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Chuck Schaeffer The Top 10 Mobile CRM Applications

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 By Chuck Schaeffer

CRM Systems are Morphing Customer Relationship Management, Social & Mobile

Mobile Customer Relationship Management (CRM) has thus far been more of a discussion topic, or perhaps a CRM vendor press release opportunity, than a tool routinely leveraged by customer facing staff. However, with consumer devices making their way into the enterprise, and CRM vendors following with innovative solutions, I'm confident we're approaching a legitimate era of more pervasive mobile CRM computing.

Mobile CRM use cases are many. Whether used by field sales professionals, field service technicians, claims adjusters, traveling executives or various other staff, these devices can be employed for inspections, surveys, image capture, quotes, sale orders, opportunity updates, time reporting, documentation, training and a plethora of customer situations. After a review of over 50 CRM-related mobile apps, here's my short list of The Top 10 Mobile CRM Applications.

  1. & Chatter has set the bar by integrating CRM to mobile to social. While the SaaS CRM pioneer has always provided a competitive mobile CRM solution, with some dashboards that I find uniquely helpful, the company continues its innovation by blurring mobile with social. For example, as a prior software company CEO, there was always a subset of sale opportunities where I wanted immediate updates of any changes, but with limited time, a demanding travel schedule and a decentralized sales force across multiple continents it was tough to keep tabs on these opportunities in real time. Enter's Chatter which permits sales managers, CEO's and other time starved and remote or traveling participants to "follow" an opportunity, just as they would follow Facebook contacts and tweets. When unexpected or threatening changes to critical opportunities alert a mobile device, the sales participants can act quickly while such action can still make a meaningful difference.

  2. SAP Business ByDesign
    The SAP Business ByDesign mobile solution may be the most intuitive and comprehensive mobile solution I've ever used. From my iPhone I was able to navigate the entire ERP & CRM system, modify my views, check inventory availability at multiple locations and create new sale orders without a lot of clunkeyness or mistakes resulting from small form factors and fat thumbs. The downer is that the access is limited to iPhones, however, SAP plans support for BlackBerry, Android and Windows Phone 7.

  3. SAP Business One Mobile App
    SAP's business management software for small businesses, SAP Business One, is accessible as a mobile application for Apple devices, and delivers system wide access and functionality from any location at any time. The mobile application, which can be downloaded from the iTunes store, permits users to view their activities, check inventory availability or customer credit limits, access reports, receive alerts, and process approvals. The mobile application's delivery comes a month after SAP released its mobile version for its SaaS Business ByDesign solution.

  4. SugarCRM's iPhone App
    Just after the SAP mobile releases, SugarCRM launched its new CRM suite Sugar 6 which included a native iPhone application, international support and languages, and social CRM. The new Sugar Mobile for iPhone application adds to the existing mobile capabilities in the suite, and enables users of Sugar 6 to access and interface with their CRM system as a native iPhone application, even including software customization capabilities. The new release expands upon the symbiotic relationship of mobile and social to include a Twitter Connector that enables SugarCRM to monitor the Twitter stream for any contact or company as well as Sugar cloud connectors and social feeds which enable the sharing of any type of external data, including video, and social networks content.

  5. iPad
    Okay, tablets and touch screens are neither new nor apps, but Apple has clearly garnered such a level of never before reached device enthusiasm that they have to make this list. Further, these devices are not just for consumers, they are clearly making inroads in the enterprise - for field sales, dispatched technicians and may any other staff traveling to meet with prospects and customers. In fact, the iPad is a classic example of how consumerization is affecting corporate IT. Gartner's list of the Top 10 Technologies for 2011 includes "Mobile Apps and Media Tablets" so expect this to manifest itself into a much bigger trend toward ubiquitous computing devices and increased demand by mobile work forces.

  6. Research in Motion's Native SAP CRM
    RIM and SAP partnered to develop a mobile CRM experience that truly maximizes the RIM form factor and the user experience. According to RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie, "Native information access changes things on a quantum level. You've seen what it does for PIM [personal information management] and messaging. The question is why we didn't do it natively earlier. We had to create the APIs, a partnership and framework, and a go-to-market plan." CRM is the first SAP release on the Blackberry, however, the roll out of enterprise software apps will continue. "CRM is just the start," said Bob Stutz, SAP's EVP and GM, who indicated BlackBerrys would eventually have native clients for SAP's full ERP, supply chain and industry applications.
  7. NetSuite's Expense Reporting
    In large part due to their front-to-back office integrated ERP and CRM systems, NetSuite leads the pack with a closed loop expense reporting process that can begin on your mobile device. It's also a very sophisticated expense reporting program, permitting approval processing, deducting advances, allowing multiple currencies and billing client reimbursable expenses back to customers. For companies using other CRM software suites, the number and usefulness of mobile powered expense reporting solutions grows by the week. Expensify and Concur deliver smartphone powered expense reporting apps to streamline expense tracking for both road warriors and accounting staff. iXpenseIt and ExpenseManager offer mobile expense tracking and reporting tools for iPhone, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile and other smartphone devices.

  8. Facebook and Social Networking
    A study from Ruder Finn reveals that 91% of mobile phone users go online to socialize compared to only 79% of desktop computer users, and mobile phone users are 1.6 times more likely to manage their finances compared to traditional desktop users (62% versus 39%). According to Kathy Bloomgarden, co-CEO of Ruder Finn, "Mobile phones have become the way people organize their lives, managing finances, connecting with friends, purchasing products, and this trend will only accelerate. The mobile phone is becoming the most powerful online device, and the faster businesses can adapt their services to harness consumer mobile intent, the more rapidly they can capitalize on understanding their customers to drive growth."

  9. Foursquare
    The intersection of mobile, social and location is becoming a busier place. Geo-location services such as Foursquare, and soon Facebook Places, can offer field sales, business travelers and others with proximity based hotel recommendations, restaurant reviews, local news, community events and nightlife recommendations - all based on peer reviews. Mobile location 'check-in' is fast becoming the new online status message update. With this new location as a service becoming more pervasive every day, it is only a matter of time until 'where you are' becomes a social stream to deliver added value with other social CRM or social media tools, just like 'who you know' has on social networking sites like LinkedIn or Facebook. The merging of GPS-enabled smartphones and location-based services is certain to breed a new array of social CRM opportunities.

  10. FlightAware Flight Tracker
    Perhaps this useful utility made the list because of my recent excessive travel delays while trying to make it to Dubai. With the challenging state of airline travel and continual rise of flight delays, it can be helpful to know where your plane is. Just knowing whether the plane for your delayed flight is at the gate or hasn't yet left the connecting airport can give you a big leg up in waiting it out or altering your travel plans. It's a whole lot better to wait out a flight delay from home rather than find out after you've arrived at the airport. The free for iPhone FlightAware Flight Tracker tracks both commercial and private planes. You can search by airline name, flight number or route. For some in flight entertainment, you can view the app's tracking map that follows your flight and displays the plane's speed, altitude, and more.

Please share if you've found a mobile app that aids your CRM processes or just makes your job easier. End

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Comments (10) — Comments for this page are closed —

Guest amorodomi
  In addition to FlightAware, FlightTrack is another iPhone/Android app ($4.99) that allows you to see where you delayed airplane is. The maps are available even when offline.

Guest Jen Griffin
  When did facebook become a crm or business app?
  Chuck Chuck Schaeffer
    I think Facebook became both a business app and a social CRM channel when customers began to engage each other, and their suppliers, on this social network - at least for those businesses that choose to contribute to their customers online conversations. Prosumers are growing and the lines between personal and business activities and networks are blurring. Failing to communicate with your customers, wherever they choose to communicate, is a lost business opportunity for many - or a source of competitive advantage for those that choose to engage.

Guest Armond Grossman
  CRM mobile apps need to be much more functional, and much less trendy.
  Chuck Chuck Schaeffer
    Perhaps. I suspect their are user profiles, possibly IT people or tech savvy users, that prefer more functionality and more sophisticated feature sets. However, I think Apple's iPhone is a powerful testament that there are many other user profiles, including business people, who prefer less functionality, and more ease of use, intuitive navigation, elegant design and a simple but rewarding user experience.

Guest Stan Abramson
  On those few and far between business trips where I get a chance to purview the scenery and take home some pictures, I've found the iFone Guys' Panorama app (iPhone, $9.99) is outstanding for capturing my travels on a larger scale. You can choose between portrait or landscape modes, snap your photos and then use the app to stitch them together. The app automatically aligns, color-corrects, and blends the photos for you, taking the guesswork out of creating seamless wide-scale photos.
  Chuck Chuck Schaeffer
    Nice suggestion Stan, thanks.

Guest Frank James
  Check out Batchbook. It's light on traditional CRM software capabilities, although covers most of the bases that sales people actually use, and its strong on social CRM, including integration to social networks for sales staff to more closely track their prospects and customers.

Guest Craig Tulley
  The Sybase Mobile Sales for SAP's CRM and ERP systems deliver sales staff fast, mobile access to SAP Business Suite data from mobile devices.

Guest Harold McGladrey
  I use PepperMob as an extension to my application. It's available on the Apple iTunes App store and on the AppExchange. Links to contacts, LinkedIn, Documents and News. Also makes data available offline.


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This mobile CRM review clearly shows that CRM systems are morphing traditional Customer Relationship Management, social media and mobile computing into a single, productive and portable user experience.


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