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Supporting sales network using mobile devices

Most companies today use mobile solutions for improving the potential of their business or customer support. In a personal conversation with the customer, is still important to have all necessary data in a timely fashion, as well as the acceleration of closing of the deal right on the spot, completely and in a binding manner.

It has of course always been important, and various solutions (ranging from laptops, later connected via the Internet) attempted to find to a solution. Every businessman will agree that a critical part of success lies in having the current range of products always on hand and being able to flexibly pull out the right product datasheet, specified to the interest of the customer (and send it to his email box immediately) or at the moment when (especially B2C) the customer is ready to buy and being able to conclude the contract immediately and quickly.

Mobile technologies move these situations forward again. But what is often crucial for a mobile strategy?

Questions for utilisation of mobile potential by field workers

For a correct selection of a suitable solution it is appropriate to ask, among other things, the following sets of questions.

What are the possible usage scenarios?

Will it be a single-use, or is it better to consider more scenarios using a single mobile device?

On-line / off-line use

Will you need to use the device even where there is no, or only weak signal? Is signal critical for the application´s functionality? Or we should rather

The degree of complexity of the application

What size and weight of the device should be selected? How complex an application to run on it, so that it would not obstruct the interview and at the same time, for example, allow fast data upload, or so that it would be simple enough for being used by the customer as well (such as signing the order or documents summary )

Timeliness of documents/content

What is the scenario of updating the application content on the mobile device? If we imagine, for example, a product catalogue with more than 100 pages, how easy it would be to add or edit pages and collectively distribute them to the vendors mobile devices? Or price lists, or products on special?

Versioning of the application

Each mobile solutions will certainly be developing further – to add new features, improve control ergonomics, etc. How difficult the update and the distribution of the new version will be? Will it be possible to use the older version?

Which mobile platform?

Selecting one of the mobile technical platforms (iOS, Android, Windows) can be onerous, as it is difficult to anticipate the advantages and disadvantages of those platforms in the future. In addition, maintenance of the applications for multiple platforms is not cheap.

Controllability of rights/security

Mobile hardware can be easily lost or forgotten. Perhaps we would not want forgetfulness of an employee to cause a loss of a client database and subsequent damages to the company´s reputation, or even identity theft. Content and access security is therefore an important part of the solution.

Analysis of usage

If we invest in the acquisition of development solutions, we want to know how it is used and whether the investment is paying off. Usage statistics, up to the level of a particular document or seller, is therefore useful information.

 ipresent

Mobile applications, mobile web, or something in between?

Each solution has its advantages and disadvantages and the topic was handled in many articles (one example here). When we summarize the essential ones for each solution:

Native mobile applications (tablet and mobile phone)

+ Faster (less data is retrieved)
+ User-friendlier (mostly UX optimized)
+ up-to-date today
- Need to maintain multiple platforms (mostly Android, iOS)
- Lengthier distribution via AppStore (for iOS)

Mobile web

+ Independent of platforms (assuming RWD)
+ Content management capabilities by non-technical staff as well (assuming CMS)
- The need for online connection (field usage can be problematic)

From each, we would want to take the positives and eliminate the negatives. An ideal picture could therefore be:

  • Working on-line and off-line.
  • Marketing / trade personnel may manage the content by themselves – quickly and easily.
  • Easy and effective updates (both the application itself and its contents).
  • Versioning and backup content.
  • Security and system access rights.

iPresent – a hybrid solution

One possible solution is a mobile platform iPresent, developed by an American company, iPresent.com. It enables easy building of easily updatable, scalable, and manageable solutions for different mobile platforms using a single application. The basis is a product catalogue, around which you can create an ecosystem of various applications, which support various useful related agenda, such as:

  • Solution for direct sales – orders directly from the tablet, including the signature.
  • Simplified and therefore easy to handle in the field, connection to CRM and data transmission in both directions – only the important information about the customer, with the possibility of editing.
  • Various calculators and reports (eg. ROI).
  • Clear comparisons of properties of different products on offer, etc..

The advantages iPresent are

  • Zero cost of acquisition of the platform itself (only a monthly fee is payable).
  • Secure Data Backup on the iPresenter server.
  • Ability to manage access rights to various content sets (for example, only selected parts of the product catalogue for both viewing and administration).
  • Easy language extension (including upgrades and therefore used as a solution for multiple countries at once).

Version for iOS, Android and Windows Phone.

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Supporting sales network using mobile devices

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