SMBs Can Be Mobile, Too

CRM data is just a text message away. This may be true for large enterprises with pricey, customized software programs, but is the small and midsize business (SMB) using mobility in the same way? Nick Bolton wireless data provider, Mobile Data Now, is hoping so with the company's newest data mobility solution release. Mobile Data Now, a start-up from New Zealand, targets SMBs, proponing that mobility should not just be limited to the big guys. Mobile Data Now's version 1.3 allows workers to access data anytime, anywhere by connecting to a business's internal server. For instance a user can connect Mobile Data Now to the company's CRM server and obtain customer data through SMS text, e-mail or instant message on a handheld device such as a BlackBerry. No software downloads on the handheld are required. Once connected to the server, users can access information through data queries. They can also send, upload and change data using an easy template. Mobile Data Now created template library, which hasn't been made live quite yet, that will allow users to upload and share their templates for popular CRM applications. "I think it saves a company a lot of time," Bolton says. "One example, we were working with sales team and instead of the guy having to ring back to the office and to get details of a customer, he could send a text and get a message of the data instantaneously." Bolton says this is advantageous not only for the CRM team, but for customers. Analyst Steve Hilton with the Yankee Group says this sort of solution is exactly what SMBs have been clamoring for. However he questions the breadth of services that a solution such as Mobile Data Now connects to at this early stage. As of now, Bolton says that Mobile Data Now connects to on premise CRM software, but is not yet able to connect to web-based CRM solutions such as SalesForce.com. Bolton estimates that the company will be integrated with such applications in the next two months. According to Yankee Group research, the top five applications SMBs wanted in a mobile-enabled environment include web browsing, a business productivity suite, CRM, project management and corporate IM. "At most 15 percent of SMBs who want to be able to use mobile applications are able to because it takes a lot of customized work," Hilton says. "It takes a lot of customized implementation to connect the premises-based applications to the mobile devices to make them work together." Because SMBs do not have massive IT budgets to spend on consultants and customization, Hilton says they basically use e-mail, but not yet CRM or project management. Despite the limitations, Hilton says that the future of mobile use by SMBs looks rosy. "Small businesses thrive on being nimble and better serving their customers," Hilton points out. "One of the ways is being more responsive and being able to multi task and mobile tools really enable businesses to do just that." Mobile Data Now will release an upgraded version in the near future with increased web browser capabilities. Bolton says will continue focusing on making mobility simple for its users, minus the expensive IT costs. Related articles: Small Businesses Have Large Needs for Mobility
Experts agree that the need for mobile technology support is out of proportion to smaller companies' level of adoption; even consumer solutions can help bridge the gap. The Continued March to Mobility North American enterprises devoted about one fourth of their 2006 telecom and network services budgets to mobility, but most of these budgets are still going to landline services. CRM Moves to the Mobility Phase Focusing on technology, experts at destinationCRM2007 are all about the mobility effect. Sales Hits the Road Three CRM vendors have released applications for mobile devices in recent days. What's the payoff for the sales representative? Mobility's Killer App? Speech technology will be the key driver of Web innovation, according to a presenter at Nuance's Conversations '07 -- primarily through natural language and its use in mobile search.
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