There is no question that “consumerization of IT” has had a tremendous impact on businesses, led largely by the popularity of the iPad. Although some organizations may treat this shift as a burden – yet another set of devices that must be procured, governed, secured, and managed; others are seeing the new devices as an incredible opportunity for innovation.
One particular use case we have seen over and over again embracing this shift is Field Sales & Marketing. From medical device manufacturers, to financial services, to consumer packaged goods; nearly all businesses have a work force remotely selling and marketing their products. Traditionally, these products have been sold via paper – sales brochures, product catalogs, customer statements, quoting forms, etc. The financial adviser that comes into your home, or the medical device rep walking through a hospital, has relied on a briefcase of paperwork describing the products that they sell.
With the emergence of the iPad, innovative organizations have seen an opportunity to get rid of the paper while providing a “wow” factor for future customers. Instead of walking a customer through paper forms, field sales reps are providing an immersive experience for customers to learn about their products (and often buy those products).
A Best Practice Approach
From our experiences, the following principals represent a set of best practices to help guide a delivery effort:
1) Build an app and emphasize user experience – Mobile Apps vs. Mobile Web is a very interesting debate. However, in this case, field sales are best fit into an app framework (whether natively written or through a cross platform HTML5-based solution). An app allows the user experience to be maximized, which is critical when making an impression on potential new customers. Further, an app provides the easiest support for offline access – allowing data to be synched and stored locally so the field rep is not relying on internet connectivity.
2) Utilize your existing Enterprise Content Management system - You have made significant investment in your existing CMS – Microsoft SharePoint, Adobe CQ, etc. These solutions solve the content problem – storing, versioning, searching, publishing, approving, and securing content. There is no need to “re-invent the wheel”. In our experience, development time is significantly reduced by integrating with an existing server-side CMS, while overall supportability is increased. Through this approach, it is very easy to introduce and secure new content, as well as make changes to existing content, without rolling out application updates.
3) Consider a Mobile Device Management (MDM) solution – MDM tools such as AirWatch and Mobielron allow IT to manage the devices in the field. These solutions provide “remote wipe” capability, which handles the scenario when a device is lost or stolen with propriety or customer data. Also, since these internal apps are not going to be deployed to the public app stores, these solutions provide a seamless way to build your own internal app store for simply deployment of applications and updates.
With our deep knowledge of Mobile, User Experience Design, and ECM/WEM (SharePoint/Adobe CQ); Cardinal is an ideal partner to address your mobile field sales needs. If you are interested in deep-diving on customer success stories, send me an email.