Mobile CRM Is Warming Up for Spring
Several recent deals have invigorated the mobile CRM market. On Wednesday SugarCRM joined with Sona Mobile Holdings to enable wireless access to the popular open-source CRM software. On Tuesday Sage Software and Vodafone announced a partnership to develop the ACT! Mobility Suite for Australia. These announcements, along with recent product launches and research reports, suggest that mobile CRM will be a compelling argument in 2006.
SugarCRM's partnership with Sona Mobile, a wireless technology provider for the financial services, gaming, and entertainment industries, and general business, will allow the delivery of Sugar Mobile to SugarCRM's customer base, and also enable Sugar Mobile as a branded product for mobile service operators seeking to provide CRM solutions to their end-users. "With sales forces generally becoming increasingly mobile, taking our CRM applications mobile was a natural next step for us," said John Roberts, CEO and cofounder of SugarCRM, in a written statement. Sona will build mobile access technology into SugarCRM, and also will create plug-ins for mobile devices supported by Sugar Mobile.
The partnership is in the early beta stage, with the companies actively signing up sites to work with the emerging product, according to Evan Bauer, managing director of technology operations at Sona Mobile. The first plug-ins, or mobilets, will ship with Sugar Mobile. "Mobilets are a framework that can be added to the application without changing it," Bauer explains. Several will be available at launch, with more rolled out over time. He lauds SugarCRM for being easy to integrate. "Because SugarCRM is an open-source project, the depth of integration is purely a matter of choice; you don't have to layer a mobile workflow on top of the CRM but can blend them."
Meanwhile, Sage and Vodafone jointly will market ACT! Mobility Suite. The package, available now, includes ACT! by Sage 8.0, a BlackBerry device from Vodafone, a handheld application to link the software and the device, and a Vodafone voice/data package. The target market is SMBs, the segment where ACT! is most popular, and also where the two companies have seen increased interest in mobile data access.
Vodafone also is working with Microsoft on the BlackBerry challenger Windows Mobile Email, at a time when BlackBerry developer RIM is in a precarious state from a court battle over patents. Observers have been saying for some time that mobile CRM is poised for growth. Mobile remains a sound business case, according to a January report on mobile field service by Aberdeen Group. "The Mobile Field Service Solution Selection Report" reveals that companies that have deployed mobile field service solutions have seen a 27 percent improvement in worker productivity, 19 percent increase in customer satisfaction, 17 percent increase in overall profitability, and 13 percent increase in service revenues.
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