CRMs Move To Tablet Market With iPad Apps

Amy Buttell Special Correspondent In Pennsylvania 29 June 2011

CRMs Move To Tablet Market With iPad Apps

As more financial services companies adopt tablet computers for their mobile workforces, CRM system providers are beginning to embrace tablet applications for their CRMs so that financial advisors on the go can have access to data on a larger screen than a smartphone. Tablets have become so popular that many advisors are buying their own tablets and bringing them to work, forcing the issue for their employers, as well as CRM, financial planning, investment management and other software and cloud-based solution providers.

More than 40 per cent of financial advisors surveyed by ByAllAccounts, an account aggregation provider, already own a tablet computer and of those, 93 per cent use them in client meetings. Based on an analysis of its user base, Good Technology, a provider of multi-platform enterprise mobility solutions, states that financial services companies are among the heaviest users and earliest adopters of iPads.

With more than 10 million iPads set to be purchased by businesses in 2011, according to a projection by Deloitte, 2011 is set to be the year when many wirehouses, broker-dealers and independent RIAs hop on the tablet bandwagon. So CRM providers need to be ready to respond to that need. In a report by Aite Group, 15 per cent of advisors surveyed stated that they currently used a CRM application on a mobile device and 58 were interested in having their CRM system available on a tablet or smartphone app in the future.

Sophie Schmitt, who authored the Aite Group report, entitled CRM For Wealth Management: Approaching Total Practice Management, believes that CRM mobile apps are in their infancy, but that there’s a lot of potential and room for growth. “There’s the potential with applications like Salesforce’s Chatter to get snippets of the most relevant information pushed out to your iPhone or iPad rather than having to go and get it by logging into your CRM system,” she says.

“If you can access information like that through your email account, that’s much more convenient than logging into your CRM on the road,” she adds. “There would be an opportunity created for a new potential client then you could get new information about that client on any device at any time. It would unlock that data and make it more relevant.”

The move to CRM mobile apps follows the popularity of Cloud-based/SaaS solutions, which advisors are turning to at a rapid rate due to the cost benefits of outsourcing IT, the flexibility of those solutions, and the easiness of upgrade. In her report, Schmitt wrote: “More and more advisors will seek to switch to browser-based solutions that can automate workflow and enable information across the firm and across devices. Another business driver of cloud solutions that can provide both computing platforms and applications as service is the ability to take advantage of new innovations in consumer, sales, service and market technology more quickly compared to solution platforms that reside in-house.”

iPads offer their own encryption and CRM solution vendors also offer additional security, so wealth managers interested in using mobile apps can be assured that security isn’t an issue, notes Bill Winterberg, a technology consultant to financial advisors in Dallas, Texas. And since data resides in the cloud rather than on the iPad, the risk that a lost iPad will compromise firm security is virtually nothing.

Not all CRMs have proprietary apps for their systems; many are still browser-based, which are certainly easier to access on tablets rather than Smartphones. However, apps designed especially for tablets tend be more useful than those that are completely-browser based. Here’s a round-up of some of the most popular iPad apps currently available in the CRM space:


Salesforce Chatter:

Overview: Access Salesforce’s internal enterprise collaboration tool via your smartphone for updates on the co-workers, projects and data that you’re currently working.

Features: Can view files related to a person or group and post images; can create posts, find and follow people and groups and contact co-workers via email, phone or text.

Cost: Free to users of Salesforce Chatter.

Salesforce Mobile

Overview: One of three Salesforce smartphone apps, it provides full access to Salesforce’s CRM solution on the road.

Features: Respond to leads, log calls, access information about opportunities, receive reminders, online and offline access, examine dashboards and interface with Salesforce Chatter.

Cost: $50 per month, per user for the Professional and Enterprise edition subscribers, free for unlimited subscribers.

Salesforce Mobile Lite

Overview: Permits free, basic access to Salesforce CRM on the go.

Features: Access and create leads; create, edit and delete information; examine dashboards, events and tasks.

Cost: Free to Salesforce subscribers

Microsoft Dynamics

Overview: A number of third-party developers have developed mobile apps for Microsoft Dynamics that include access to all or various parts of the CRM system. Here are some of the most popular third-party apps:

CWR Mobile CRM

Features: Online and offline access to Dynamics data on the go, allows access to data outside a profile when covering for a colleague, encrypted connections, permits access to data on multiple devices at the same time (a smartphone and iPad, for example) and integrates within native email, calendar, phone, tasks and other functions.

Cost: Several licensing tiers available

Mobile Edge for Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Features: Access to Dynamics data on the road, automatically syncs data on mobile devices, desktops and laptops, complete online and offline access, encrypted connections.

Cost: Several licensing tiers available

Mobile Client for Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Features: Complete access to all data available online, encrypted connections, can update contacts, calendar and other information and automatically syncs all data across devices.

Pivotal CRM

Overview: Provides CRM access on the go.

Features: Streamlined interface, wireless and network access, read/write access to companies, contacts, opportunities and activities.

Cost: Several licensing tiers available

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