The Mobile CRM European Market Remains First in Global Adoption
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By Alison Diana
Mobile + CRM = A Map to Success in Western Europe
Workers around the world are leaving their desks and walking away from their offices – with 50.3% of European employees predicted to be mobile workers by 2013, according to research firm IDC. And that means European businesses must find customer relationship management software solutions that leverage mobile platforms, hardware and services in order to provide their staff and clients with the best level of service and support.
After all, Europe is expected to lead the mobile migration, surpassing the total number of mobile workers in the United States and elsewhere in the world, the research firm predicts. These employees represent office-based mobile workers; non-office-based mobile workers, and home-based mobile workers.
No matter where they work or travel, European businesses continue to invest in CRM and smart phones–and expect the two to integrate and leverage each other's strengths for synergistic results. It's natural to hop a train from France to Spain, a plane from Switzerland to Portugal, or a ferry from Ireland to England. It's equally natural to spend travel hours conducting business, and that means relying on a mobile device to stay in touch with the home office, colleagues, customers, suppliers and partners.
"The CRM application market in Western Europe was remarkably resilient during the 2009 economic downturn and ended with a total value of $4.7 billion," said Bo Lykkegaard, research director in IDC's European Software and Services expertise center. "Some of the key trends in IT today, such as Software as a Service, online channels of customer interaction, unified communication, the Social Web, and smart phones, are opening up new ways of managing customer relationships as well as revenue possibilities for packaged CRM applications."
In regions such as Western Europe, more than 70% of all mobile subscribers will be using smartphones by the end of 2015, according to Informa Telecoms & Media. Symbian and Android will be clear leaders in Western Europe in 2015, the researcher forecasts.
In the Cloud
Cloud computing has enabled a bevy of international and European-based software developers to provide mobile-enabled CRM solutions, out of the box. These cloud-based offerings are accessible anywhere an employee works, whether it's in an office building, a home, a client's site or on a train. Secure and full-featured, many of these software-as-a-service (SaaS) CRM applications give authorized users access to critical data, including customer account information, sales forecasts, inventory availability, order status, payment history, and product specifications.
By giving employees immediate access to this type of data, customers get instant answers–and satisfaction while staff avoid growing their to do lists once they get back in the office and also reduce cycle times. These cloud-based CRM solutions also make it easier for sales representatives to up-sell new or add-on products or services, leading to larger average ticket amounts and improved revenue.
Salesforce.com offers Force.com, a software development platform which provides ubiquitous support for mobile devices and allows an organisation to easily customise the user interface for any type of user or role, whether it's a sales manager, marketing executive, customer service agent, or anyone else in the company. With the Force.com cloud platform, an organisation's CRM software and website work together seamlessly so client data captured on the web flows directly into the CRM application and gets routed to the right person.
Software AG, for example, deployed Salesforce CRM for approximately 1,000 staff in 70 countries to act as its primary system of record for sales, marketing, pre-sales, professional services, and other customer facing lines of business, according to the software giant. The company also implemented the Force.com cloud-computing platform, as cloud-computing is Software AG's global standard for Customer Relationship Management, providing sales managers and sales reps with comprehensive visibility — online and offline — to sales leads, opportunities, and accounts. After all, many Software AG employees and executives work on-the-go, needing access to information from multiple locations, and rely on mobile CRM in order to work efficiently and effectively.
Many other leading CRM vendors such as SugarCRM, NetSuite, Oracle On Demand and SAP's Business ByDesign offer similar ubiquitous mobile CRM solutions and customisation platforms — each trying to leap frog the other by providing seamless integration, native support for each popular mobile device and immediate support for new releases of each mobile device, including tablets such as Apple's iPad.
For the Small Screen
Some mobile CRM software developers look to differentiate their mobile CRM solutions by the way in which they address the form factors and small screen sizes of smartphones and PDAs.
When, for example, the sales team at Maquet's Cardiac Assist division prospected for new customers of its patient-monitoring systems, the Swedish firm faced challenges in how to boost productivity and streamline processes. Reps needed to be on-site and at attention so hospital administrators and nurses could be fully trained and comfortable handling the system, yet agents also needed to log call reports and cross reference the status of a hospital unit's monitoring system with the customer service division at headquarters. Often, the division's 80 reps had to perform status checks, price checks, and log call reports through their laptops or by phone while away from their desks.
The company opted for a mobile CRM solution based on BlackBerry smartphones and iEnterprise wireless Mobile Edge CRM web-based software. The solution is also available for iPhone and Windows Mobile, according to iEnterprise. "CRM systems aren't normally designed for the small screen of your BlackBerry. It's just too much information for a device to handle. Coupled with sole browser-based technology, it could mean long data look-ups, slow or lost connections, and needless scrolling on your BlackBerry to get to the piece of information you want," according to the developer.
"Mobile Edge uses a thick client server, which means the most relevant CRM data can be retrieved, updated, and is stored on the device and your host server. Both online and offline access are fast and easy and the screen can easily accommodate information that is job specific and top priority," the developer added. "The flexible design enables changes quickly via configuration settings, not costly or difficult customisations."
Mobile CRM is Like GPS for Customer Service
A well-connected workforce is a major differentiator for any business. Employees who can answer questions, quickly and correctly, deliver satisfaction–and, satisfied customers may become loyal customers, rewarding good service with contracts and their continued business. Equipping an increasingly mobile workforce with access to mobile CRM systems is generally a sound business decision.
No one would send-out delivery van drivers without a GPS. Why would a company consider sending the face of their organisation–their salespeople and support personnel–without mobile CRM?
The CRM application market in Western Europe was remarkably resilient during the 2009 economic downturn and ended with a total value of $4.7 billion. Some of the key trends in IT today, such as Software as a Service, ... the Social Web, and smart phones, are opening up new ways of managing customer relationships as well as revenue possibilities for packaged CRM applications."