Tablets and CRM, Part 2: Revolution in the Making
GE Capital has an iPad app, based on Salesforce.com, that integrates geospatial data to let mobile sales reps know which customers need attention and where they are. It is a simple, yet impressive example of a company using tablets and CRM functionality to improve its internal productivity.
While certainly not dismissive of its capabilities, many companies would not put the necessary energy into developing it.
It's a sad fact that a direct focus on productivity is often missing when companies mobilize their CRM apps and outreach. Understandably, given the demand and expectations among their customers, companies tend to view mobile CRM as a channel to communicate with customers or as a way to let sales reps access their systems from the road.
Few companies, though, are really plumbing the depths of tablets and mobile CRM's potential for productivity -- at least not in the manner that GE is doing.
The Stumbling Block
Why aren't companies looking at tablets in this light? One explanation is that the potential gains are amorphous at best. Meanwhile, the low-hanging fruit -- mobile sales, mobile marketing -- beckons.
"Tablets and other mobile telecommunications are creating the fourth industrial revolution," James Berkeley, managing director of Ellice Consulting, told CRM Buyer.
The third was the integration of information processing with productive machinery such as aircraft, medical instruments and automated production tools, he said. The second industrial revolution dealt with fractional horsepower motors and machines, such as central power stations, typewriters and the automobile.
"Unlike the prior industrial revolutions," noted Berkeley, "we are witnessing an impact on the human organization and its production process" -- not exactly a straight-line proposition.
It is definitely not a one-size-fits-all business case, Ian S. Gertler, president and CMO of Symplegades, told CRM Buyer -- but then little in interactive marketing, advertising and collaboration has been to date.
Still, companies -- and their smart and capable employees -- have made intuitive leaps in this area, he said, sometimes by happenstance -- often by design.
As companies embrace cloud computing and the new advances in data, social and mobile, CRM is automatically transforming itself as well, Gertler pointed out.
"By removing the obstacles and barriers of the always-connected workforce, productivity, efficiency and bottom-line results can be positively impacted," he said. However, "technology can't fix disengaged people that don't have any real interest in being part of a team and their successes."
It may be easier to leverage CRM-enabled tablets to make productivity leaps than you realize, Gertler suggested. His advice? Keep the focus on the end-user. "The focus must always be about people connecting with other people to provide value."
Corporate buy-in and support are essential if companies want to see an investment in tablet technology improve productivity, maintained Dan Roche, VP of marketing at TalkPoint.
"If the enterprise supports tablets through apps, software, hardware, WiFi and other complementary pieces, they will drive adoption and results. If a company is dedicated to tablet use and makes it clear it is not just a trend, they are guaranteed to achieve better results in a CRM scenario."
Find Your Super Users
Companies should empower super users to inspire others within the organization, Roche said.
"If someone is only mildly engaged or not familiar with the benefits of using the tablet to work faster and be more thorough, CRM will sputter," he said. "However, if you have super users that are engaged with the technology and can access all types of information on the go, then there will be a recognizable difference in CRM results."
The Security Piece
Enthusiasm and corporate buy-in will only take people so far if the necessary security and permissions are not in place, said Rama Kolappan, director of product marketing at Accellion.
"Radical improvements will only be seen with a fully integrated security system," he told CRM Buyer, "as users in this space need to be able to collaborate with and respond to customers instantly on the go."