Making BYOD Work with CRM

By Rick Cook

BYOD also brings with it a raft of security and usability issues that have to be recognized and dealt with. This may involve completely rewriting the CRM user interface or adding new security features.

In spite of the problems, BYOD is here to stay. According to a recent survey only 14 percent of companies had no plans to integrate user-owned devices into their IT systems.

Of course CRM is one of the primary applications to be integrated with

BYOD. There are several reasons, technical and business, for tying CRM to BYOD.

One of the main ones is that at the application level this is very easy to do. Most of the intelligence and processing in a typical CRM application is done on the remote server, making the smartphone or tablet simply a user interface.

This is very much a two-edged sword however since the CRM server must support a variety of user interfaces with different screen sizes, resolutions, etc. The best way to do this is to write an intermediate application layer that sits between the CRM server and the device which can be tweaked to support any desired device.

The other common solution, writing a web interface for both the server and the device, is less effective, slower and tends to have problems with sophisticated CRM applications.

If this sounds like work, it is because it is. Not only does the intermediate layer have to work with current devices, it has to be adaptable to future devices. Since those devices are arriving at the sedate pace of an onrushing freight train, the time to think about those future devices is now. This is also why writing the CRM application for a bunch of existing devices without the middle layer is a losing proposition.

The other major reasons for BYOD in CRM are more business related than technical. Letting your people use devices they are throughly familiar with not only saves the company money, it improves the efficiency of the CRM process.

Users are notoriously attached to their particular mobile devices. It makes sense to let them work on the device they are more comfortable with.

In addition the proliferation of mobile devices has changed the way of doing CRM. It no longer makes sense for a CRM user to wait until he or she gets back to the office to enter data from sales calls. It is more natural and error free to enter the data on the customer’s site through a mobile device.

BYOD also introduces a raft of security issues to CRM. From password protection, to guarding against lost devices, these are all issues that assume special importance when the mobile devices don’t belong to the company.
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