Going Mobile with CRM
With all the buzz about the iPhone and the dawning of the glorious mobile age, I wanted to talk with someone who actually uses mobile devices for enterprise apps. So I spent some time on the phone this morning with Seppo Beumers, Application Manager at Genzyme Europe, who has his company's sales reps up and running on Saleslogix CRM via their BlackBerries.
About 250 of Genzyme Europe's 400 reps have switched from their laptops to the mobile devices since the rollout began last year. Younger reps have been quicker on the uptake, but older workers are making the move, too, says Beumers.
The business case for mobilizing CRM starts with the difficulty reps have in using laptops in hospitals, where they make many of their calls. Putting CRM on BlackBerries, which Genzyme used already and saw as a stable and secure platform, allows reps to access the app when they need it, and to enter notes on the fly. Beumers says that with reps making some 8-10 sales calls per day, the time savings are considerable.
Making Saleslogix available on the mobile devices meant using a third-party application from vendor Vaultus Mobile Technologies. Genzyme did not include all of the CRM functions on its BlackBerries, only those that need to be done every day, or with every sales call. Adding more functionality, and other applications, such as business intelligence and purchase orders and approvals, is a possibility for the future. "We have a lot of people traveling," he says. "We would love to use other enterprise applications with mobile devices."
Beumers sees the iPhone as a neat consumer device -- "a nice plaything" -- but not one that's ready for enterprise use. The BlackBerry, too, has limitations, but he expects continued improvements in both touch-screen and keyboard-driven devices, to the point that many workers may hand in their laptops in the next few years.
His advice to his peers: "There needs to be a very clear business case for mobile devices, not just a love of gadgets. Without a business case, you can provide a device, but people won't use it."