Alltel Tailors CRM Mobile App for BlackBerry

Alltel has joined the ranks of service providers offeringmobile customer relationship management functionality to their business customers. The wirelesscompany has introduced SalesNOW, a contact,activity and deal management Web app designed for the BlackBerry mobile device.

Most of the application’s features relate to contact managementor productivity functionality. Users can track and manage deals from theirBlackBerry handhelds, build detailed customer profiles, capture activitiessuch as tasks or memos to the device, or link e-mails to a particulardeal.

Users can access their data through the Web — via their BlackBerry device orthrough an individual SalesNOW account. Other features include acalender application, e-mail tools and contact-tracking functionality.

Synching data — always an issue in a mobile environment — can be doneeither when a mobile user makes a change online or when a change is made to the SalesNOW database in-house.

Limited Success

SalesNOW is hardly the first application tailored for the BlackBerryenvironment. One competing product, for example, is MobileEdge, a mobile CRM application that allows any organization to extendits applications wirelessly to BlackBerry devices. Mobile Edge forNetSuite, for SugarCRM, for Microsoft and for Lotus Notes have allbeen released.

Despite these pockets of success with certain applications, the CRMindustry has yet to see a wholesale adoption of this technology as itonce was envisioned. Field service apps, yes. Mobile sales functionalitythat requires little effort on the part of a rep to stay in touch andup to date? Not so much.

The culprits behind this disappointing lack of momentum over the yearshave been CRM applications cut to fit a mobile environment instead ofbeing developed for it from the beginning, poor user adoption (aproblem for any type of new project, to be fair) and a lack ofleadership among vendors, wireless carriers, telcos and systemintegrators. All, in other words, have been taking their own approachto mobile CRM.

Tipping Point

The result is a rather cynical potential user base. Still, mobileCRM may finally be at the tipping point, according to Sheryl Kingtone,an analyst with Yankee Group.

Over the past year, there have been several large pilot projects at firms that arenow moving to wider adoption, she told CRMBuyer. Also, many of the wireless carriers nowautomatically offer all-you-can-eat data-pricing plans, which makes anenterprise rollout of these applications more attractive.

Furthermore, more companies are realizing the valuea mobile add-on can bring to an earlier investment — especially for hugeprojects like Siebel implementations.

“With most of the latest mobileCRM applications, no rip and replace is required,” Kingstone said. “Theyoverlay onto the existing CRM application very nicely.”

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