I recently wrote a blog around Mobile CRM as part of blog series ‘CRM Trends in 2011’ and got some good feedback from peers. This blog extends the conversation by taking a closer look at what options are available today for CRM 4.0 and some best practices around how you can select the solution that works for you.
There is a whole spectrum of Mobile CRM (mCRM) solutions when it comes to Dynamics CRM. Here is a brainstorming chart listing out the solutions that I am familiar with:
Rather than reinventing the wheel, I researched the web for existing blogs and found Mobile Options for CRM v4, a blog post by Collins Computing Inc. that is well written and can provide you with a good starting point. The brainstorming chart has two additional mCRM solutions – iDrm Suite & Resco MobileCRM. Check these links for product details:
I am certain this chart is not exhaustive. Please share other options that you are aware of and I will be glad to update the chart.
Best Practices for Selecting Your Dynamics CRM Mobile Solution
Develop your mCRM strategy
Mobile computing is expected to take off in 2011 and the trend will continue in subsequent years. Analysts are calling it the next hardware wave (mainframes and PCs being the previous two). It is safe to assume that as a business or technical decision maker you will be soon expected to have some sort of mobile roadmap for your users if not a well defined strategy. Having a roadmap or a strategy in place would help you execute the rest of the steps.
Find Your Business Requirements
It can get confusing pretty quickly with so many options out there in the world of Dynamics CRM. Getting a handle on what your true needs are is always a good idea when you start any new IT project. In mCRM, even more so. If all you need is contacts and activities syncing, you might be just fine with outlook to mobile syncing.
Define your Technical Landscape
Are you looking for offline access? Are you thinking a solution that will be device agnostic? Are you looking to customize the mCRM experience? Do you have the technical expertise to implement and maintain the solution? Are there any concerns around data security or privacy?
Plan Your Implementation
Mobile is an evolving platform (both technically and functionally) and no one really knows what would it look like in 2014. It is ok to define a broader roadmap but execute in steps as long you have the processes to keep aligned with changing business needs. Using incremental and agile solution rollout might just help you in lowering the initial costs as well (remember, some of the options can be implemented without additional licensing cost). This might not be true in all cases and you actually might have a business case for all out mCRM adoption. In the end, follow what works for your organization.
Risk mitigation is always a good idea. I would strongly recommend to have a formal identification of risks as well as associated mitigation. Anytime you think of mCRM with an ISV, you might want to research additional details around the ISV - Has the ISV been around for long? How does the ISV supports the application? Who is your point of contact (ISV or Partner)? Can you customize or extend the ISV application? mCRM also has a serious risk of user adoption. The average consumer is increasingly getting used to mobile applications that are sophisticated, fun and easy to use. You possibly could run a risk of user rejection. You might want to check one other risk that was called out in a recent NYT article "Gadgets Bring New Opportunities for Hackers".
I hope this blog post was able to provide you some food for thought. I think Microsoft has a lot of ground to cover when it comes to mCRM. The good news is that Windows Phone 7 offers Dynamics CRM a HUGE chance to stand out (after all, Microsoft is the only vendor having a mobile as well as a CRM platform). I am not confident if Microsoft will be able to leverage its assets but I certainly hope it does. Imagine ‘People Hub’ for Dynamics CRM.
Please share your feedback. Thanks for taking time to read this blog post.