Mobile customer relationship management (CRM) applications are becoming an increasingly important requirement as selling in competitive industries requires that a sales force be mobile first and out in the field calling on customers. This summer, I had a chance to speak with bpm'online which bills themselves as a mobile friendly CRM platform. bpm'online is a European-based operation and still relatively new in the US market.
First impressions of bpm'online
I spent some time checking out the free trial version of bpm'online and my first impression is while the company offers platform targeting marketing, sales, customer service, ITIL service, so much information about options on their web site might be confusing for some some people new to cloud CRM unfamiliar with these specialty CRM niches. For purposes of this article, I signed up for their sales platform using the standard sign-up on their website.
The sales platform is available at a range of pricing.
Using bpm'online Mobile 7
The app opens to a well-designed contacts screen. It strikes the right balance of minimalism and usability on the iPhone 6 screen. This shows an example of the Contacts screen:
At first impression, the design of the New contact screen is easy to use and inviting. You have the option to take a picture of your contact or let bpm'online to access your phone to use a photo already on your phone.
bpm'online mobile 7 doesn't have separate fields for a contact's first and last name which is interesting. My first thought is it might limit how I would be able to filter customer data. This shows the new contact screen:
When entering an account, you do it from a fly-up screen that included a list of all the accounts in the trial CRM system. I also have the option to create a new account.
The rest of the new contact screen includes all that important data you want to capture about current and new customers including:
- Current Employment
- Noteworthy Events
When you first setup the bpm'online mobile app, you'll have to sync the mobile app with the cloud platform. I was able to sync the trial environment data rather quickly. However, for organizations with lots of CRM data, I'm not sure I would do the initial sync just on device data but rather over Wi-Fi before I hit the road to meet with a customer.
The activities screen in bpm'online mobile 7 is a calendar, and I was hoping for something more interactive with this feature. While you can add a New Activity with attachments and participants, I was hoping for more tools to manage and capture the results of activities more efficiently. Perhaps in a future iteration of the app, I guess.
Managing leads using bpm'online mobile is done through the same elegant yet minimalist screen that characterized bpm'online mobile 7 app. The Leads screen is easy to read and scroll through. When you tap on a lead, you have the typical information you'd expect for a lead including communications options and their address.
Reviewing and managing opportunities
The Opportunities screen is a great example of how mobile CRM apps can communicate critical opportunities data to a mobile sales force, clearly and succinctly. If you are a salesperson, you'd have no problem reviewing opportunities anytime/anywhere even if you are in a client's waiting room.
Tap the plus sign on the top right hand of the screen, and you can enter in new opportunities you want to enter into bpm'online. The only thing I didn't like on this screen is the Probability % field. I felt there was a better way to manage that important input beyond just a blank data field.
In the bpm'online trial environment, I was able to access dashboards for opportunities and activities. The sales pipeline on the Opportunities dashboard is one of the best executions of such a view from a mobile app that I've seen in a while:
When you select the Activities dashboard, you'll be able to see charts showing activities by status and another chart for activities by opportunity stage:
All in all, I like the "glance factor" of both dashboards.
The Settings option is Spartan with fields for server address, username, and password. There's also a Synchronization button available. Tap on Advanced and you can access controls for synchronization, workplace, clearing the synchronization log, and clearing the cache.
While it can be daunting to go against a platform as ubiquitous as Salesforce, I'm sure I'm not the only one who thinks that they might be flirting with being too many things to too many people and risk losing focus on their core CRM business. bpm'online could fall into this same trap as I found their trial onboarding materials a bit overwhelming but can recommend their mobile app wholeheartedly
The challenge for bpm'online is to cut through the noise in the CRM much less mobile CRM markets to bring customers on board that could benefit from their capable and well designed CRM tools.
Will Kelly is a freelance technical writer and analyst currently focusing on enterprise mobility, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), and the consumerization of IT. He has also written about cloud computing, Big Data, virtualization, project management applications, Google Apps, Microsoft technologies, and online collaboration for TechRepublic and other sites. Will also works as a contract technical writer for clients in the Washington, DC area and nationwide. Follow Will on Twitter: @willkelly.