The Secret to Mobile CRM SuccessKeep it Simple!

Christian Wettr, President of CRM company W-Systems Corp, offers advice to businesses looking to choose a mobile CRM system for their field sales force 

Mobile CRM is rapidly becoming a must-have for field sales and
service organisations as they realise the tangible ROI that can be
achieved through reducing office-based administration and enabling
personnel to manage routine tasks and real time reporting in the
field. But with a growing number of mobile CRM solutions available,
many organizations are in danger of choosing over-complex applications
or irrelevant mobile extensions of existing CRM systems.

My advice is as follows: Keep it simple, both for the mobile users,and for your IT administrators.

The Virtual Business
According to the Gartner Group,
there are just under 60 million mobile workers who are away form their
workstations for at least 20% of the working week. And with recent
reports suggesting that mobile CRM will grow to 20% of total CRM
revenues by 2010, many organisations are now revisiting their current
CRM provision as the virtualization of business processes and
procedures draws ever closer.
The reality is that more and more
mobile devices are able to access high speed Internet, and with an
increasingly mobile workforce, flexible work patterns and a rise in
home office workers, it is clear that there is a demand even in small
and medium sized companies for a new virtual office hub, where
information can be shared and analyzed across all channels of the
organization in real time.

Keeping customers happy
Modern business practice has demonstrated that is typically more cost- and time-efficient to cross-sell and up-sell to existing customers than to acquire new business contracts. Therefore the most effective mobile CRM system should take things far beyond simple email and text, delivering the ability to access and manipulate customer information in real time and to conduct transactions remotely.
Organisations have invested heavily in process improvement and information technology. Mobile CRM is an opportunity to extend that investment to users who operate in the field outside the office environment. Ultimately, a good mobile CRM system will enable users to better serve their customers by providing them with an enhanced sales experience where they are provided with real time information, answers and results.
By eliminating the dreaded: Ill have to check on that and get back to you response, customer queries can be immediately resolved or scheduled for resources back in the office. Customers are left feeling satisfied with the meetings progress, representatives are shown to be more in control of the sales process, and the relationship is seen to be more transparent and therefore trustworthy.
And we all know that happy customers are more loyal, spend more, refer more and are less likely to switch to competitors.

A leaner business
Ipsos Reid & Microsoft reported that 84% of professionals felt that mobile devices would increase their productivity and profitability In fact, many companies have reported positive, measurable ROI statistics after implementing a mobile CRM application, and the most common benefits reported by users include reduced office administration and desk-based tasks, lower operations costs, and an increase in revenue through improved sales and staff productivity.
Mobile CRM is a crucial part of developing a leaner, more profitable business, and by providing accurate, real-time statistics, management can conduct regular analysis at any time and identify potential opportunities and areas for concern, and act on them immediately.
Mobile staff are given greater freedom, flexibility and customer account management, whilst also raising the bar of accountability through the knowledge that management has access to their current status reports and progress at all times.

Choosing the right time for mobile CRM
Ideally, companies should review potential mobile CRM applications before they need them to enable a greater analysis of the most appropriate solution for the business. But realistically, a company needs to implement a system as soon as any of its employees need access to customer and transactional data whilst out of the office.
From an individual users perspective, the right wireless CRM solution should support multiple device platforms (be it a laptop, PDA or other mobile device) to enable users to choose whichever platform best suits their circumstances. At an organisational level, it should allow flexible, scalable accessibility of information across the entire business network, with the ability to adapt and develop as the business evolves.
Here are some points to consider before buying a mobile CRM system:

Plan ahead

Plan ahead and take time to decide what your organisation needs from its mobile CRM system before you need it, and review the various options. Mobile CRM applications are relatively new so make sure you understand the new and unique value propositions of various solutions and evaluate the benefits your organization may receive from these solutions. 
The Mobile CRM market is expected to see rapid growth over the next few years as organisations embrace the positive results that such technology can provide to the overall profitability and productivity of the business, and so even if you dont think you need it right now, you should probably start considering the options soon.
As mobile technology and device platforms are continuously evolving, make sure that you do not bind your CRM effort to a very specific hardware or software operating platform. As systems such as BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, Apple iPhone and Google Android develop, you can be sure your remote users will be asking you to provide support for their devices.

Focus on the real world requirements
Avoid getting caught up in fancy features and applications that will not be used in a mobile environment. Be realistic and understand what information and transactions your users will actually need to access in their mobile CRM system.  A user on a mobile CRM system is very sensitive to how features and information are presented to them as they are operating on-the-run on a device with a relatively small screen and keyboard. It is good practice to conduct a business process review involving your mobile workers prior to purchasing a mobile CRM system to ensure that it meets all your business requirements.

Does the mobile CRM application meet your security requirements?
Security cannot be compromised, so ensure that the application meets your basic security requirements and supports your existing CRM systems security concepts.  The system should meet the Ooops – I left my mobile device in the taxi test.

Ease of navigation
Mobile CRM operates on small devices with small screens and small keyboards. It is crucial to ensure that the system is easy to navigate in order to encourage a high adoption rate by staff. It would be disastrous to go to the expense of implementing a system which users find difficult to use and as a result simply dont use it. Measure the start-to-finish times of key tasks such as looking up a contacts phone number, retrieving a list of todays scheduled calls, or entering a new contact.

Speed of implementation
How quickly can the software be installed and fully functional? Can it be ready in hours, days, weeks or months? Does the mobile system need specialist consultants for implementation and ongoing support, or does it utilize commonly-available IT skills? What will the day-to-day administrative impact be on the supporting IT department? How easy is it to add users after first implementation?  How easy is it to replace a lost device for an existing user? These are all questions you should ask in order to ensure you know what you are buying before you make the commitment. 

Is it scalable?
Ensure that the system is flexible and adaptable enough to grow with the business. The last thing you need is to realise you need to change your system as soon as business processes change. Make sure that the system can operate with large databases. Small devices do not have the computing and storage capabilities of your office servers, so what strategies have been implemented to accommodate large information needs?

The decision to include mobile CRM in the process mix is an exciting new opportunity, and with an increase in the mobile workforce and the radical improvements in business productivity and profitability available to those who do implement mobile CRM, organiszations are well served to start evaluating mobile application strategies in the short term.