Will PDAs Help Drive CRM Adoption?

A survey of more than 200 sales executives, performed by mobile enterprise software producer AvantGo, found that due to lack of access to CRM systems in the field, CRM and sales force automation programs were not entirely successful. Participants in the study say that access to CRM solutions from PDAs and other handheld devices would greatly aid in adoption and execution of CRM initiatives. Sixty-five percent of sales representatives surveyed estimate that fewer than 50 percent of their companies' sales force is using their CRM/SFA systems the way management would like. The top-three user obstacles of the CRM/SFA systems cited by salespeople are that the systems are too time-consuming, are difficult to access, and provide limited value to them in the field. More than 40 percent of sales managers surveyed say that as a result, they are not getting effective forecasting or opportunity management data from their SFA systems. In the report sales management and field-based representatives both say they feel strongly that providing PDA access to CRM/SFA and other sales force systems would drive adoption and increase the productivity of the sales force. Eighty-three percent of sales representatives feel that a PDA sales solution would make them more productive in the field, and 90 percent say they would use their CRM/SFA system more if they had handheld mobile access. Of the sales managers polled, 82 percent say PDA access for sales representatives would drive field usage of CRM/SFA, and 91 percent say mobile enterprise software on PDAs will become an important sales tool for their organization. "Companies have invested millions of dollars in their CRM deployments, but most have not been able to drive enough adoption among their field sales forces to deliver on the promise of a single, shared view of the customer," says Ojas Rege, AvantGo's vice president of product marketing. "Quality of data drives CRM value. Low user adoption in the field results in incomplete or inconsistent data, and limits the ability of most organizations to realize this value." Jack Gold, vice president with MetaGroup, says that simply putting wireless solutions in place will not guarantee the success of a CRM application. "People need to understand the limitations of this technology, and the devices themselves," Gold says. "You can't expect to run all of Siebel [Systems] applications on a small handheld device. This technology isn't totally perfect, and wireless is not available everywhere." Companies must seriously consider the costs involved with implementing a wireless arm to a CRM initiative, Gold says, because most wireless implementations can easily cost companies a quarter of a million dollars. "There are cheaper ways to do it," he says, "but you get what you pay for."
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