Mobile CRM: Go Green to Get Green
As is so sadly the case with many environment-oriented subjects, Green IT was consigned to the back burner at a lot of businesses when the economy began grinding its gears several years ago.
The same thing happened to a lesser extent to some potentially game-changing CRM strategies, most notably mobile CRM. We have a natural tendency to pull in when times get tough and to shy away from trying something new, and in the CRM world there's always some room to concentrate on getting the basics right.
It may seem odd, but mobile CRM plays right into the idea of Green IT, and it does so in a way that places zero burden on the business while at the same time same saving money. And as we all know in these times of austerity, money saved is money directly added to the bottom line.
Let's start with mobile CRM. This technology has come of age, and it's providing access to CRM in the way users want it, especially younger users. In the first quarter of this year, more smartphones were shipped than desktop PCs. While this doesn't mean the death knell of the PC, it does signify a permanent change in the device content consumers will use.
Even if mobile CRM didn't provide unique functionality, this would be an important data point. The major CRM killer remains adoption, and you can see why: It requires that a generation of sales and marketing workers who are accustomed to using their phones to do business must head back to their desks and spend a chunk of their days entering data into CRM through the PC.
Those same workers can be seen happily using their smartphones for a host of formerly PC-bound tasks, like email and scheduling. And they're the ones who selected the devices they prefer -- they weren't foisted upon them by the IT department. Fifty-six percent of IT departments now provide at least some support for the phones their employees bring in, according to a report issued by Forrester Research last week.
Mobile CRM allows these users to employ an interface they have already expressed a preference for -- but beyond that, it allows them to enter data as they acquire it, even when they're in the field. The devotion of a few minutes to CRM data entry after each of a series of meetings is far less onerous than the end-of-the-day dump of data into a PC-bound CRM system -- and it's more likely to result in user adoption.
This is in addition to the benefits mobile CRM confers by putting important data in the hands of sales and service people in the field -- or wherever they might be.
Pocket the Savings
How does this tie into Green IT? Well, a smartphone uses about one Watt of power per hour under heavy use, while a desktop machine consumes about 45 Watts per hour. That doesn't take into account the draw of an external monitor, which would consume additional power (about 28 Watts per hour for a 17-inch LCD).
While PCs do have some power-saving features built into them, much of the thinking behind smartphones revolves around energy savings, because a limited battery life is a guaranteed route to a limited consumer appeal in the phone market.
Thus, if your users shift toward their handheld devices and away from their PCs, the result is less energy used; over time, that can add up to savings for your company.
Also, don't forget the trend toward smartphones bought and selected by the customer. The wear and tear on your own PC assets will be less, and any damage sustained by the users is likely to be paid for by the employee.
Note that none of this thinking has anything to do with preserving ice caps or hugging trees -- it's strictly about the green you put in your pocket.
Sometimes, doing what is profitable is the same as doing what's right. From three perspectives -- the effectiveness of mobile CRM at improving adoption, the improvement in capability mobile CRM can provide to your employees, and the bottom-line savings in energy that mobile CRM can give you by shifting usage away from desktop and laptop PCs -- mobile CRM represents one of those rare opportunities.