Tablets are increasingly popular in sales organizations, and recent advances are making it possible to leave the laptop behind and use mobile devices to run full-featured CRM systems and ERP software. Sales reps have used tablets to quickly display products and catalogs for a while, but now they also have back-end capabilities that provide access to client histories, past orders and analytics tools.
It might not be realistic to run an entire business off an iPad at this point, but it’s getting close. Many CRM systems and ERP solutions now offer enhanced capabilities and compatibility with Apple, Android and Windows smartphones and tablets. The latest release of Microsoft Dynamics® CRM, for example, offers improved mobile functionality, with a new focus on touch and mobility that makes it competitive with Salesforce and other CRM systems.
Today’s convertible devices, such as the Samsung Slate and Microsoft Surface, are able to handle just about anything sales reps would be doing on a desktop computer, like running full analytics, accessing a VPN Internet, or interfacing with ERP systems like SAP or Microsoft Dynamics® AX.
Smartphones, tablets and convertible devices bring important sales data closer to the places where decisions are actually being made, and make life easier for sales reps. The mobility puts more useful information at your fingertips in the situations and times when they need it, so a sales rep doesn’t have to build his or her week around technology’s limitations. It’s easy to look something up from a hotel lobby or an airport instead of waiting to return to the office.
Point-of-use tools have been around for about 10 years, but the technology wasn’t able to support full capabilities in a mobile environment. In the past, limited mobile functionality meant sales reps would have to go into the office on a Sunday night to prep before hitting the road on Monday rather than typing up notes and looking at the week ahead from home or the road.
There’s been a huge shift in the last couple of years in terms of the mobile access offered for CRM systems and other enterprise software. Now, most CRM sales automation capabilities are available on tablet and convertible devices. Some of that functionality gets lost when you drop down to a smartphone, due to the smaller screen sizes. With the limited screen real estate on a smartphone, you’re usually able to deal with one column of data, whereas a tablet’s display more closely resembles that of a laptop or desktop computer.
Upgrading to mobile-ready CRM systems or manufacturing ERP software offers a number of benefits for organizations and their sales reps. There’s a strong productivity benefit to using these tools on a mobile device, especially when combined with mapping capabilities or radius searching capabilities that provide contextually relevant information based on your location.
For instance, let’s say you’re a sales rep who is flying to St. Louis for a client meeting. With some CRM and sales automation applications, location-aware functionality could be used to alert you to other prospects or clients within a 50-mile radius from your primary meeting. This kind of proximity detection is able to highlight relevant information determined by location, rather than requiring you to think about it yourself and go looking for other contacts to check in with during a business trip.
Accessing CRM systems via mobile devices keeps sales reps productive on the road, which helps them to avoid spending additional time at the office just to keep up with paperwork. While users aren’t likely to always need the portability of a smartphone-type device, those could be used effectively in combination with a laptop/tablet convertible device with a tear-off screen. These tools now have enough power, memory and speed to run almost any business application.