Social CRM Evolution vs. Mobile CRM Revolution

CRM technology — along with the way we use it — is going through an interesting patch ofdevelopment right now. In part because mobile devices are now delivering on theirpotential, there’s a renewed vigor around mobile CRM. At the same time, becausethe case for social media’s permanent status as a critically important component ofhow we deal with customers, social CRM continues to gain attention and energy.

There’s a lot written about the convergence of these two trends, and I agree thattogether they are far more powerful than if they had evolved sequentially. But I alsothink that social and mobile represent different things — and that may help CRMusers prioritize their investments around them.

Getting Mobile Right

Mobile CRM is an evolutionary step. It takes what we’ve been doing in CRM andmoves it out of the office and into the field, but it doesn’t change the nature of CRMor the tasks that CRM users need to carry out to make CRM work.

It changes whoinside the business is affected by CRM — field service personnel, for instance — but itdoesn’t change the nature of the data you track or the signals from customers youneed to track.

Social CRM is revolutionary; it signals an entirely new volume of data that you needto track, which requires changes to the way you think about your customers andthe people in your company who deal with them. It also forces you into dealing withconversations with the customer, the nature and volume of which you may havenever imagined.

That’s why CRM vendors right now are working so hard to get mobile right — ofthe two it is the easiest to comprehend and the quickest route to revenue. Talkingto executives at the CRM vendors, it’s clear that many CRM buyers are excitedabout social, but they make buying decisions based on mobile.

Social is an item onthe checklist, but it’s not there because most buyers have social CRM strategiesjust waiting for a technology. Instead, businesses are buying CRM that has socialcapabilities, then hoping to gain clarity around a social CRM strategy that can utilizethose capabilities.

That seems like a hazardous approach, but it actually makes some sense — especiallyif you realize that the vendors are all feeling their way toward delivering social CRMcapabilities too.

CRM Psychology

But mobile is different. As one vendor’s CTO said, “social opens the door to a sale,and mobile closes it.” Mobile is far easier to get your head around. You know CRM?Well, this is CRM on a mobile device. Concept successfully transmitted.

Besides being easy to understand, mobile confers other advantages on a CRMimplementation. For example, adoption is the great killer of CRM investments, butcoupling mobile CRM with the trend toward “bring your own device” (BYOD) mobilestrategies now delivers CRM to salespeople on devices of their choosing.

This is amajor psychological change in how CRM is perceived; instead of the applicationsalespeople are forced to sit in front of at the end of the day, it’s something they canuse right in the field in near real-time on the device of their choosing — and it candeliver data useful in selling when and where the salesperson needs it.

The “what’sin it for me?” question for the salesperson is answered much more quickly, andadoption rates increase as a result.

Taking Flight

Security concerns are increasingly fading as vendors attack that area of resistance,and the result will be a mobile CRM boom in the near future. The only downsideof that is that the social CRM revolution may lose energy as the mobile CRMevolution produces results.

Those results are important, but they shouldn’t keepyour business from moving forward with exploration of a social CRM strategy aswell.

Mobile is like a new freeway that you can speed down toward your goals, butsocial is like an airplane; it requires different thinking, strategic changes to theorganization and a new way of viewing the process of going from opportunity tosale. As promising as mobile may be, it’s smart not to skip one of the trips.

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.

1 Comment

  • Good article. However Mobile CRM can be taken to the next level i.e.CRM is seen as a Customer facing application and not just a employee application.

    And reg. the integration to Social CRM, more than the volume of data, the context of the data is important. And hence there needs to be a bigger BI exercise around it rather than a technical Integration effort.

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