireless CRM project ROIs are up 45 to 75 percent this year, according to industry statistics.

"The suitability of wireless devices for customer use has contributed to the increase in the growth rate of the [wireless] CRM market," Lewis noted. "I expect that growth to continue."

And there's no telling how long that growth will continue, as businesses realize the benefits of wireless CRM: better customer relationships, faster response times to inquiries and quicker close times on sales deals.

FFF Enterprises of Temecula, Calif., and Suncor Energy of Toronto reaped the benefits of wireless CRM after switching to new mobile business applications.

Field representatives at FFF Enterprises went from conducting sales meetings on paper, Post-its and napkins to carrying them out on BlackBerry devices. The 18-year-old healthcare company uses Salesforce.com to connect its field representatives to customers, sales reports and customer data. The program runs on BlackBerry 7750s and allows field representatives to access cumulative orders on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, and to look up customers' most recent orders.

"Our field reps call it essential now," said Jennifer Wobser, a business systems analyst and Salesforce.com administrator for FFF Enterprises. "Our team loves the seamless online/offline use -- they can work anywhere at anytime. The sales reps can pull up orders right in front of customers."

Wobser said the Salesforce.com application has improved the quality of customer data, sales accounts and product reports. Changes in the program are pushed out to the field, so representatives never have to synchronize data to get the most updated information.

Suncor Energy managers experienced similar benefits after switching to a new PDA-based system to inspect gas stations. Territory managers inspecting sites must go through as many as 300 questions to complete the inspections, which they originally did with paper. When that process became too time-consuming, Suncor gave inspectors handheld PDAs to help them do their jobs quicker. But information still flowed in from the field very slowly. "Sometimes, you'd get the data six or seven weeks after the site visit," said Geoff Le Quelenec, a Web and wireless developer at Suncor Energy Products.

That's when Suncor introduced inspectors to the BlackBerry 6750. The device uses Bell Mobility's 1xEV-DO network to make inspection results available in a matter of minutes. The solution has reduced the time inspectors spend conducting each survey by 33 percent.

"Now we can spot problems in the field quicker," Le Quelenec said.

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