The iPhone is taking the world by storm, and while this year and the next will likely see the iPhone battling with the Android for enterprise dominance, you should definitely consider iPhone CRM for your customer relationship management. Let’s take a look at the trajectory iPhone CRM has taken and examine some of the reasons the iPhone supports an ideal mobile CRM solution.
In the Beginning…
The iPhone was released in June 2007 and met with the sort of anticipation and excitement that surrounds the release of many Apple products. It was catapulted to “it phone” status, and while many in enterprise stuck to their BlackBerry guns, countless productivity software vendors leapt to accommodate the sleek new device—there were iPhone CRM applications available within a month of the phone’s release. Some CRM vendors developed native applications for the phone, while others offered iPhone CRM in the form of mobile support (a relatively simple task for SaaS CRM vendors) that allowed users to access their CRM accounts from Safari, Apple’s native search engine on the iPhone.
Major CRM software providers like NetSuite, Salesforce.com, and Oracle were among the first to release iPhone CRM solutions. NetSuite’s CEO, Zach Nelson, paid the iPhone a special compliment when he said it was one of the few Apple products that truly offered the software applications necessary for addressing “the needs of running a sophisticated business.” The iPhone wasn’t entirely marketed to enterprise users upon its release, but it has gained traction in the market; likewise, iPhone CRM applications have progressed a great deal.
iPhone CRM: A Range of Functions
A good deal of CRM vendors offer Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) deployments, and the majority of these companies offer iPhone CRM by way of optimizing a mobile site, so that iPhone enterprise users can view lead information from within Safari. CRM vendors offering both SaaS and on-premise deployments have developed iPhone specific applications that mobile users can access on- or offline. It’s worth noting that iPhone CRM vendors with SaaS deployments are able to offer more complete iPhone CRM applications—that is, their mobile platforms will allow more editing and creating capabilities on the device, while non-SaaS iPhone CRM applications often allow only viewing capabilities.
So here we have the crux of iPhone CRM functionality: SaaS-supported applications are the most complete and typically provide the ability to edit and create lead information as well as see current CRM data. On-premise CRM deployments usually entail static iPhone CRM applications; however, having the ability to view CRM information is handy, even if it isn’t real-time data.
I Know I Want Mobile CRM – Why Should I Choose iPhone CRM?
It’s true, the iPhone isn’t the only mobile device to support CRM applications. The BlackBerry’s popularity has taken a hit since the iPhone’s release (and also the Android’s release), but it is still one of the most popular smartphones in enterprise, though that is likely because it was released, and for a long time marketed, as a phone for enterprise users. The recent release of the Verizon Droid phones has led some to see it as the next go-to enterprise phone, but there is definite evidence that the iPhone is carving itself a niche in the enterprise market.
A recent Gartner report showed that globally, the BlackBerry still has a larger market share than the iPhone. While its market share is likely smaller in the US, there are a number of reasons the BlackBerry holds sway for some. Some consider there to be a learning curve when it comes to using an iPhone for the first time—especially after being used to a BlackBerry—and the BlackBerry was introduced in 1999, which means it has had eight more years than the iPhone to nestle itself in the market. Given its relative newness to the market, the iPhone is doing quite well (with a global smartphone market share of 14.4%).
It’s fairly certain the iPhone’s market share will increase in 2010, and that it will enjoy more widespread use in the enterprise sector. Productivity software vendors that want to remain competitive all have iPhone applications or support, and there is a harbinger of iPhone CRM’s impending market dominance: some software vendors are focusing almost wholly on the iPhone. CrownPeak, a company offering content management solutions, recently announced mobile accessibility for the iPhone’s Safari browser and Google Chrome on the Android. No mention was made of development for the BlackBerry. As other companies come out with iPhone innovations (CRM-related and otherwise) it seems the BlackBerry is falling by the wayside.
Another reason the iPhone is a great mobile device for CRM is social media. Aside from the fact that it is a phone, the iPhone is regarded as the best mobile device for social networking. IBM very recently announced that they would be bringing their collaboration products, the Lotus Software suite, to the iPhone, and cited the iPhone’s social networking friendliness as one of the reasons. As platforms like Twitter and Facebook become integral to CRM processes, the rise of Social CRM is another reason we’ll likely see more sophisticated iPhone CRM applications.
Simply put: the iPhone is a pulse on all things current. When it comes to mobile customer relationship management, why consider anything else but iPhone CRM?