Enterprise Apps

NetSuite Brings CRM Apps to iPhone

NetSuite is the first of the Software as a Service (SaaS) vendors to introduce support for Apple’s vaunted iPhone. Called “SuitePhone,” it provides native support for Safari, the iPhone’s browser, as well as NetSuite’s own product line and its role-based dashboards.

Using SuitePhone, users can remotely access invoicing, accounts receivable and payroll. CRM users can enter leads, file expense reports, view contacts and even place quotes and orders. E-commerce operations can also be managed through the iPhone.

CRM on the Move

The iPhone might finally do for mobile CRM what CRM vendors could never quite achieve — making mobile CRM a ubiquitous function throughout the enterprise. It also meets what has been until an unfulfilled demand in many parts of the business community — integrated business applications that can run in the Apple environment, according to NetSuite CEO Zach Nelson.

Early reports from NetSuite users agree that the iPhone marries well with a CRM app. The combined product is able to resize Web pages and use drop-downs easily. “I have already used it successfully to enter and approve sales orders, make deposits and check inventory,” said Brian Keare, COO of Circle of Friends.

“I have tried other mobile solutions in the past and been frustrated,” said Mort O’Sullivan, president of ArcaTech Systems. “The iPhone is the first device that has a user interface that makes it a pleasure to work with web pages [like] NetSuite’s.”

Bandwagon Forming?

More CRM vendors, including SaaS providers, can be expected to introduce similar functionality. Indeed, a few niche providers have already rolled out such applications.

CRM vendors recognize the ergonomics of the iPhone and how it can add value to their overall product lines, Rebecca Wettemann, vice president of Nucleus Research, told CRM Buyer. “It is an incredibly friendly, beautifully made device,” she said. The intuitive interface can be a big help for users that are navigating typically complex applications like mobile CRM, Wettemann added.

Some Hesitation

Mainstream vendors, though, may not be too inclined to invest heavily in adapting their CRM application to work on the iPhone. There are some issues that still need to be resolved — namely security. Hands down, the BlackBerry is the most secure device from which to send an e-mail.

Also, there are likely to be software and hardware updates that vendors will have to address, Wettemann noted.

SuitePhone capability and native Safari Browser support are available at no additional charge in NetSuite’s new NetSuite 2007.0 release, which is currently rolling out to existing customers. It will be available to new customers in August.

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