These days, every CRM package available in the market place offers mobile capabilities ranging from simple account & contact management to complex service functionalities.
However, most of these mobility solutions are simple extensions of the core CRM capabilities on to a mobile device rather than a core mobile application delivered. As a result, companies adopting mobile business strategies often incur steep implementation and enhancement costs. The situation is similar to expensive web strategies companies adopted during the mid to late 90s when web technologies were yet to be consolidated. Now, you can have your web front or web store opened for $19.99 or less per month. I believe similar consolidation will bring down the implementation time and costs of mobile CRM projects. Until then, Mobile CRM remains as an expensive strategy.
That being said, the looming question remains, what should be the interim mobile strategy of a company?
My suggestion is that we should look at B2B and B2C Mobile strategies.
When it comes to a B2B mobile strategy, the answer is simple. Mobilize the business essential functionality on to the preferred mobile devices and wait for mobile CRM tools to evolve.
The answer is not as easy when it comes to B2C mobile strategies. Most companies that focus on US consumers can’t wait to adapt a successful B2C mobile strategy since 80% or more of their consumers are equipped with a mobile device. This is even more applicable when it comes to consumers in India and China, where you can reach almost all consumers via cell phone. With operating systems such as Symbian, iPhone, Android, RIM, Palm and Windows all having a presence on mobile devices, companies have had the difficult task of building apps to work across multiple mobile operating systems.
The potential game changer is that the mobile operating system space is consolidating with Android estimated to support 50% of the mobile devices used in the US by 2010. However, it is interesting to note that 50% of VC funding goes to mobile apps developed on iPhone and 20% goes to companies developing applications on RIM. One possible reason could be that owning an iPhone or BlackBerry is an indicator of the purchasing power of the iPhone/BlackBerry owners vs. other phone owners.
The B2C segment will continue to develop and deploy standalone mobile marketing, sales, and service strategies without waiting for the industry to deliver easy to deploy tools.