By: Robert Feldmar
Virtually every company has at least some segment of their staff working outside of the office, from an insurance company to an auto parts manufacturer. That’s where the requirement for mobility comes in. But what are the key mobile areas for companies actively using Microsoft Dynamics 365/CRM? If your organization is planning for ways to take the next step toward digital transformation, then consider the broad range of today’s mobile tools and technologies that stand at the ready to move your business forward.
Just like hardware has come a long way since the early days of the first smartphones and tablets, employee and customer expectations of access to CRM data on the go have also grown rapidly. Let’s look at typical mobile application areas where we see Dynamics 365/CRM organizations realizing value today.
In the past, after closing a deal the sales reps would draw up an order for the customer which would then travel back and forth for alterations. Afterwards, the reps would put the order into CRM. This could take anywhere from a few hours to a few days (if the sales rep waits for the end of the week to complete his administrative tasks), and only then the order would be ready for processing.
However with a mobile CRM on a phone or tablet, reps have all the information – customer, product, pricing, purchase history, inventory details, etc. – at their fingertips. A sales rep closes a deal and right on the spot can create an order via the app. The customer can verify the information in the order and even sign it digitally. The sales then rep sends the order to the back office with a tap on the screen, so it can be processed instantly.
Be it a planned service visit or a last minute emergency, the back office can assign a service job in Dynamics 365/CRM and with a suitable mobile app the responsible technician will be notified about it immediately. When the tech arrives to the destination, the same app can help him/her tackle the task at hand – guiding the tech through the service process step-by-step, to ensure no important action gets omitted or forgotten.
However, painless data collection is equally important. Mobile solutions provide a variety of options to document the jobs effectively. From quickly typing in the details and prefilled options on forms, to selecting checkboxes and drop down picklists. And that’s just the start – field service teams can capture photos, attach audio recordings, or even add videos showing the difference before and after the service. Killing off unnecessary paperwork and re-typing of data at the same time.
Large part of the information stored in CRM can be utilized by external users as well. For example, with all the customer and product information, pricing and inventory availability, businesses can create consumer-oriented apps connected directly with Dynamics 365/CRM. So a customer can use a mobile app to order goods (or services) and the company will receive the order directly to their CRM – ultimately meaning that the product will find its way to customer’s hands faster.
Likewise, mobility can help governments and public institutions to connect with their citizens. With 117 billion euros provided for smart city projects across the European Union in the past 6 years alone, new technologies which further simplify life of citizens are on the rise. Municipalities utilizing Dynamics 365/CRM can build complete vertical solutions: E.g. citizens simply report issues via an app; city officials review the reports in the CRM and assign them to technicians and contractors, who will then document the work using a dedicated app of their own.
If you take into account the health & fitness data, or smart home control features, smartphones and tablets today contain even more sensitive data than traditional computers. All while risks of misplacing a mobile device are much higher than with a PC. So naturally, securing devices which contain confidential business data has become quintessential.
Many businesses still rely only on standard mobile device management (MDM) tools (Air Watch, Intune, Mobile Iron, etc.). But today, the most advanced mobile clients implement native security modules – a combination of app features and mobile device management tools, which ensure airtight security even without the need to install separate third-party tools. And since these are entwined deeply within the app, it can offer much more granular MDM capabilities. Essentials include an overview and management of mobile devices, multi-factor authentication, remote wipe/lock of the mobile client on any of the connected devices, or biometric login.
Mobile analytics is not about lack of trust in employees, as is sometimes mistakenly implied. It is about improving field operations, aiming for higher productivity and boosted overall results. After all, how can you get better if you can’t prove where things are breaking down? How can you go from “poor” to “excellent” if you can’t pinpoint where things are not going according to plan? Well, without collecting relevant data you simply cannot.
Leveraging the GPS capabilities of mobile devices, allows for the creation of mobile CRM apps that enable the back office to see whether the reps are indeed visiting the clients and working with the CRM data in the field. Mobile analytics can show you how many activities your field workers created, how many times they synchronized the app with the server, how many accounts they looked at, or if they even used the app today. You can see during what hours they use the app the most. You can easily identify who doesn’t use the app at all, or uses only a fraction of its capabilities. And, based on this info, you can start to make changes to improve your field team’s all-around performance.
Maps and route planning
The use of maps is still limited in the native Dynamics 365 mobile app. However for ISV providers of mobile solutions it is one of the main driving points as customers truly appreciate an interactive map as an alternative view. That means the map displays accounts, contacts, leads, or any other records with GPS coordinates near the user’s current geographic position.
Moreover, the most advanced apps have the map component fully interactive, which means that you can zoom in/out, filter the displayed records, search for a specific account, contact, etc. and tap a pin for a detailed info about the record. Or even plan an optimal daily route for the scheduled visits.
Many scenarios that rely heavily on mobility include inspections in one form or another – be it performing a store check, surveying a customer or collecting metering data. Mobile technology can be a backbone of effective inspection process and guide inspectors through every step of the job, just like field technicians mentioned earlier. With inspection apps including only the functionality that is essential to complete the task businesses are often looking for a robust app development platform – allowing them to build mobile apps for not-so-standard usage scenarios, yet still integrated with Dynamics 365/CRM.