Why has mobile CRM adoption been so slow?

30th Jun 2014

‘Mobile’ has been the word on the lips of sales and marketing execs for a very long time now.

Driven by the consumer, mobile and tablet usage is continuing to increase rapidly, and as a result businesses are sitting up and taking note. The expectation now is for business-critical information to be accessible through a mobile device, whenever and wherever people want.

But despite this sea change in the way in which we consume information when it comes to mobilising their workforce and embracing the potential of technology such as mobile CRM, businesses have still been slow to act.

At a recent event I presented at we did a quick straw poll of the audience. I asked, how many people owned a smartphone or tablet device. Unsurprisingly, the majority of hands in the room went up. However when I asked how many of them had linked their device with their organisation’s CRM system, the number was very low.

It’s telling, that we have the technology at our fingertips but there is still a slow adoption rate of full mobile integration. Businesses are yet to embrace the potential of mobile as quickly as consumers have.

The style of interaction that firms need to see is the same way an employee would treat their own personal Twitter page – thus tapping themselves into a constant stream of data and insights around the organisation.

With people always on the go, maximise that time by having employees tap into live data and insights from your business right now.

Responsive design

But what do we see as the next trend? Another big buzzword right now is responsive design – the design of a website, or programme which adapts and changes the way it looks depending on the size of screen it is displayed on.

From a CRM perspective, this is about displaying the data in a viewable fashion on any device. It doesn’t matter if you are trying to view your data from a 3-inch smartphone screen or a 15-inch tablet – the data that you need to see is all still viewable and digestible, and the mechanics of the app adapt around it.

On top of this, users have that expectation that any modifications made offline will then appear on their local device.

Marketing departments are not fully utilising the benefits of CRM from a mobile perspective yet. This is particularly from a data capture point of view – you can have people out in the field speaking to people, filling in forms digitally, but in many cases that data is not then integrated into a CRM system. This can ultimately mean a duplication of work for those in the field, or even more worryingly, those vital customer or prospect insights are lost altogether.

This segment is particularly underdeveloped from a mobile perspective and I think we will see moves to fill that gap over the coming months. On top of this, the capturing of social interactions between a business and their customer will continue to evolve, building a picture of their relationship.

What businesses need to fully realise are the benefits between front and back office integration through CRM. Think of the possibilities of putting every piece of information and interaction for a customer at the fingertips of your sales team while they are out in the field.

This is the elimination of the paper world where everything is digital and insights are fully integrated into your CRM system, reaping further benefits for your business.

David Beard is CRM principal at Sage UK


Replies (4)

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By Ohad Oren
03rd Jul 2014 13:42

Hi David,
Great article! I totally agree on this. 

We've seen dramatic changes everywhere with the growing adoption of mobile technologies and now it's time for the CRM market to join the party. 

I think however that the 'CRM for mobile' has to be a different product than the CRM for desktop.

The CRM users are waiting for the Mobile CRM market to evolve and that is the reason for the low adoption. 
We're already seeing some young and lean companies already releasing mobile first CRM's, deeply integrated into mobile technology, thus offering a new and exciting CRM experience. 

Easy to work with, automated and mobile.
That's how I'd like to see my CRM :)

Would love to hear your thoughts on that!


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By David Beard
04th Jul 2014 13:27

Hello Ohad

Thanks for taking the time to compliment & comment on the article.

I agree to get mobile CRM to take off, I think you need to solve the "right device for the right situation" issue.

Size often dictates the usage & consumption method - though it's not always binary ("I only enter notes on my tablet, never my phone"). I often update meeting details, names, etc. via a phone while saving longer notes for a different device & time of the day.

So, while your broad suggestion to get mobile off the ground is correct - determining the role of the user(s) and & what function(s) are they needing will drive best device fit is super important.

Trouble is -- if you go for a separate mobile solution, you run the risk of another application / code stack to look after. With all the attendant time & money this *may* involve.

In our case with the SageCRM offer, it has always been, from inception, smart in its ability to deploy different sized screens based on the device's browser signature. Yes, there was some initial administrative work in screen designs but it was never onerous to the point of maintaining a separate code base or similar.

With our forthcoming release, we've made it even easier, with a responsive design that adapts and changes the way it looks depending on the size of screen it is displayed on.

-= David
CRM Principal
Sage CRM
London, England

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By Ian Moyse
04th Jul 2014 18:01

Whilst users buying CRM often have a wish list including mobile CRM, Social links and more, the majority then focus rightly on the fundamentals of getting CRM processes correct, user adoption and getting benefit from the basics.

We have found many are using mobile CRM, not in the native CRM mobile interface, but through custom built apps that integrate to the CRM on the back of the mobile CRM's platform.  For example we have customers in membership systems providing mobile apps to actual customers to look up data fed from our CRM and others where their sales people have a custom sales app branded as theirs to show clients, that then interacts live in a meeting to build a quote for the client that the CRM then automatically produces and sends to the client whilst the salesperson is still with the customer.

So mobile access to the valuable data in the CRM delivering a customer experience on a mobile device.  

Additionally many access CRM from mobile devices through integration with their mail system. For example having calender events, tasks, contacts and emails synched through so that they can see on their mobile device, but not as mobile CRM, but natively seeing the data inside their contacts list or their task list.

So mobile CRM is happening, but it may not be in the way we all label it purely expecting an app and a salesperson updating an opportunity.


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By Ohad Oren
09th Jul 2014 13:48

Thanks for your reply, David!

I tend to agree with you. Indeed for a business who has a CRM in place, it does not make any sense to start using another solution only for mobile. (although there are mobile CRM apps who can sync your mobile CRM data with the major CRM services)

However, relaying on the same desktop-oriented-infrastructure will not allow the users to really harness the powerful abilities mobile smartphones has to offer.

Furthermore, mobile users these days are looking for a simple and easy-to-start-with solution. Just like installing any other app on the application store..

Having said all that, I'll have a look at your upcoming release. You got me curious :)









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