#MobileCRM: Disappointed – part 5

That’s right, that’s how I feel at this moment. That’s the reason it took so long for me to write this article. I had such high hopes for the Dynamics CRM Mobile app. At first it looked like the Dynamics CRM Mobile app had it all:

  • native look and feel
  • cross platform (iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Windows 8)
  • unified experience –  pick up the tasks where you left off, on another device

But then the application is falling short in several areas:

  • Lack of customization
  • No scripting possibilities
  • No support for business rules.

Heck, I could have lived without the scripting possibilities, but not with a lack of business rule support. Without business rules, how can I guarantee that the data my users are entering is valid? How can I build sophisticated scenarios in which user interface adapts based on the data being entered? I’m not asking about enhanced business rules, the ordinary forms based rules would have been fine for me.

As long as there is no business rule support, I don’t see any point in using the mobile Dynamics CRM application. Now that’s a pity!
Personally, I believe that there is a bright future for CRM on mobile devices: Do your job, wherever you are, using whatever device. That’s the direction the world is heading to.

I believe the Dynamics CRM team should fix these problems and turn the Mobile Dynamics CRM app into a first class citizen. I really think Microsoft should take it a step further, I will explain how.

Get rid of the full blown CRM idea

CRM on a mobile client is not about all the bells and whistles Dynamics CRM is offering. Mobile CRM is about getting your job done on a small screen in an efficient matter. As a Mobile CRM user, you should be able to interact with both your customer and your device at the same time, without being annoying for the person you are talking to.

This means that the mobile CRM user should have an application tailored to the job he is doing. Which means: strip the functionality to it’s bare bones.

I envision this as follows:

As soon as I fire up the Mobile Dynamics CRM client, I want to get a screen in which I can jump directly to the tailored functionality I need to do my job. Even better, I would like to have shortcuts on the application launcher screen of the device as well, to start up the mobile client and then jump to the tailored functionality.

The tailored functionality only offers the screens and steps I need to do my job, whether it is delivering packages or doing an intake (I don’t care, the functionality should be there). The tailored functionality should support business rules to validate the data and to change the flow of the functionality (screens). The user should be taken through some sort of wizard user interface in which it is clear in which step of the process the user is in.

Just the data needed to do the job should be available. If the user has need for more data, then the user should be able to call Dynamics CRM to fetch the detailed data he needs (e.g. detailed contract information).

The tailored functionality should not mimic the full blown CRM environment. To put it in other words: For the user the mobile CRM app should look like it has been designed for the specific tasks only. Nothing more nothing less. The company that can deliver that experience is in my eyes king of the hill.

Be able to do your work any time any place

This means that all data the user needs should be on his mobile device. The current mobile client depends on an online connection to Dynamics CRM. This is the Achilles’ heel of the mobile client. Despite of all the commercials from telco’s, mobile data coverage is poor in large parts of the world. Even in a small country as the Netherlands with one of the best telecom infrastructures in the world, mobile data coverage in rural areas is terrible.

Therefor the user should be able to retrieve his data at the start of the day and be able to do most of his things that day without having a data connection available. It is no problem that functionality might degrade, but the bare essentials should keep on working.

Where does this put me now?

Where do I go from now? Isn’t there some scenario in which I can use the mobile Dynamics CRM client? At this moment I don’t have a good answer, still struggling to find some workarounds (I really want to like this product).

Perhaps I could use the standard mobile client for some very basic scenario’s but again that depends on the available budget. If money does not play a role, I would stay away from the standard mobile client until the points I described above are fixed (business rule support, scripting options) and look for other available solutions like e.g. the Resco solution.