In just about two years of the iPad’s existence approximately 11 percent of Americans already report owning a tablet device according to Pew Research Center. Nearly 75 percent of U.S. small and midsize businesses plan to purchase tablets in the next 12 months according to NPD Group, which also reports that 25 percent of worldwide mobile PC shipments in 2011 were tablets.
There’s no doubt that tablets and mobile devices are expanding beyond personal use into businesses. Just 18 to 24 months ago, mobile extension of business and customer management systems was still considered an extra, even a luxury, due to IT complexities and costs. The emergence of tablets and advanced handheld devices, apps aplenty and technologies like HTML5 to integrate everything has changed all that – mobility has become a must have.
If you haven’t already, here are five reasons to make the jump to mobile or justify integrating it further into your business.
1. The perfect storm. Devices used to be proprietary, too varied in capabilities and cost-prohibitive to support a wide range of them. Today a competitive marketplace of vendors and wireless providers provides high performing and affordable mobility. Wireless access is increasingly reliable and public hotspots are nearly ubiquitous. Factor in the depth and breadth of mobile applications and you’ll find all the essential pieces are in place.
2. Fly, be free. Mobile devices untether entrepreneurs and business professionals from their desktop computers — actually, they extend them. The read/write capabilities most mobile apps have mean users can not only access important customer details like contact information, sales history and negotiable price points, but also make edits, create new entries and use many of the features they normally use at their desks.
Employees can even stay productive during flights via “airplane modes” most devices and mobile apps now support.
Security gives you peace of mind too. Topline wireless encryption is becoming standard and many devices and apps have password protected log-ins as well as kill switches to disable an entire device or application-specific data in the event of theft or loss.
3. Modernized makeover. Let’s admit it, professional appearance is part of successful selling. Fumbling to boot up a laptop or revealing an aged and weathered smartphone may not make the best impression on clients and prospects. Providing employees efficient access to critical information while meeting with prospective customers is reason enough to invest in mobile technology.
4. Convert time drain into time gain. Sales personnel can increase productivity by “stealing” time from traditional downtimes such as during a cab ride or waiting for others to arrive for a meeting. Mobile devices help users manage their workloads by breaking up tedious tasks into bite-sized pieces. An extra few minutes of effort in flight and a few more standing in the cab line, for example, can turn even the most loathed yet essential tasks into more productive and profitable outcomes.
5. Mobile is for closers. For salespeople, success is found at the intersection of opportunity and availability. Timing! Being able to access customer information anytime, anywhere gives businesses a competitive advantage. Adding the capability to accept credit cards on the spot leverages this advantage even further — employees can use a mobile payments app and snap a card reader onto their devices for secure, Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliant processing.
Having mobile capabilities available right out of your pocket or briefcase can often be the difference between a sale or a “so long.”
Canadian high-end menswear retailer Harry Rosen uses a Sage mobile CRM system. The company’s sales associates are actually asked to purchase their own mobile devices but they don’t mind. It helps to have each customer’s history at hand whenever one walks in a store helps close more business and increase their commissions; they’re happier still to have CRM access on whichever device they prefer. One associate tells of a client unsure about purchasing a new suit. The associate snapped a picture of him wearing the suit and emailed his wife, whose approving response was returned minutes later. Abandoned suit averted. Immediate sale secured.
Above all, consider how the smartphones and tablets already at use in our personal lives add value, because this easily transcends to business too. People inherently know how to use mobile devices and are growing quite accustomed to them. The next generation of employees will simply expect mobile access, so committing now aids readiness too. Now is the best time yet to fully adopt mobile and trust it can generate measurable benefits for your business.
Larry Ritter is senior vice president and general manager with responsibility for Sage’s Contact Management Solutions.