Of all the enterprise apps it makes sense to mobilize, CRM is at the top of the list. Both sales people and their customers are spending more and more time on the go and performing a growing number of tasks with the help of a mobile device.
According to Gartner, the CRM software market grew 12.5 percent in 2012, three times faster than other enterprise software categories. And mobile CRM is seeing far greater growth. Gartner predicts that mobile CRM apps will grow a mind-boggling 500 percent by 2014.
Earlier this year, C-suite executive respondents to an IDC survey identified CRM as their most-wanted mobile app. IDC said mobile apps are "part of the core foundation for ICT industry growth up to 2020."
Writing for Business 2 Community, Base Content Marketing Manager Lauren Licata offers four good reasons why sales teams need mobile CRM. She contends, for example, that making CRM mobile increases the odds that sales reps will enter relevant account data into the system. Getting this information into the system is obviously one of the keys to deriving value from CRM software.
Mobile CRM's Customer Connection
Mobile apps don't just make sales people more productive. They also help companies get closer to their customers. A consumer survey commissioned by search/media/advertising company YP found that nine out of10 people "almost always" have their mobile devices with them. About 60 percent of respondents allow mobile apps to access their location at least some of the time – which can create opportunities for location-based promotions.
Writing for Fast Casual, Punchh CEO Jitendra Gupta offers some interesting ways that restaurants can engage with their customers via mobile CRM apps. He clearly thinks that, to be effective, such interactions must include more than general advertisements and promotions. His wish list of functionality that should be available via a mobile app geared toward restaurant patrons: earn and redeem loyalty points/rewards; refer friends; share feedback such as reviews and images; answer surveys; find nearby locations; receive offers at appropriate times; and place orders and make payment.
The data gleaned from mobile CRM apps presents opportunities for continued relationship building, Gupta says, such as sending a "thanks" for a positive review or taking cues from a customer's favorite sandwich to send offers for similar items.
With all of these potential opportunities, it's no surprise that mobile CRM is getting so much attention, from companies eager to implement it and investors who want to fund it. AppMesh, a startup founded by two former Salesforce.com executives that just raised $3 million in a round of Series A funding, does not even offer a desktop version of its mobile CRM software.
In an interview with PandaDaily, CEO Bruce Tenenblat says AppMesh has received some requests for a desktop client, but "not as many as you'd expect."
Social and Big Data Too
Mobile CRM is closely tied to social CRM -- the idea of bringing together sales/marketing, CRM and social – because so much social activity occurs via mobile devices. This helps explain the proliferation of social CRM startups. Just about every analyst has linked the mobile and social trends -- usually throwing cloud in, to boot. Aberdeen Group, for example, coined the term "SoMoClo" to describe it.
Mobile CRM is also tied to Big Data technology, with its promise to quickly sift through large amounts of data, both structured and unstructured, so companies can deliver marketing offers to consumers in the right place, at the right time – and probably often via their mobile apps. Several software giants, including IBM, Oracle and SAP, have incorporated social analytics into their cloud marketing offerings.
In introducing a suite of software called Digital Experience, IBM Digital Experience Software Vice President Larry Bowden said, "To succeed, companies must look beyond websites to create digital experiences that marry analytics, deeper social engagement, compelling content and design for mobile delivery in order to engage audiences on their terms and on their time."
Like AppMesh, startup BloomReach is focused on offering its Big Data and machine-learning technologies in a mobile platform. In a blog post, BloomReach CEO Raj De Datta described the company's goal as "mak[ing] existing mobile sites and applications relevant to each visitor with continuously optimized content mapped to the unique characteristics of both the mobile visitor and the device itself."
When I interviewed Wes Moore, Teradata's vice president of Integrated Marketing Management Solutions, he told me that Big Data could bring IT and marketing functions together. He suggested the two areas could partner on determining the relative value of different types of data and how to best handle each type. And, he said, IT can assist marketing in integrating multiple tools to gain a more complete view of their customers.
Ann All is the editor of Enterprise Apps Today and eSecurity Planet. She has covered business and technology for more than a decade, writing about everything from business intelligence to virtualization.