Best-in-class companies are much more likely (2.4 times, in fact) than less successful organizations to enable ERP through mobile devices. The most effective solutions are those tailored to meet the needs of the individual or role in the organization. These statistics were gathered by the Aberdeen Group.*
No matter if your small or mid-sized company is a manufacturer, distributor, or focuses on service, to create a mobile strategy, where do you start? Before you get to that point, it’s important to determine whether investing in a mobile sales app is right for you. Here are some questions that can help you decide if your company should take that step and move to a mobile-enabled ERP.
1. Which software and other information sources does your sales team already use?
Is your business using traditional sales tools such as CRM systems, price catalogues, white papers, technical spec documents, ERP/order entry and quoting systems, and proposal templates? If so, take a hard look at how responsive these tools are to customers’ demands. If your salesperson or customer service rep can only access needed information sources while seated at a desk, or if the alternative is to lug around multiple devices, then your company may not be as effectively responsive. Consider the data and images your salesperson needs.
In this fast-paced competitive world, do you want to be the ones saying you’ll get back to a customer later? No way! Your sales team needs to quickly provide current pricing, product photos, video demos, or other descriptors, and rapid quotes.
Take a good inventory of your current systems and processes. Have your top sales people explain how they use each tool. Consider doing mock presentations and play the role of customer to assess potential frustration levels with information availability. This analysis will go a long way toward determining the current viability of your sales process.
2. Which software tools are used by your industry’s best-in-class companies?
“Know that if you are not doing it, someone in your industry is.” This was the conclusion drawn in a study by Deloitte called, “The Dawn of Mobile Influence.” They also determined that m-commerce (mobile commerce) will grow by 250% through 2016, a rate 6 times the expected growth rate of e-commerce. Will your company be left behind?
What’s so great about mobile? Ask the CEO of Groupon and founder of Echo Global Logistics Eric Lefkovsky. Here are a few of the excellent points he lists in his blog article, “A Spoonful of Mobile:”
- “It’s real time: you use it to achieve something NOW.”
- “It’s opportunistic: technology is at its best when it’s relevant.”
- “It’s geo targeted: knowing where you are makes it technology smarter and more relevant.”
- “It’s social: it’s designed to interact with those around you.”
3. Would you freak out if you learned when top competitors conduct sales meetings with their prospects and customers, they provide quotes and close new business–on the spot?
In case you didn’t already know, this is happening while you read this article. The companies in your industry with mobile apps are better prepared to answer questions, record data and eliminate redundancy each step of the way. (Oh, and close those deals, too.)
In time, the fastest, best processes will cannibalize old methods, as well they should. Mobile capabilities give prospects or customers reason to gain confidence, as they receive speedy, accurate responses. Also, from a behind-the-scenes perspective, manual methods of doing business are time consuming, and require unnecessary personnel costs. Save your HR budget for more meaningful tasks and free up the hours employees devote to data entry.
This begs the question: Will you be a forerunner or can you afford to wait?
4. What is the value of mobility for your sales reps? Does your sales team count on tools only available at the office to serve the customer or prospect?
In this mobile world of quick information retrieval options, businesses can’t afford to rely on desktops and other office-based peripherals. People have come to expect answers in real-time, and from any location.
Also, the workforce culture has changed, with more employees working from home, often to accommodate a work-life balance. The line between business and personal time can also be difficult to differentiate, as we may even cultivate our most meaningful connections on the soccer field sidelines or the train platform.
In a world where business can be conducted on the fly, and opportunities arise when least expected, is having your sales and customer service reps tethered to a two foot long landline telephone cord going to cut it for you?
5. Do you pretty much have either a smart phone or tablet with you all the time?
Consider going for 12 hours without a phone or tablet. (Breathe!! This is hypothetical!) In this scenario, you are not spending the day in waders, fly fishing with your buddies in a beautiful brook, or lying supine under the Tahitian sun with the sand under your bare feet, with a cold drink while catching up on fiction.
(Re-focus!) Bring your mind back to a regular workday. How many ways do you rely on your phone or tablet throughout the course of a day? If you think it’s just frivolous, keep a mobile journal on a weekday.
Here’s an example of one morning in the life of an iPhone user:
6:00 a.m. Woke up to phone alarm. Checked work e-mail with Mail app. Calendar alert reminded of meeting at office. Grabbed documents. Turned on radio app and listened to news while making breakfast. Over cereal, checked Facebook. Exchanged texts with a loved one. Checked bank account with app, and paid a bill. Used transit tracker to check for any travel delays. On train, used blog app to edit article. Using music app and headphones, listened to uplifting song. Checked notes app to verify new office entry code. 8:30, sat at desk. Switched to laptop.
6. Can you imagine business shifting away from the smart phone and tablet technology? In other words, do you think it’s a fad?
If it works, why fix it? Smart phones and tablets are only getting more powerful, with added features, apps, and options for interaction. Even the youngest humans among us are rocking the iPads long before entering kindergarten, with educational games and art making apps.
Would it make sense to take this away when mobile technology is becoming imbedded into our culture from an early age? When mobile apps can connect more people, more quickly, and allow businesses to close deals from remote locations, would the smart people who develop the devices and apps simply bail because it’s “too trendy?” Businesses that decide not to hop on board will soon wish they didn’t think they were too cool to join the bandwagon train, as they watch the string of cars roll down the tracks and disappear into the horizon.
At xkzero we’re passionate about mobile technology and making it work in your ERP system environment. If you would like to talk with us about creating a whole new mobile reality for your business we would love to hear from you.
You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 847-416-2009.
* Published 8/25/14 Mobile ERP: Taking ROI Into Your Own Hands