Mobilization's Next Frontier: CRM Applications
by Willie Jow,
Extending applications such as e-mail to smartphones has become commonplace. Now, the next wave of enterprise applications, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and mobile workflow, is coming to the mobile enterprise. And the benefits of mobilizing CRM and workflow applications could be equal to or even greater than mobilizing enterprise e-mail.
Once mobile information workers have customer and critical inventory information at their fingertips at any time and from anywhere, companies quickly realize their return on investment. If mobile workers receive information from back-end systems in real time, they can make better informed decisions and take smart actions based on up-to-the-minute data. For example, they can book orders more quickly and shorten time to revenue, or even negotiate — and close — a sale in a more timely fashion.
The ROI on mobilized CRM is not just anecdotal. According to “Anywhere Enterprise-Large: U.S. Mobility and Business Applications Survey” from The Yankee Group, companies can reap substantial percentage improvements in their business metrics from mobilizing sales force automation technology and services. The research reveals that U.S. companies realized or expected the following benefits with mobile CRM solutions:
- Increased field selling time 28 percent
- Eliminated redundant activities 27 percent
- Increased win rates 26 percent
- Reduced sales call costs 25 percent
- Increased forecast accuracy 25 percent
- Decreased administrative time 24 percent
- Decreased sales cycle 23 percent
Mobile Apps Yield Big Benefits
The ability to share customer information dynamically — in real time — can bring substantial competitive advantage to a company. The specific benefits of mobile CRM may differ depending on what department or business unit the mobile worker is in: management, sales, support or human resources.
For top managers, mobile devices and applications can increase the effectiveness of a CEO or corporate officer if they are able to tap into critical corporate data out of the office. Having a dashboard view of key customers, for example, will help them make on-the-spot decisions in a deal or negotiation. Additionally, they can provide better advice to sales teams if they can look up pertinent data, such as margins or order history, while on a customer sales call.
Mobile applications that give managers the ability to handle approvals such as time sheets and sales discounts on the fly can speed workflow, allowing the executives to make the best use of their time on other -- more high-level -- tasks.
As shown from the Yankee data, sales teams can reap significant benefits from mobile CRM. While on the road, a salesperson with access to the enterprise CRM system can be more productive and provide better customer service. They can push business forward more quickly by entering orders on the go. Sales executives get an accurate picture of sales activities and revenue streams when their salespeople enter customer data onsite rather than weekly or monthly input back in the office.
For support teams, automating trouble ticket and service order applications for delivery directly to a technician’s mobile phone streamlines support and eliminates wasteful printing costs and processing time. Customers benefit from shorter time to resolution, and technicians are able to serve more clients or customers per day with automated dispatches sent directly to their smartphones.
Human resources groups and administrators can benefit from mobile workflow tools that allow employees to submit time sheets, vacation forms and expense reimbursements from a mobile device. The HR team can use mobile apps to reduce approval time for these workflow tasks, which makes for happier, more satisfied employees. These internal processing efficiencies can, in turn, lower costs associated with these everyday workflow processes.
The Industrial (Mobile) Revolution
Just as the benefits of mobile CRM will vary by department, the efficiencies and gains will also be unique in each industry segment. Some industries, including health care and finance, are primed to adopt mobile applications. And manufacturing plants could also experience significant benefits from mobile access to corporate applications, including inventory and workforce automation.
Looking first at health care, at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) in March 2010, conference attendees received almost an overwhelming array of examples of how embracing mobility could improve patient care.
Nurses, for example, may soon enter patients’ blood pressure, temperature, weight and other vital statistics directly into a mobile device. Patients may receive wireless monitors when they check in for procedures that automatically record their blood pressure every 15 minutes. In these environments, the data on the mobile device is continually synced with the central database, ensuring health care personnel have an accurate — and current — picture of the patient’s health.
Financial services is another arena primed to adopt mobile tools and apps. Accessing CRM and other core business apps on portable devices will help traders react quickly to market changes. As price quotes and quantities fluctuate, having access to accurate, real-time data on mobile devices such as a smartphone is imperative to helping a trader or analyst make smart decisions quickly.
In manufacturing, plant managers with mobile access to a inventory database can determine — on the spot — whether that broken valve on the production line is in stock. Better yet, if a plant uses RFID tags on its spare parts, plant managers with a GPS-enabled smartphone can not only verify availability, but also determine exactly where (which closet, shelf and bin) they’ll find the part they need. The faster the production line is returned to service, the greater the daily output, and the better the revenue opportunity for the corporation.
Mobile Apps Boost the Bottom Line
Making CRM and mobile workflow applications available 24x7 for roving information workers will empower them with accurate, up-to-date data. Whether the mobile worker is in management, sales, or support or works in health care, finance or manufacturing, the results are the same: A corporation or organization can experience a significant ROI on mobilized enterprise apps. Companies that implement the new wave of mobilized CRM and workflow applications across a number of different devices will benefit from increased business intelligence, better customer service and improved productivity.