October 18, 2011

6 New SPM Trends - Trend 2 - Sales Adoption of Mobile Devices

Last week I blogged about the 6 new trends I see in Sales Performance Management. The first trend was about the need to handle increased business complexity.  This week's blog is about mobile devices for sales teams.

It’s no surprise that Ipads, smartphones and other mobile devices are being adopted by sales forces everywhere. Smart devices are now outselling laptops[1].   It seems almost every week there is a new entrant into the tablet wars.  The market is expected to grow from 26 million to over 80 million tablet users in the US[2] alone. 

Many questions are now being considered by sales organizations everywhere. What is the appropriate mobile device for the sales team?  What is the right set of functionality that needs to be delivered to the mobile device?    There is no universal right answer, and the adoption of mobile technology for sales teams is a broader issue than SPM.  There are three key things that organizations have to look at when it comes to mobile adoption - Device Support, Functionality, and Culture.

Device Support – What platform do you need to support?  On the tablet side, Apple has gone out to an early lead with about 68%[3] market share of all tablets sold.  The market however is still young and there is lots of room for technology advances.  Organizations must consider whether they want to take a device specific approach, or an agnostic approach.  Looking for vendors who support standards like HTML5 and browser agnostic support gives an organization the most flexibility in tablet support.  Applications coded specifically for a platform may have tighter integration with that platform, but will be more limiting in terms of device support as the market matures and shifts.

Functionality -   Once the platform is decided, and then you must decide what functionality you want to deliver on the mobile device.  In most SPM scenarios simply replicating a full desktop or web experience on a smartphone doesn’t work.  Have a look at your current commission statement and imagine how much would be viewable on a Blackberry, Android or Iphone window.  Typically commission reports are multi-page statements with lots of columns and in order to comprehend the entire statement you would have to be able to look at more than one or two columns at a time.  Organizations are well advised to design reports and outputs specifically for the mobile device, and not settle for delivering full reporting onto mobile devices – just because you can.

Culture - this is often overlooked when considering mobile device support.  Some Sales Leaders want to ‘get everything on the smartphone and tablet’ to avoid all the wasted time lugging around laptops, trying to figure out VPN or other connecting activities.  The idea of ‘right here right now’ information delivery has a huge value over waiting for the sales reps to connect when they are back home, in a hotel or office.    There is another train-of-thought where sales leaders are concerned about everything that takes away from their sales teams ability to have customer facing time during the day.  The idea of delivering commissions, quota and territory update information constantly throughout the day is a distraction.  Their belief is that this kind of information should be delivered to the laptop/desktop when the reps are not out in the field.

The overriding trend we are seeing in mobile device support is that the adoption of mobile technology for sales is directly proportional to the frequency of data updates.  Organizations that report on sales and commissions daily are much more likely to want to drive this information out to mobile devices than organizations who update their data monthly or quarterly. 

[1]  IDC Worldwide Quarterly Phone Tracker, January, 2011
[2]  Forrester Research eReader Forecast 2010 – 2015 (US)
[3] IDC Worldwide Quarterly Media Tablet and eReader Tracker, September 2011

No comments: