Customer relationship management (CRM) software is undergoing an evolution, thanks to demand for innovation in an industry that is ready for change. Case in point: Gartner reported that CRM software sales reached $26.3 billion in 2015 — up 12.3 percent from 2014. Now, combine this with recent data collected by Strategy Analytics, which points to an expected increase in the global mobile workforce — 38.8 percent of the total workforce in 2016 to 42.5 percent in 2022. The confluence of these two data points indicates one thing for 2017: greater expectations for mobile CRM — next year and beyond.
Eventually, mobile CRM will become the most common use case for CRM, while desktop CRM will be more specialized and relegated to specific tasks. But before we get to that point, mobile CRM must become a more robust mobile platform, not just bolted-on mobile components or extension apps that are essentially “CRM that you bring with you.”
To date, only a handful of vendors provide a mobile application that not only truly fits the smartphone or tablet screen but is also linked to the core CRM. The complete mobile CRM experience via a real mobile platform encompasses three main features and capabilities: geolocation, machine learning and predictive analytics, and the ability to develop and deploy via mobile software development kits (SDKs). Let’s look at each a bit more closely.
Integrated into a mobile CRM platform, geolocation will enable CRM that “knows” where you are and how to organize your day. For example, when traveling, geolocation can suggest customers or prospects that are close by and forward their current contact information and account status. The geolocation-enabled mobile CRM application also should include notes from previous visits with the customer, how long they’ve been a customer, their level of satisfaction — in short, any information that will provide a complete picture of the customer or prospect. Armed with this information, the mobile professional is armed with everything he or she needs when walking into a meeting with a customer or prospect.
Machine learning and predictive analytics
The complete mobile CRM experience isn’t just about delivering critical information as it’s needed. It also encompasses advising the mobile professional on his or her next step. These “digital assistants” —powered by machine learning and predictive analytics — intelligently guide users toward deepening customer relationships by gleaning information from outside data sources such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. As part of machine learning and predictive analytics, natural language processing assists by turning voice files and text into actionable items, helping the mobile professional prioritize, complete tasks and close deals.
The ability to customize (add, modify and brand specific features) per a company’s unique needs remains important, making mobile SDKs a critical consideration in 2017. Companies should look for mobile SDKs like SugarCRM’s that help them reimagine their mobile strategies in new, exciting and unlimited ways. Historically, there has been a lot of added expense involved in building an integrated mobile CRM application like this. But next year, companies should expect creating customer-focused mobile experiences to not only be fast and easy but also cost-effective.
Meeting customer expectations and creating a seamless user experience aren’t anything new in terms of goals for mobile CRM in the New Year — and let’s face it, countless companies across industries have those goals in common. What is new is the way forward-thinking CRM software vendors are using engineering, machinery, tools and computing to power features, functionality and capabilities for a wholly new mobile CRM experience. For 2017, companies shouldn’t settle for the status quo; rather, they should strive to find a purpose-built, mobile CRM platform that is intelligent, customized and primed to boost the mobile professional’s effectiveness and productivity.
Martin Schneider is vice president of corporate communications at SugarCRM. He has spent the past two decades as a journalist, analyst and marketer in the CRM industry. His prior experience includes that of enterprise software analyst for the 451 Group and news editor for CRM Magazine. Martin is a passionate, vibrant voice speaking to the value of putting customers first and leveraging modern technology to do so. Follow him on Twitter.