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How to adopt—and adapt—CRM for a generation raised on mobile technologies.
Posted Jan 17, 2010
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They've been dubbed the Millennials, Echo Boomers, Generation Y, Generation Next, Generation Net — but whatever name you prefer, this demographic is most commonly associated with one overarching characteristic: It has grown up in a world surrounded by mobile phones, personal computers, video games, the Internet, instant messaging, online music, and various other technologies. This group's inherent and ubiquitous use of technology has provided them a different, and oftentimes a more powerful, means of communication, which is becoming increasingly relevant in today's workforce.  

Customer-facing organizations can capitalize on Generation Net's affinity for and propensity to use multitasking technology in the workplace. Instead of blocking "rogue" devices such as iPhones, BlackBerrys, and Google Androids, organizations should encourage the use of these popular devices as a way to increase the adoption of line of business (LOB) applications such as CRM and sales force automation (SFA). At the same time, executives strive to streamline process and reduce cost by standardizing smartphone use and data plans. Therefore, they are understandably concerned about how the use of disparate devices will disrupt this system.

Companies that dictate how and what smartphones are permitted within the organization risk alienating the Net Gen crowd, pushing them to use their mobile devices discreetly, and thus, violating the corporate mobile policy.

Employees of this demographic use their smartphones for a variety of objectives, whether it's to access information and perform tasks more efficiently during the work day, or to listen to music and text message a friend while commuting to and from the office. What they want is instant, convenient access to the world beyond the confines of the office.

So rather than forcing a square peg into a round hole, companies should consider a hybrid mobile policy: Provide a standardized smartphone offering for employees who do not have their own smartphones (or do not have a preference); and for those who do, adopt mobile business applications that are compatible with a variety of devices. Selecting business applications, such as mobile CRM, that work effectively on multiple smartphone platforms is critical to achieving strong user adoption and maintaining the integrity of the customer data used by both the mobile and office-based staff.

In general, when staff members are empowered to use the tools that they are comfortable with, productivity increases proportionately as a result of the ease in which they can access the information they need. Mobile CRM adoption is no exception. Enabling the staff to access and input information updates more efficiently results in their willingness to use CRM for the purpose it is intended — to provide a complete history of each customer or prospect in one centralized hub.

If your organization has not yet rolled out a mobile CRM deployment or is in the early stages of planning, there are a few key steps that will ensure its success.

  • Create a mobility team: Select from various departments and roles to ensure an appropriate cross section of users and goals.
  • Determine the key information: What information do your employees regularly need to access and update?
  • Set measurable criteria: Determine key metrics to be managed, such as an increase in sales calls per day or reduction in response time for customer service issues.
  • Standardize on a mobile platform: Establish a standard platform but allow for the flexibility to include one or two alternatives.
  • Mobilize with a pilot: Start with a small group who can test the applications and make recommendations before embarking on a company-wide roll out.
  • Don't neglect training: Educate your users; otherwise, even the best technology and strategy will fail.
  • Perform an evaluation: Determine what's working and what's not during the test run and address these issues before rolling it out on a larger scale.

With the exception of the high-tech industry, Net Gen still represents a minority in many companies today. In time, this will change dramatically as they continue to replace the Baby Boomers who are ready for retirement. While some will argue that computers, mobile phones, and the Xbox will contribute to the downfall of Net Gen, it cannot be denied that, in actuality, video games, online chat, and iPhone apps have driven the overall adoption of technology — even by those who may not have otherwise embraced it. The result is a generation of tech-savvy individuals who understand the power of mobile technology and applications that enable them to access and utilize the information they need — anywhere, anytime. Companies can either resist or adapt to this paradigm shift, but ultimately, those that adapt will lead the pack.

About the Author

Vivek Thomas (vthomas@maximizer.com) is president of Maximizer Software. An industry veteran with more than 18 years of experience, Thomas brings global management and business development experience to the role. Prior to joining Maximizer Software, Thomas held senior management positions with CRM vendor Frontrange Solutions in addition to BusinessObjects and Sony Corporation.

Please note that the Viewpoints listed in CRM magazine and appearing on destinationCRM.com represent the perspective of the authors, and not necessarily those of the magazine or its editors. You may leave a public comment regarding this article by clicking on "Comments" at the top.
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For the rest of the January 2010 issue of CRM magazine please click here.

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To contact the editors, please email editor@destinationCRM.com
Every month, CRM magazine covers the customer relationship management industry and beyond. To subscribe, please visit http://www.destinationCRM.com/subscribe/.
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