CRM To Lead Mobile Adoption
Perhaps the British rock band, The Who, was ahead of its time when it wrote its hit song Goin' Mobile, but it certainly applies to the technology industry, as indicated by a Datamonitor report released today, called Mobile Field Service: Evaluating the Business Case
. The report states that global enterprise investment in mobile field service solutions will total $220 million by the end of the year, largely supported by investments in mobile CRM solutions.
Datamonitor maintains the financial services market, particularly investment banking, is the largest sector of adoption. In the U.S., for example, applications such as access to real-time equity information for traders on the floor are driving mobile middleware vendors' sales. Meanwhile, manufacturing companies are deploying mobile solutions to integrate their supply chains, to reduce cycle times and lower costs. Professional services companies are deploying applications such as mobile email and personal information management (PIM) functions. Additionally, mobile field force is receiving interest from the manufacturing and utilities sectors, particularly in the UK.
"It is easy to ignore the intangible benefits that IT solutions can bring. It has become more popular to focus on the tangibles as a sales-lead generator tool in the current economic climate, where CFOs will not countenance IT spend that does not make or save money. However in the case of mobile technology, the intangible benefits are just as important as tangible ones," says Richard Clifford, Datamonitor mCommerce analyst.
Faisal Hoque, author of the recent book The Alignment Effect: How to Get Real Business Value Out of Technology, agrees with Clifford. "When determining the value of technology it's not about return on investment (ROI). That's the wrong way to look at CRM. You should ask 'What is the return on the overall business?' Sometimes it's a tangible dollar figure or intangible dollar figure," Hoque says.
Measuring ROI only addresses part of the business case for mobile solutions. Other valuable, yet intangible benefits that cannot be accurately calculated include improved brand image and competitive advantage, according the Datamonitor report.
Also, mass-market adoption remains a couple of years away. "There's a general misunderstanding of the mobile market and slow technology developments is definitely playing a role in the adoption rate. The network rollout of 3G is not happening as fast as some people had been expecting. Some execs equate the coming of 3G with mobile solutions and that's not right because they can use mobile solutions without 3G. There are plenty of wireless apps on things like PDAs, mobile phones," says Elizabeth Kennedy, analyst at Datamonitor. "Some companies want to wait and standardize, but if they don't act now they'll miss the boat."
Leading the adoption rate charge are remotes sales professionals, the report states. In its mCommerce End-User survey: mCommerce trends in Europe 2001, Datamonitor surveyed 208 European enterprises to assess the parts of business where mobile solutions were most likely to be used and 59 percent stated the main users would be the sales force. Kennedy asserts the adoption rate percentage would be similar in the Unites States.