Why the Growth? - Customer Relationship Management

Sheryl Kingstone is making a powerful and unequivocal statement. But she has good reason. Some of the issues that mobile CRM had,from processor power to bandwidth issues to poor user experience on a small screen,have been eradicated or are close to annihilation.

One of the most important factors is,oddly,the energy crisis. You would think this was just the opposite. High oil and gas prices means less travel,thus less mobile,thus less need for mobile CRM. But we do live in Bizarroworld where logic often is turned on its head. As a result of the energy problems,more workers are working from home and need to be available via their cellphone as they do their local things while working. There is an important integration of home and work life going on in combination with employers recognizing that their employees are happier when they can work at home. Companies like Rearden Commerce are successful because of their knowledge of this.

Mobile services have become increasingly comfortable for the bulk of the population. For example,according to the Pew Internet and American Life April 2009 survey on wireless activity in the U.S. 56 percent of Americans have accessed the Internet wirelessly. Thirty-two percent of those did it via a smartphone like the BlackBerry or iPhone or via their cell phone. What makes this even more telling is that 50 percent of the respondents said they are dependent on wireless access to stay in touch with friends and to get information.

Technology advances are moving lightning fast and the ones that matter to mobile users are the ones that increase data transmission speeds. The 3G top data transmission speed was reached on May 8,2008,by mobilkom austria using Internet High Speed Packet Data Access (I-HSPDA),which reached 10.1 megabits per second—a super 3G rate.

But that’s a piker of a rate when you realize that Samsung is experimenting with a pipe that reaches 100 megabits per second wirelessly in a car moving at 35 mph,which is the equivalent of being able to watch six TV stations simultaneously. Even more staggering,in a fixed location,in the same project,they reached 1000 megabits per second—10 times that rate! On a more earthly plane,after fits and starts,Sprint has been investing in 4G WiMax technology,which will bring high speed wireless connectivity.

Mobile Enterprise Adoption Accelerates
There is confidence in mobile growth especially for business reasons among almost all layers of the population. This extends from the largest enterprises to small and medium businesses (SMBs) to even government agencies. In fact,the government agencies in several surveys are the fastest adopters.

Back in 2005,Forrester Group,in “Mobile Application Adoption Leaps Forward,”made the following surprising statement:“Large enterprises are adopting mobile applications faster than planned.” They went on to say that 39 percent of the largest enterprises planned to adopt wireless e-mail or the BlackBerry and 51 percent actually did. This was the forerunner of what Forrester analyst Ellen Tracy called an adoption rate starting in 2008 of “ubiquitous technologies,”like mobile enterprise applications and devices,as one moving into the mainstream.

But by 2008–2009,mobile adoption had superceded even Tracy’s optimistic picture. Forrester’s related 2008 survey of small and medium business adoption shows that the SMBs are adopting mobile applications at the rate of 38 percent all in all. What’s even more interesting is that they are adopting sales force automation (SFA) mobile applications and field service mobile applications at the rate of 16 percent—which is a healthy and better than expected chunk. Further proof has been the staggering number of iPhones that have been bought by an adoring global public. From their third quarter 2007 release to third quarter 2009,Apple sold 26,378,000 iPhones of the 2G,3G,and 3G (S) varieties. Yet RIM and the BlackBerry still hold the lion’s share of the market with 55.4 percent of the market as of first quarter 2009,according to IDC’s Mobile Market Tracker,which shows you how mainstream mobile adoption has become.

So there is a predisposition toward mobile CRM applications and the adoption rates are serious enough to merit a real look at the new applications and the future ways that mobile Social CRM can be deployed. But there still are some concerns. Listen to industry veteran and president of w-Systems,a mobile CRM development company,Christian Wittig. He makes some seriously good points here.

Mobile CRM is undergoing a first generation product trial. Buyers are extremely interested to evaluate and identify products that will allow them to expand their CRM deployments to mobile users but are uncertain of which mobile CRM product characteristics to look for. Buyers do not have the benefit of previous mobile CRM experience and thus do not have the benchmark of previous product failures or successes to guide their evaluations. Since it is such a first time buying experience it is very likely that history will repeat itself and that we will see many failed initial mobile CRM deployments just as we saw many failed first time CRM deployments. Mobile CRM buyers should remind their CRM vendors of this situation and press for detailed product demonstrations,proofs of concept,and other risk reduction elements.

When considering mobile CRM solutions the buyer is faced with evaluating applications on a completely new platform (the mobile phone) which has unique and somewhat extreme usability characteristics (small screen,small keyboard). Both buyers and vendors are attempting to arrive at the tipping point of requested and offered functionality where mobile CRM emerges as a natural and expected component of an organization’s CRM software portfolio.

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