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Wireless CRM boom: An overview of the major players

This is the year that wireless Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is supposed to come into its own, according to industry experts. This article summarizes the offerings of some of the major players in this increasingly competitive environment.

Wireless Customer Relationship Management (CRM) has been kicking around awhile, but this is the year that it's supposed to come into its own, according to industry buzz. Now that the wireless infrastructure has expanded, devices have proliferated, and some of the security concerns have been addressed with new standards, many companies with a mobile sales force are taking a harder look at the benefits of anywhere-anytime access to their CRM applications. Wireless access promises to increase productivity for sales and service reps by giving them real-time access to customer information, even when they are out in the field.

In this article, we'll take a look at some of the major players and see what they are offering, as well as examine a few solutions that target the highly competitive small and medium business/enterprise market (SMB or SME).

Who's who in the wireless CRM market


Oracle PeopleSoft
PeopleSoft teamed with Research in Motion (RIM) to offer PeopleSoft® Enterprise Sales for BlackBerry™. Full-application functionality is delivered from the Java-based application that's installed on the Blackberry. Field reps can enter information once, and that data is stored simultaneously in the sales app and Outlook or IBM's Lotus Notes. When the device detects a wireless connection, it automatically syncs data with the core SFA (Sales Force Automation) system.

Siebel
Siebel offers on-premises CRM, as well as hosted solutions for both large enterprises and SMBs. Siebel recently announced its partnership with wireless provider Good Technology to offer its hosted solution, CRM OnDemand. Wireless access is provided via Palm and PocketPC devices, and eventually, Symbian-powered handhelds and smartphones.

SAP
mySAP CRM offers wireless access to field reps through a variety of devices: laptops, PDAs, and other handhelds. Mobile workers have access to core sales CRM functionality, including sales forecasting, sales pipeline data analysis, task management, quote generation, and submitting sales orders. The solutions can be tailored to the size of the enterprise, as well as the specific industry.

Microsoft
Microsoft CRM Mobile 1.2 targets the SMB market and divisions of larger enterprises. It is completely integrated with its CRM app, offering full-functionality from a Pocket PC or Pocket PC Phone Edition with Windows Mobile 2003 software. Even customizable forms are available in the mobile edition via the .NET Compact Framework.

IBM
IBM is making a strong bid in the mobile SMB market, partnering with Siebel to develop CRM solutions (including CRM OnDemand) on its WebSphere platform. It has become a market leader in providing pre-packaged, industry-specific wireless solutions.

Sybase
iAnywhere, a subsidiary of Sybase, provides mobile middleware, databases, and device management for CRM applications, such as ProspectSoft, which offers completely modular suites of CRM and other business management systems for SMBs. Wireless ProspectSoft is optimized for Intel's Centrino mobile technology on laptops and a variety of handheld devices.

Salesforce.com
This hosted CRM solution offers a Wireless Edition that is free to its Enterprise Edition customers. Via RIM Blackberry, wireless PDAs, or a WAP-enabled mobile phone, mobile workers have a real-time connection to salesforce.com with no need to sync data. It also supports natural-language queries that are interpreted by the application for ease-of-use. Salesforce.com recently announced its partnership with Nextel for its wireless service.

Saleslogix for PocketPC
Saleslogix, from parent company Best Software, targets SMBs with its CRM offerings. Its full-featured CRM solution, which is available via the PocketPC device gives sales reps the ability to view, add, and edit contacts and accounts; complete tickets; schedule meetings; and more.

Salesnet
Hosting both the CRM application and the data, Salesnet is sold by subscription in a range of editions, according to the size of the enterprise and the type of industry. It claims to be the first wireless CRM application available on RIM Blackberry, as well as the first to include IM chat to a CRM system.

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