Android and iPhone smartphones are really cool, but are they any better than an old BlackBerry for doing real business on the road? I don’t mean browsing consumer-oriented sites, watching movies or playing games, but using critical business applications. Have you ever tried to navigate your back office enterprise applications on the road, or even the more modern cloud-based applications like Salesforce? They are virtually unusable! Even the soon-to-be-released touchscreen version of Salesforce may work on an iPad, but it’s terrible on a smartphone.
The reason is simple: It’s not the devices, but the applications! IT-developed applications are still in the dark ages compared with the consumer world. Traditional applications are great at storing data, keeping it safe and clean. But when it comes to the way we want to interact with them on the road, no dice. The apps themselves aren’t formatted properly for new mobile screens, so they look awful. The on-screen keyboards that dominate make it difficult to enter information and navigation is kludgy. As a result, the efficiency and productivity advantages of mobile go out the window. So how can you and your team be efficient with inefficient tools?
Let’s say you’re sitting in a coffee shop, preparing for a meeting with a customer or a prospect. An enterprise application like Salesforce should make it easy to access everything that’s related to the opportunity, including hints around messaging as well as cross-selling and up-selling. And after the meeting, Salesforce should let you take notes right then and there — while it’s still fresh in your mind and the creative juices are flowing — not later when you get home or back to your desk.
Salesforce and the thousands of AppEx developers/consultants that comprise their ecosystem, however, have designed their applications for people sitting at a desk, not for people on the go. So, the pain points that sales organizations face concerning best practices for cultivating business, generating revenue, improving efficiency, adopting sales tools, messaging consistency, etc.? All those problems get magnified when salespeople are no longer tethered to their desks.
If they are going to succeed on the road, salespeople need a new interaction pattern that leverages their smartphones’ built-in device capabilities, such as voice-to-text dictation, and automated processes — that they or their managers design themselves — without AppEx coders who are back at the office.
Can Salesforce be adapted practically to mobile? Absolutely. That’s what a big part of what we do today!