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Onyx Joins Mobile CRM Parade

Onyx’ new Portable CRM family of mobile applications for the mid-market is designed to allow field employees to access the specific information they need on any given day or business trip.

Using the new suite, which features a light-footprint architecture, mobile professionals can access Onyx Enterprise CRM via different portable computing and wireless devices to manage customer interactions, sales opportunities and service and support cases.

The Portable CRM lineup includes offline laptop access and data synchronization, real-time wireless access through handheld devices, and real-time wireless access through WAP-enabled devices (including mobile phones, pagers, two-way radios and smartphones). All products in these three categories have similar interfaces and resemble the online Onyx CRM offering that runs on corporate networks.

Keeping It Simple

Onyx said its Portable CRM products do not require added software. Instead, they use thin, browser-based clients that can be deployed and updated automatically from a standard URL.

“The lightweight architecture helps keep maintenance costs low,” said Richard Heitman, Onyx product manager for Portable CRM. “The interface runs inside a browser and does not require proprietary components. The focus is on convenience. You need better-designed products to be effective in this environment.”

“You have to provide an easy transition from online to offline,” Heitman told CRM Buyer. “Mobile workers need a user interface they can learn and use anywhere without too much additional training, which mid-market companies cannot afford.”

Staying Thin

However, users need to determine whether or not the software’s light-footprint design is suitable for them, according to Joe Galvin, Gartner vice president and research director. “When the salesperson is not in the office, he does not have full functionality,” he told CRM Buyer. “His company has to decide if he needs the full functionality when disconnected that the traditional fat client provides.

“There are costs and advantages to either approach,” Galvin added. “There’s only one right answer for each organization, and the answer is different for each organization.”

Onyx executives say Portable CRM provides 70 percent of the functionality of a rich client, but the real-world figure is probably a little less, said Laura Preslan, research director at AMR. “It’s good that Onyx has added functions that customers are asking for,” she told CRM Buyer. “It’s not always convenient to have Web connections open in an airport, for example.”

Lagging Behind

However, Onyx is behind many of its competitors in introducing a mobile version of its software, Preslan said.

The list of companies that already have mobile CRM capabilities is long. It includes such giants as PeopleSoft, Oracle, SAP and Siebel as well as smaller vendors E.piphany, NetLedger, Pivotal, Salesnet, Salesforce.com and UpShot.

All products in the Onyx Portable CRM suite have an incremental license fee in the range of US$100 to $300, in addition to the standard pricing for online users of Onyx’ Enterprise CRM suite, Heitman said. There is also a discounted bundle price for companies that want to deploy any or all Portable CRM products.

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