Four Important trends in Mobile CRM Space

Last week one of my colleagues bought an iPad. He is currently gripped by something that people call the iPad syndrome. Ipad has helped people understand and appreciate the concept of mobility…in fact it has taken a giant leap in the mobility space. I have been receiving requests for mobility CRM much more in the last 2-3 months as compared to last year. Is it because of Ipad? Not sure, but the requests do translate into providing Mobile solutions that can run on mobile device; 1 out of 3 requests specifically for Ipad. One of our friends has put his thoughts around this revolution  http://social.eyeforpharma.com/story/will-ipad-kickstart-pharma-sales-and-marketing-revolution (read here).

I have been thinking off late on how should we go about designing the overall Mobile CRM solution? What should it contain? How should it be deployed? How will it provide enhanced value to organizations?  

Four Important Trends in Mobile CRM:

  1. Mobile CRM has moved beyond SFA on PDA: It is just not “Contact Management”, “Call Planning” etc. There are Features like Inventory/stock management, order reconciliation & tracking, Service Request Management, Real time analytics and “on demand” collaboration between field sales reps, service reps and customers. The new Mobile CRM needs to support much more functions and not just be a trimmed down version of the enterprise CRM system.
  2. Mobile CRM needs to be componentized: As organizations move away from the typical “arms race” in the sales function, where the sales volumes do not have linearity with the size of the sales force, and small groups of specialized sales force evolve; the need for CRM to accommodate the specific needs for these groups will increase exponentially. One solution fits all is not valid. What will work here is to have a bouquet of functionalities that can be made available depending on the end user need. End users pick and choose what he needs to be part of his Mobile CRM solution.
  3. Mobile CRM solution needs to be “On Demand”: The new age Mobile CRM solution needs to be available to the end user “On Demand”. Nearest parallel that one can draw is the “Blackberry Apps world” or” Ipad apps”. Organizations will maintain (can be a service provider) an application store and users can download needed application or components, use them and get rid of them from the mobile device after use.
  4. Mobile CRM solutions will drive the functionality: There was a time when the Mobile solution was a replica of the CRM solution with lot of restrictions w.r.t functionality and usability. Those days are gone. On Premise or Cloud Based CRM solutions will just provide robust backend and will not limit the Mobile CRM solution scope. The Mobile CRM solutions will have its own identity (the way functionality is achieved and enhanced usability features) and will integrate with the available CRM solution.

What do you think? Do you think that the Mobile CRM space is slowly transforming? Let me know your thoughts and comments.

Hybrid CRM: Is it Just a Deployment Model?

I was having a call today with one of our clients around the Hybrid CRM that they envision to build. The definition of Hybrid CRM is not uniform. It is an open subject and people have the liberty to define. For some of the organizations…Hybrid CRM is having Cloud based solution and Traditional on Premise solution in the same landscape, this means some functionality/capability on Cloud and some on traditional platforms. For some … Hybrid CRM is having the database reside on premise, but still pay for the consumption of the licenses through subscriber access licenses. Another flavor is…If you have your licenses, but do not want to deploy the solution in house, then hosting it on some cloud (CRM Hosting Companies) by just paying the hosting fees.

So is Hybrid CRM Model just a deployment model and nothing beyond that? In my opinion it is much beyond that…some definitions do not really mean Hybrid CRM, they actually mean Freedom/Choice of deploying your CRM solution.  

So let me define what I think is Hybrid CRM: Hybrid CRM is a vision to create a CRM ecosystem whereby one can synergize the power of on premise with the flexibility of on demand solutions. So actually it means that one should perform an “In Out” analysis of capability to create a structured, scalable, flexible and functional Hybrid CRM Model.

What stays IN (Premise) and what goes OUT (on the cloud) will decide the way this model eventually shapes up? Can there be a single roadmap for this? That is to say…A particular capability can be completely achieved using a cloud solution… should we decide to move it to cloud. Another scenario may be… A capability cannot be achieved in its current state in a cloud solution… so does this mandate that it needs to be on premise? The point that I want to drive here is… Just by creating a matrix of what can be achieved on cloud and on premise one should not decide the hybrid model. Organizations need to perform evaluation on these dimensions:

  1. How dynamic is the Functionality/Capability: Some functionalities/capabilities are very dynamic in nature. They need to constantly change in order to meet the changing needs of the business. E.g Contracts Management in managed care. With change in regulations the capability needs to undergo changes. These changes can be small or big. Such functionality need to adopt quickly and cannot wait for the long change cycle that is typical trade mark of an on premise solution.
  2. How Complex is the Functionality/Capability: Organizations have complex functionalities… some are genuine others are complex just because no one ever thought for a simple solution. Organizations should look back and categorize the functionalities under “genuinely complex” and “Can be simplified”. Then the decision to move them on cloud/on premise becomes straight forward.
  3. Logical grouping of functionality/Capability: This is the most critical part. Organizations need to evaluate capability in a logical group and not stand alone. For E.g Contact Management functionality is achievable in cloud, but activity management needs to be on premise. Does this even sound logical? The end result will be horrifying for the users. Data governance and management will go for a toss. So it is very important to look at capabilities as logical groups so that the objective of creating a structured, flexible, scalable and functional model can be achieved.    

What has been your experience around this? Will you like to add to this list. Just as a closing note… IDC states that 3 quarters of European business plans hybrid CRM.. hope they get it right….

Case study: ‘Wipro ClickLoyalty’ Now Available on Salesforce.com

I have always maintained that the future will be to create simple and effective solutions for complex business problems. This is one example of creating a solution on these lines of thought… is this the beginning of the whole new role of the System Integrators as Solution providers (not products) and assemblers. Is this an example of SIs getting into this new role and trying to generate non linear revenue…

‘Wipro ClickLoyalty’ Now Available on Salesforce.com, the World’s Most Popular Marketplace for Business Apps – MarketWatch.

What are your thoughts on this?

Cloud CRM – Is this the Panacea?

I wrote in one of my last blogs about how I see the CRM products DNA changing. I also wrote about the two important guidelines that are being followed for product development. The logical extension to that is to explore if these new age/Nextgen products are finding acceptability in the industry.

Off late I find growing adoption among organizations for these new products. I will limit this blog to the Pharma business which I follow closely. Pharma business has traditionally been one of the late/slow adopters to new technologies. The unconventional business model and protection in terms of patents have always made Pharma companies a bit reactive in nature. But today; due the sudden environmental changes (growth opportunities shifting from traditional to new markets) and pressure on creating efficiencies across the complete value chain has compelled them to think proactively. Pharma has become one of the front runners in adopting newer technologies and CRM strategies in particular have been revisited with an aim to provide efficient, intuitive, Flexible, simple and insightful solutions to business.

So does this mean that the earlier solutions that were deployed after years of hard work and spending Millions of dollars did not meet the above criteria? Yes and No. Yes because these solutions were designed and built as if the world will never change. No because they did what was expected out of them and in many cases were very efficiently. It became a humongous task to maintain these solutions and organizations were faced with a bigger challenge of keeping these solutions in sync with the changing business needs. They were running a race against shifting finish line.

Getting back to drawing board and creating the drivers for the new solution started in various top 15 Pharma companies. The high level drivers that are common to majority of them are;

  • Increase effectiveness
  • Increase productivity
  • Enhance agility in responding to changing business needs
  • Lower operating cost
  • Increase operational efficiency
  • Reduce overall TCO

So the writing on the wall was clear… A. Get rid of the existing solutions B. Evaluate Cloud based solutions that meet majority of the criteria.

Few of the top Pharma companies have already taken this decision and are in an advanced stage of deploying their solutions (Refer Veeva site). So will these solutions act like a panacea? These solutions do tend to satisfy majority of the drivers that organizations have laid out, but is there something that the organizations are missing?

At the face of it and going by the trend in the market it seems that this time organizations will get this right.

Note of Caution:

  • Do not repeat the mistake of complicating the solution on the pretext of providing efficiency and enhancing productivity. (Customization is no longer a limitation of Cloud based solutions)
  • Look at a larger timeframe and see the spread of CAPEX and OPEX to take decisions on TCO
  • Evaluate what is the best deployment model (on premise/On demand or Hybrid)
  • Think over “Does it make sense to have a global solution or bouquet of solutions based on common philosophy?”

The Chaos in the Digital Space

A lot is happening in the digital space…I find it tough to follow and keep pace. Having said that I also believe that we are right now living in very interesting times and witnessing the change that will define the future. So does this mean that that what we are experiencing now is far from the future? I think no…The future is already there; it’s just not logically arranged.

So what is the future? Is “Cloud Computing” the future, is “Virtualization” the next big thing or is “empower with simple ideas” the way to go? There is no one concept that will win this race hands down. All these concepts have carved the present and have defined the way we behave, interact and collaborate today.

Cloud computing as defined by Wikipedia is “Internet-based computing, whereby shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers and other devices on demand, like the electricity grid”. My experience with my clients has given enough evidence to believe that the adoption of this concept in on a rise, but still I feel that this space is a bit “cloudy”. There are issues with data security, scalability and performance that needs to be sorted before organizations will go full guns in adopting this as the next platform to support their business.

Virtualization as a concept was always there with us. I think the complete support system for the human clan is virtualized (Religion). So the human community has always understood this concept much better that the concept of “Cloud”. We stay in an almost virtual world of our own; we look alone but we are never alone, we always have resources at our disposal. This has made this world one common meeting place cutting across religions and geographical boundaries. I believe Virtualization will surely accompany us in the future.

Empowerment has been one of the most used/misused terms in the recent past. This term is in the agenda of every top executive and politician; how this gets delivered is a totally different discussion. What I see today is that this plain and simple word has revolutionized the way services/products are delivered. The concept is to create simple ideas and execute them quickly to solve needs (irrespective of the size of the need; big or small). The overall timeframe from idea to execution needs to be relatively small to derive maximum benefits. It’s a dynamic market place so we are pegged against a shifting goal. Look at the mobile applications store from Blackberry or the Apple Apps Store, these stores give you simple but effective applications for your needs… use them and move on…

I cannot predict the future, but what I can do is lay down some clear trends that will impact our lives to a great extend:

  • We will have more virtualization… Getting things done will matter… Who and from where will not be something that we will be bothered about. We will know our neighbors through blogs and chatsJ

 

  • The future is for unwinding and becoming creative at what we do. Break those conventional ways of doing things and come up with simple ideas to uncomplicated matters. Should one talk while driving? Conventional thinking created the Bluetooth enabled hands free…this did solve the need, but can’t we have a small application that sends an SMS to the caller “I cannot take your call as I am driving”. Simple, effective and responsible idea!!!

 

  • Cloud or No Cloud – the writing on the wall is clear: People/Organizations will stick to their core competencies and will demand highest level of commitments and availability from support processes/systems/people. As  a Pharma company, I should focus on my R&D and product development and not on IT systems and its corresponding infrastructure

 

Let’s keep our fingers crossed

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