Mobile devices have transformed the way that we live and do business, and mobile applications are as hot a topic as any in the CRM world at the moment. So hot, in fact, that it's getting difficult to muddle through all the hot air coming from various vendors. There are two terms in particular that should make CRM decision makers raise a sceptical eyebrow: “Out of the Box” and “Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)”.
Some CRM vendors will lead you to believe that they have all the capability you need “out of the box,” but the reality is that, today, most vendors' mobile offerings don't meet today's business needs without extensive customisation, work-around or bolting together different applications. Many vendors claim that they can meet sophisticated mobile needs, but their solutions require deploying multiple apps on users' devices, each independent and disconnected from the other apps, and each with its own upgrade schedule and maintenance requirements.
Similarly, while the promise of “Bring Your Own Device” sounds appealing, it's not always a sustainable business model for either the vendor that provides the service or the company that deploys it: "While BYOD programs can reduce costs, they typically do not. BYOD is not for every company, or every employee. For the vast majority of companies it is not possible to force all users into a bring your own (BYO) program without substantial financial investments." (Gartner, 2012)
This is not to create a false impression that Microsoft Dynamics CRM necessarily offers better out of the box or BYOD mobile solutions. We face the same challenges as all of our competitors do, but we're taking a different approach to mobile. We're putting people first, not devices. Our philosophy is that our customers should be able to get the information that they need anywhere, at any time, on any device. We believe that companies should be able to configure the app once and use it on any device.
This philosophy is the foundation of the vision that we're building towards, and we're building at an impressive pace. Today, like some of our competitors, we offer web browser access on mobile devices, such as iPad, iPhone, BlackBerry and Android, as well as a Yammer mobile app for social collaboration. For more specific needs (e.g. native multi-device support) we have great partner solutions.
Additionally, in our next release, we will be delivering hybrid native/HTML5 apps for Windows 8 as well as Apple, and adding additional platforms (e.g. Android) in rapid succession. These apps will support native look-and-feel, a ubiquitous process-based experience (particularly for road warriors), native collaboration actions, and more.
Instead of out-of-the box promises or cobbled together solutions, we're selling you an approach built on steady, responsible innovation. Companies don't need an iPhone app, or a Windows Mobile app: their people need the information that they need, when they need it, wherever they are. Instead of reacting to the devices we see today with one-off fixes, we're building a platform that will meet the needs of the people who use it, no matter what device they're holding in their hands. That's not just good planning; it's awesome.
Here are some questions that you should ask the vendors that you are considering for CRM:
- How many mobile applications are needed to address my sales team's needs?
- Does the mobile application cache recently viewed data to allow users to see information when offline? Does this application have a separate price?
- Show how a sales person could draw up a list of accounts or opportunities.
- Does the mobile application allow dashboard views, and is the application different from main mobile CRM app? Describe how a sales manager would drill into dashboard results to the underlying records.
- Describe the workarounds, customisations and additional costs associated with delivering a mobile solution that meets my specific business needs and processes.