Increasingly, CRM vendors are incorporating geofunctionality into their offerings. It is a must-have marketing technique for brick-and-mortar retailers competing with e-commerce providers.
While that use is indeed still a big driver, vendors are also beginning to view it as a technology that has multiple CRM-related uses, such as a complementary technology for contact management.
Geolocation apps such as Foursquare have substantial networking potential, noted Jon Ferrara, CEO of Nimble, who recalled once trying to track down a contact for a webinar he wanted to host.
“He lived in New York, and I was having trouble getting hold of him,” Ferrara told CRM Buyer. “Then I saw he checked in at a local restaurant. I commented on it, he commented back, and the contact was made.”
Nimble just incorporated Foursquare into its social discovery feature set.
Geolocation is also an excellent technology for workforce management and field services management applications, John Lucker, principal for Deloitte’s advanced analytics and modeling sector, told CRM Buyer.
“Deloitte, for instance, has trained its employees to call into a 1-800 number whenever there is a disaster or incident in which it needs to account for its employees quickly,” he said, citing Sept. 11, “but an app that could detect employees’ whereabouts quickly by their phones would also fit that need.”
The Marketing Piece
For the most part, however, combining geolocation and CRM still means marketing, usually in a retail environment. Shoutlet, a self-serve social marketing platform, is another vendor that has incorporated Foursquare into its offerings.
Other vendors use Foursquare, et al., as information sources to be tapped. Radius, a provider of sales intelligence on the SMB market, is an example of this strategy.
Bluewolf is another example of a company using this technology in its implementations.
“Field reps can get actionable data pushed to a geolocation,” Jesse Endo, director of the innovation center at Bluewolf, told CRM Buyer.
Many sales force automation applications allow users to pull up contacts based on location. However, newer-generation applications and integrations are becoming more creative with that model, thanks to geolocation.
Bluewolf built a field sales enablement application on top of Salesforce.com. It pushes relevant data to sales reps while they’re in the field. It is a subtle, but very key, distinction from requiring the rep to pull up information on the device.
The most ubiquitous use case, though, is marketing — especially in the retail environment. That said, a surprising number of retailers do not have this functionality. For many retailers, it is a matter of incompatibility with existing infrastructure and point-of-sale systems, EachScape COO Marci Weisler told CRM Buyer.
Indeed, many smaller retailers are more innovative in this area than the entrenched national players, she said, because their infrastructure is more flexible.
“Some of the top names in retail have embraced geolocation, but there is a surprising gap in the middle tier,” noted Weisler. “I think we will see more of that in the next 12 to 16 months, especially as CRM continues to embrace the technology.”
There are other challenges, however — at least with a wide-scale deployment, Deloitte’s Lucker said.
“I think a lot of companies are still concerned about privacy issues and possible regulation in this area,” he observed. “Companies have been watching this and like the idea of geolocation, but they are waiting to see how it will play out.”