A fresh crop of portable CRM applications is on tap from several top software developers that should give enterprises with increasingly mobile work forces more options to consider.
Siebel Systems Inc. and PeopleSoft Inc. are each readying customer relationship management applications for mobile computing, while E.piphany Inc. has developed a fully integrated suite of applications.
Its an open question, however, whether user demand will keep up with the technology improvements.
Siebel, of San Mateo, Calif., rolled out Siebel 7 Mobile last week, a suite of applications for field sales and services, channel partner management, and customer service. The software is accessible through virtually any wireless device with wireless messaging capabilities for alerts, recommendations and communications. On the same day, PeopleSoft, of Pleasanton, Calif., announced mobile sales and field service applications in its 8.4 release.
Siebels and PeopleSofts mobile efforts are focused mainly on data synchronization capabilities—allowing users to access applications while disconnected; update information on such handheld devices as personal digital assistants, wireless phones or disconnected laptops; then sync with the server when reconnected.
E.piphanys E.6 CRM suite, which incorporates existing synchronization capabilities, features improved integration among the disparate applications in the suite. This could make it easier to set up links between the applications and mobile users.
E.piphany E.6, due by months end, has been redesigned using Java 2 Enterprise Edition, tightening the back-end integration of its applications and providing better analytics to operational applications such as sales and customer service, said officials of the San Mateo company.
Seattle-based Expedia Inc. uses Version 5.5 of E.piphanys suite for its call center operations and related analytics and is considering using it with the companys Expedia To Go service for sending travel alerts and flight information to wireless devices.
"If we move that information into E.piphany, we can do a better job of tracking our customer contacts along with everything else we currently track to get a better view of the customer," said Jon Zimmerman, director of IT at the online travel site.
But some traditional users of wireless CRM, such as mobile sales personnel, may not be ready for expanded wireless CRM. Even Roger Siboni, CEO of E.piphany, is reluctant to promote E.6s wireless capabilities.
"Were still in the early days [of wireless CRM]," Siboni said. "The technologys still in the cradle."