Since 2009, the mobile subscriber base has experienced an annual growth rate greater than that of the Internet. The number of worldwide mobile workers will reach 1.2 billion by the end of 2013. Behind this growth are "digital clients," led by Generation Y, or Millennials, who number 7.5 million in the United States, and 750 million globally, with this number forecasted to reach 3 billion by 2015. At this rate, there will be 2.25 billion new digital clients worldwide in the next four years, the vast majority of whom will purchase smartphones to support their belief that they have a God-given right to be "always on, always connected" to one another and to the Internet. (Smartphone penetration is expected to reach 70 percent in the U.S. in 2012 and 70 percent worldwide by 2015.)
These clients are your mobile workers, your sales reps, your field service reps, your customers' buyers. Their smartphones are at the center of their digital ecosystem. Digital clients downloaded 29 billion mobile apps in 2011 and are forecasted to download 77 billion apps in total by 2014. Increasingly, these include CRM-related functionality like sales force automation, sales dashboards, contact information, etc.
What's Driving Mobile CRM?
More important than who's driving mobile CRM are the five powerful reasons behind its growth:
1. New mobile devices that include smartphones as Pocket PCs, tablets, and Ultrabooks.
2. Improved networks, which now offer sound roaming capability, less latency, improved bandwidth, enhanced security, and better affordability.
3. Software enhancements that include valuable CRM functionality like account information, contact information, and tasks; valuable built-in processes (e.g., campaign management); powerful dashboards; clean, ribbon-based interfaces; and in-context information.
4. Meaningful WIIFM (What's In It For Me) driven by powerful value-add including reduced downtime/increased productivity; daily, even hourly usage; increased customer face time and satisfaction; access to real-time customer information at your fingertips (e.g., account and order status, history look-ups, available-to-promise inventory); the ability to take immediate action while away from the office; and timely collaboration between field sales and management (customer response and updates; follow-up tracking; and forecast, lead, and pipeline management).
5.High user uptake, driven by this meaningful WIIFM, that has led mobile workers to refer to mobile CRM as everything from "part of my lifestyle" and "portable" to "proactive" and "addictive."
These five reasons are already playing out in today's CRM marketplace as studies now confirm that CRM applications available on mobile devices will be used considerably more frequently than those tethered to PCs.
Mobile CRM's Future
The future of mobile CRM is bright, not only for mobile workers using CRM applications but also for the digital clients who receive product and service offers via their phones. Location and context-based "push" services (Foursquare, Groupon) are booming, with one in four smartphone users responding positively to a mobile offer in the past year. Gartner predicts that "by 2014, 1.86 billion people will be online and 6.7 billion devices will be connected to the Internet" and "by 2015, companies will generate fifty percent of Web sales via their social presence and mobile applications."
Here's my 2012 forecast:
- Organizations that do not offer mobile CRM to their customer-facing personnel will struggle to fill the vacancies these personnel create as they join organizations that have adopted mobile CRM.
- Those CRM users that opt not to leverage new mobile CRM capabilities in 2012 will become the next group of digital dinosaurs.
In other words, mobile CRM is no longer a nice-to-have but an inevitable business essential.
Barton Goldenberg is president and founder of ISM Inc., a consulting firm that applies CRM, social CRM, and social media to successful customer-centric business strategies. He is the publisher of The Guide to CRM Automation (17th edition) and author of CRM in Real Time: Empowering Customer Relationships (Information Today Inc.).