The Next Phase of Enterprise Mobility: From Productivity to Customer Engagement

April 12, 2013 Balakrishna Narasimhan

This week, Gartner released three stunning pieces of data that demonstrate that enterprise IT is going through another dramatic shift (via @alexwilliams). First, Gartner reported that PC shipments were down 11% since the same quarter in 2012. We knew we were moving into the post-PC era, but the speed with which the shift is happening is surprising. Second, Gartner reported that in 2012, 39% of all CRM was delivered through SaaS and that Salesforce was the leading CRM vendor overall. Third, they projected that mobile CRM apps are set to explode from about 200 apps today to 1200 apps by 2014.

Put all that together and there are three clear implications:

  • Customer information increasingly lives in the cloud, mostly within Salesforce
  • Most business’ internal and external customers will access customer information on mobile devices
  • People much prefer task-specific mobile apps rather than all-purpose desktop-style apps

Salesforce as the Customer Interaction Hub
Salesforce has made mobility a key part of their CRM application over the past few years. In fact, one could even argue that Salesforce’s enthusiastic embrace of Chatter was in fact driven by the need for a feed-centric and mobile-friendly way of interacting with their applications. The release of the new Chatter mobile apps and Marc Benioff’s recent announcement that Chatter will become the primary interface for Salesforce bear out this line of thinking.

While the Salesforce and Chatter mobile apps address the needs of many sales and customer service users, there’s a much larger opportunity for Salesforce to become the hub for all customer interactions (internal and external). But realizing this vision means making it much easier to create both internal and customer-facing mobile apps that can consume information stored in Salesforce. No coincidence then that this week Salesforce announced a new version of their Mobile SDK and Mobile Packs that support popular JavaScript development frameworks to address this growing need (via @dhenschen).

Academy of Art University: Using Mobility to Reimagine the Student Experience
Institutions are already taking advantage of some of these capabilities to change the way they engage with customers. For instance, Appirio has been working with the Academy of Art University in San Francisco to use the student information they have in Salesforce/Force.com to reimagine the student experience with mobility. The University uses Salesforce to store student information including classes, activities and location. Appirio helped AAU create a mobile app that brings personalized information to each student that helps them do everything they need to do on a daily basis – from finding out what their class schedule is for the day, to where their next class is, and how to get there using AAU’s extensive bus network. The app seamlessly brings together class and schedule information from Salesforce and a real-time GPS system that tracks bus locations.

AAU’s Campus Application

Speaking to CITEWorld this week, Academy of Art CIO Erik Viens said that since the app launched in September, it has had 9,100 unique visitors, 120,000 page views, and 92 percent of traffic from returning users. Impressive results considering that this represents the vast majority of the University’s 12,000 San Francisco-based students!

The Next Phase of Mobility: Mobile Customer Engagement
When companies first started with enterprise mobility, mobile apps were scaled-down versions of desktop enterprise applications. Now, mobile SaaS apps are much more specialized and contextual. For example, the Workday mobile app focuses on key elements that are relevant in a mobile context such as approvals, time off and org charts. But most enterprise mobile apps are still siloed within one application area or another. The Academy of Art University application is a new type of app that uses a cloud platform, Salesforce, to aggregate information from multiple sources and then creates a unified and contextually relevant mobile experience for the customer. The tools are now in place for every organization to create a similarly differentiated customer experience. The question is how.

Getting Started
There are 5 steps to creating a differentiated and unified mobile customer experience:

  1. Start by identifying a few customer segments that would benefit the most from mobility.
  2. Do some research (either direct with customers or with your field teams) to clarify and articulate customer pain points that could be addressed with a mobile solution.
  3. Inventory the information/transactions you have in various systems that could be brought together to solve targeted use cases.
  4. Decide how you want to architect your solution (native, hybrid or web), depending on the desired user experience and develop your application. If you don’t have mobile developers or UX experts in-house, consider communities like CloudSpokes and utest.
  5. Stay laser-focused on customer use cases and the user experience throughout the entire process. Keep paring back rather than adding functionality!

Good luck reimagining your customer experience with mobility. Let us know in comments or tweet @appirio if you have any questions!

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