Mobile CRM Podcast—Trends, Best Practices & A Deployment Approach

Bill Band

Forrester Research Thought Leader Bill Band In His Own Words

Mobile CRM—Converging Trends, Best Practices & A Recommended Deployment Approach

William (Bill) Band, VP and Principal Analyst for Forrester Research, shares highlights and best practices from his recent mobile CRM research. He also discusses specific use cases and business processes empowered by mobility, describes a five step mobile deployment approach and identifies the pitfalls to mitigate when planning your mobile CRM project.

"To date, the missing link in CRM applications has been the ability to make it easy for remote workers to get the information they need when they need it in the field or to collect the information while its fresh and feed it back to the organization."

— Bill Band

Key take away points in the discussion with Thought Leader Bill Band:

  • Bill's research suggests that Mobile CRM adoption has reached a tipping point – and mobility has become a corporate priority. In fact, Forrester surveys completed over the last 12 months seeking to understand companies highest priorities have found that over 50% of responders say that supporting mobile devices for their employees is a key priority. This seems to be in line with other macro indicators such as Morgan Stanley's Research that forecasts smartphone sales exceed PC sales and tablets outsell PCs.
  • The two primary drivers converging to accelerate mobile CRM adoption are new mobile technologies and the morphing of consumer technologies into the enterprise. From a technology perspective, the emergence of ubiquitous high-speed broadband connectivity, smartphones, and tablet devices with vast computing power and longer battery life, along with increased employee adoption of touchscreen devices like the iPhone, iPad and BlackBerry have empowered employees and consumers with devices to connect them with the companies they work for or the companies they buy from, and to an extent liberate IT from the desktop.
  • From the consumer perspective, mobile technologies and devices adoption have become ubiquitous and employees who are consumers in their private lives expect similar mobility from their employers—and those employers are viewing mobility as another option in their continuous push for improved labor productivity.
  • When planning mobile CRM adoption, the stakeholders can be categorized into either (internal) employees or (external) consumers. From an employee perspective, stakeholders are further segmented into senior management who are most interested in leveraging mobility for staff productivity gains, task workers who desire real-time access to information while executing customer facing business processes, and managers who want to act on process approvals and view management information from mobile devices. Bill's research describes mobile CRM best practices, and the most critical success factor for mobile CRM deployment as understanding each stakeholder and user group roles, information requirements, and daily tasks, and then pinpointing the use cases where mobility solutions can drive practical business value.
  • As compared to laptops, mobile devices are less costly, always on, and support connectivity to GPS services for location awareness. This empowers mobility-driven use cases and business processes that can deliver big impacts to mobile users and their employers, such as:
  • Helping sales people make more sales calls by using mobile geo-location services to plan territory visits and use location or proximity to more effectively map and route their customer visits. Mobile CRM for traveling or field sales people also enhances lead, prospect and opportunity management—by providing on demand customer and contact data access for call and meeting planning, creating quotes, initiating sales orders (with signature capture), checking inventory updates, and beginning the workflow approval processes all while at the customer site or in the field.
  • For field service and repair technicians, mobility can deliver routing and real-time scheduling for customer visits, aid technicians in taking pictures of equipment or local environments, view support or warranty contract details on site, review product repair history or record maintenance activities, capture signatures for work approved or performed, schedule follow-up activities or next visits, and transmit records back to the head office for review or billing.
  • Life sciences and other companies are taking advantage of iPads and other tablets larger form factors, very strong visual effects and instant-on capability to perform on-site demonstrations and better deliver data and information about clinical studies and the like.
  • Traveling executives want too respond to alert notifications, see information and performance results that requires their immediate attention, act on process approvals (i.e. approve new customers contracts, sale orders or employee expense reports) and otherwise have access to business intelligence (BI) so corporate planning need not wait until they return to the office. These executives often like to view mobile BI in the form of dashboards which display the key performance indicators (KPIs)—and real-time alert notifications based on exceptions, activities or metrics exceeding threshold values—that they seek to monitor periodically throughout the day.
  • Enabling out of office staff with alerts, notifications and real-time information as well as empowering those staff to share information from the field, initiate system processes closer to the point of origin and decrease business cycles creates a sustained savings and bottom line impact.
  • In his Forrester research report, Best Practices: The Right Way To Implement Mobile CRM, Bill identifies a five step strategy used by successful mobile CRM adopters. The first step in this approach is to identify stakeholders and understand the user groups information needs. From there, you can determine the specific and measurable business objectives. For example, are you looking to extend adoption of the existing CRM system with new mobile access or are you looking to enable new business processes that were not previously available. With this information, you're in position to define a mobile CRM strategy which considers technology, architecture and infrastructure as well as governance policies, design standards, the user experience and information security.
  • With the strategy, you can then choose the best fit technology or mobile CRM software solution considering such additional factors as browser-based versus native mobile apps, speed and performance, and online or offline access. Finally, the fifth step is to define and adhere to a correct implementation approach taking advantage of IT project deployment best practices such as assembly of the right team, defining project scope and establishing the right timeline—and then progressing through project stages such as pilot, training and roll-out.
  • Some mobile CRM solutions download and sync the data to the device in order to support offline information availability – while other mobile CRM solutions do not. Over time, as mobile networks become more pervasive, the need to download and store data on the mobile device will lessen. However, there are many business cases where the absence of offline support will render the mobile device inoperable. For example, in many life sciences or government locations wireless services cannot be turned on; or access may not be achievable from inside a manufacturing plant.
  • Bill identifies several mobile CRM pitfalls, that if recognized in advance can be mitigated, and include a lack of understanding for the activities of the user group you're trying to support (and how a mobile device can make their work more effective), under-estimating the need for offline mobile support (to support those use cases where connectivity is not available) and failing to fully engage users in the design and plan for mobile deployment.

The next podcast discussion is with CRM thought leader Michael Krigsman.