Earlier this year, Direct Research interviewed 500 commercial employees in the Netherlands in a study on mobile apps commissioned by Exact Software. According to the results, the target group miss crucial customer information while on the road. Worryingly, it is precisely then that field sales employees need insight into the latest CRM data, equipping them to better respond to current developments at prospects and customers. Is the market making the most of the technology available?

Great demand for CRM apps
When Dutch employees in commercial positions were asked to choose what desktop application they would most like to see as a mobile app, most respondents (27 percent) said an application with customer data (CRM) on their smartphone or tablet. Other suggestions included time registration (26.8 percent) and project management (22.1 percent).

The same survey also indicated, however, that in practice, employees still do not make much use of customer information apps. Employees who do have business apps only use a CRM app in 4.7 percent of cases. This could be due to the limited range of CRM apps on offer or the fact that existing apps do not yet have the functionality they are looking for.

Up-to-date customer information is greatest advantage
The survey also showed that always having access to the latest customer data is the greatest advantage of using business apps. Almost 38 percent of employees cited this as the greatest benefit. Other benefits from the use of business apps included ease of use (35 percent) and time saved (17 percent). While you might expect that business apps are used most frequently while on the road, that is not the case. Apps are most frequently used at the office (38 percent), followed by on the road (just over 23 percent) and at home (12 percent).

Company size has an impact
The results also showed that the size of an organization has an impact on the preference for a particular app. The larger the company, the higher the demand for CRM apps. It emerged that at smaller organizations there is in fact more demand for financial apps.

Business apps are the employer’s responsibility
Over 72 percent of the respondents said that it was the employer’s responsibility to ensure that the employee can use business apps. Downloading the business apps to their own device is not a problem, however. More than 70 percent of the employees said they were not unwilling in this respect.

Erik van der Meijden, CEO of Exact: “The research clearly showed that the shift from desktop to mobile is taking place in the business sector as well. We want to be able to do business 24/7 and expect this to be possible. So we see that irrespective of the size of an organization, there is demand for mobile apps that allow us to work independent of time and place.”

In summary, it seems there is a significant need to empower employees in general, and sales people on the move in particular. They need the very latest information to best approach the opportunities in their pipelines. But in general, the majority are not making effective use of mobile technology.

Given the importance of taking chances when they arise, it’s become crucial that all businesses are working with the right technology – the most effective tools to help them stay ahead of the competition. And most employees feel that it’s their employers responsibility to ensure they’re provided with the right solutions.

This is a clear challenge for business owners. Does your company software support mobile access? If it does, are you making good use of it? If it doesn’t, can you afford not to reconsider your options?