Mobile CRM


How Mobile Can Help CRM Get Past Its Adoption Issues

If Winston Churchill had been a CRM pundit, he may have penned the immortal turn of phrase, “never in the course of human events have so many paid so much to have so few use an application.”

That would have made him a pretty awful CRM writer. But give fictional Winston a break — it is difficult to summarize the ongoing struggle with user adoption in a concise way.

After 20 years of the acronym, CRM’s effectiveness is still being sapped by less-than-complete adoption. This is caused by a host of reasons — uninviting user interfaces, wretched roll-out strategies, sloppy use enforcement policies, and CRM designs that are designed for managers at the expense of front-line users chief among them.

These are old problems, and ones that are frustrating to see perpetuated year after year. But there is hope on the horizon — and it comes in the form of mobile CRM.

Space Discipline

Mobile has the potential to jump-start adoption for a set of distinct reasons that bypass the hassles of tethered CRM (for want of a better term).

Firstly, mobile demands a much cleaner, more concise interface. The real estate of the desktop monitor has made interfaces the victim of data display sprawl. But just because you can fit data fields on the screen doesn’t mean you should; often, less is more.

Mobile hems in that real estate space, and it forces a certain degree of economy. Since decisions have to be made about what’s going to be on the main screen, the interface has to be carefully reimagined, making for a more efficient and more user-friendly experience.

Not only is the interface more to the user’s liking, the device itself is more likely to be liked, too. The BYOD trend means that users no longer have the opportunity to blame the hardware for making their experience less than optimal; they selected it themselves, so they’d best like it — and if they don’t, they can go pick up a different phone or tablet. If the CRM application is up to snuff, it ought to be able to handle different mobile formats; BYOD makes this all but mandatory for a modern CRM application.

Data on the Go

By its very nature, mobile plays up the benefits of CRM by giving salespeople access to the data they need where and when they need it. When your CRM is locked up on your desk, the data you need is stuck back in the office; when it’s at your fingertips, its utility is immediately apparent. It makes it perfectly clear why you put all this data into the application in the first place: It’s there to help you, not to help your manager.

The flip side of this is that there’s no need to head back to your desk to record sales data. Mobile allows sales people to add information as it happens, allowing them to spread out the CRM data input task across their days rather than to save it up for an end-of-the-day cram session. Even if it doesn’t make the amount of work significantly less, it does change the perception of it — and it allows the data to be recorded sooner to its collection, resulting in more accurate and more detailed data.

It’s Just the Way We Do It Now

Finally, mobile is simply the way people work these days — they expect their business applications to be delivered via a mobile device. Being forced back to a desktop or a laptop is anathema to an increasing number of CRM users, especially younger ones.

All these reasons speak to mobile CRM’s ability to present a more enticing, more useful and more enjoyable experience to users. And ultimately, they finally spell out the “what’s-in-it-for-me” for CRM end users, which may finally start to break down the adoption barrier. As phony CRM writer Churchill would have written, mobile may not be the end of the beginning of CRM adoption issues, but it may signify the beginning of the end.

CRM Buyer columnist Chris Bucholtz blogs about CRM at the CRM Outsiders. He has been a technology journalist for 17 years and has immersed himself in the world of CRM since 2006. When he's not wearing his business and technology geek hat, he's wearing his airplane geek hat; he's written three books on World War II aviation.

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