Upcoming Microsoft CRM Clients Promise Productivity, Mobility

Upcoming Microsoft CRM Clients May Mean More Productivity
The productivity of salespeople could jump with the upcoming release of native Microsoft Dynamics CRM applications for specific mobile platforms and put the software vendor ahead of some of its competitors, an expert says.

CRM applications on mobile devices already improve productivity 14.6% for sales staff that use them, says Rebecca Wettemann, vice president of research for Nucleus Research, and these native apps should work that much better on their respective platforms, she says.

[BACKGROUND: Microsoft to roll out wave of native mobile apps for its CRM software]

Microsoft has announced that next quarter it will release native Dynamics CRM clients for its own Windows Phone 7 as well as Android 2.2, BlackBerry and Apple's iOS.

With native apps customized for each platform, the look and feel of the application on each device should improve over what it would be with a generic client, Wettemann says.

"I wouldn't say they're out in front, but native clients out of the box is pretty advanced," she says, and no vendor has delivered them for all these platforms yet, although that is where it's headed. "We're going to see all vendors doing model-specific clients."

[Related: Salesforce Alternatives: 5 CRM Services for SMBs]

She says this is a necessary step for Microsoft because ease of use is important to CRM customers that want to support mobile devices, and native clients will be a step in that direction. For example, a December 2011 case study by Nucleus says that Kimberly-Clark had to develop custom Salesforce CRM applications for iPads used by its field sales people.

Mobile devices are enormously popular among salesforces: The iPhone is the most commonly used device for accessing CRM, Wettemann says, with 67% of CRM users using their iPhone to access CRM.

For its part, Microsoft says that it recognizes the rapidly growing desire for mobile CRM apps and that this is the fastest way it sees for supporting all the major devices. It is also working on a single HTML5 client that will work well on all platforms, but that will take awhile.

Read more about software in Network World's Software section.

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