Mobile CRM Keeps Your Sellers Selling

By  Tony Kueh, Senior Director of Product Management, Sybase — September 13, 2010

Odds are that almost every salesperson in your company carries an Android, BlackBerry, iPhone, iPad, Windows Mobile, or some other mobile device. And not only carries one, but relies on it all day, everyday. This current set of devices has the power and functionality that rivals most laptops. Are you leveraging the full potential of these devices? You should.
 
The mobile revolution is about the ability to access data regardless of when you need it, how you need it, or where you need it, but going mobile with customer relationship management (CRM) applications is about much more than convenience. It's about bottom line impact: helping your sales staff to be more efficient, more productive, better informed, and able to make more sales, faster.
 
At the same time, with so many devices and operating systems available, and employees often supplying their own devices, mobilizing your business data presents significant management and security concerns. The fast-paced nature of the mobile industry, with new devices and technology continuously hitting the market, can present a serious challenge in terms of implementing a mobility management infrastructure.
 
If you approach going mobile as a strategic initiative instead of as a point solution, one way to take advantage of the opportunities without having to compromise on security and scalability is through a mobile enterprise application platform (MEAP).
 
A platform-based approach can provide reliable data access for a variety of device types and associated operating systems (OSes), the control you need to keep proprietary information safe, and the agility to respond to whatever new technology or business changes the future holds.
 
Why you need mCRM
Mobile CRM, or mCRM, gives your sales team the ability to access must-have customer information on their mobile devices while they are on the road, on a business trip, or at a customer site. They can focus on selling regardless of where they are, place orders on the go, and close sales faster, shortening time to revenue as a result.
 
mCRM typically provides two-way access to enterprise systems: it gives salespeople the ability to see contacts, accounts, leads, analytics, and inventory from their mobile devices. Furthermore, it allows them to enter orders and update customer records from the field in real time.
 
The ROI on mCRM is not just anecdotal. According to The Yankee Group's "Anywhere Enterprise-Large: U.S. Mobility and Business Applications Survey," companies can reap substantial percentage improvements in their business metrics from mobilizing sales force automation (SFA) technology and services. The research reveals that U.S. companies realized or expected the following benefits with mobile CRM solutions:
--Increased field selling time: 28%
--Eliminated redundant activities: 27%
--Increased win rates: 26%
--Reduced sales call costs: 25%
--Increased forecast accuracy: 25%
--Decreased administrative time: 24%
--Decreased sales cycle: 23%
 
As sales are at the beginning of the pipeline, having accurate customer data more quickly provides organization-wide benefits. With salespeople connected to their enterprise CRM system, they can provide better customer service from the road, give executives real-time updates about sales activities and revenue streams (rather than weekly or monthly input back in the office), and provide project managers with the advanced notice they need to plan ahead for resource requirements.
 
Supporting multiple devices
Until recently, many organizations kept their mobilization initiative simple by supporting a single mobile device. Nowadays, that's just not feasible due to the proliferation of new devices on the market. Employees are buying the smartphones they want and using them, with or without support. The simple fact is, IT departments are supporting multiple devices, like it or not.
 
Unlike the PC market, which is dominated by one OS, almost every smartphone has its own OS, which complicates managing multiple devices. If you take a mobile enterprise platform-based approach, you can provide reliable data access for a variety of device types without writing custom code for each one. Unless your company is small, it's not feasible to handle each device physically, let alone wrestle them away from your sales team long enough to perform setup and maintenance.
 
You need mobile technology, processes, and procedures to provision devices, track hardware inventory and software licensing conformance, and manage access to applications and data. A mobile enterprise application platform-based system enables you to centrally (and often remotely) manage a broad range of device types from a single interface.
 
Managing for security
There's no question about it: security is key concern. Mobile CRM requires broad access to networks, databases, and critical enterprise applications. Couple that with device portability, memory, and storage capabilities, and you have a tremendous potential liability for unsecured data. Managing security is critical.
 
If you're not using a mobile enterprise platform, supporting multiple devices further complicates the picture. You'll likely have to coordinate a number of security and anti-virus services and software. With a mobile enterprise platform, you can supply and manage software and services from one central console. Administrators can even set up remote "data fading" that automatically wipes out data on a device if it has been reported lost or stolen, or is inactive for a certain period.
 
Managing user access rights provides another ongoing challenge: when people change jobs within the company or leave for other ventures, it's more common for them to take their devices with them. A mobile enterprise platform makes it possible to set and change access rights according to a worker's profile.
 
Hopping on the mobile bandwagon
There's no question about whether you need to go mobile or not. The benefits to your sales team, customers, and larger organization are too big to ignore. The only questions are "when" and "how."
 
A mobile enterprise application platform provides support for managing and securing multiple device types, access rights and software licensing. Most importantly, it allows you to develop and deploy a successful mCRM initiative today, having confidence that you'll be able to respond quickly to whatever changes come along tomorrow.
 

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