Owning the Problem
Posted: 09.01.05 - By Teresa von Fuchs

Mobile Enterprise: On the cover of your latest press kit it says: “Browser-based CRM solutions just don’t work.” What do you mean by that?

Peter Semmelhack: The other tagline we came up with was: “CRM without mobility is a glass half empty.” We’ve been told by a number of our customers that only through mobility have they really been able to achieve the ROI that they had anticipated when they made the investment in CRM. Typically, customer data is kept behind a firewall beyond the reach of a guy out in the field. Now companies are asking, “Why not empower salespeople and give them all the data that they need [in the field]?” So this trend of CRM going through the Web is now moving into mobility.

ME: What would you say are the key parts of the
A3 solution?

PS: Our product is called A3 and the “three” stands for the three distinct areas that need to be addressed if you’re going to roll out a successful mobile enterprise solution. The three areas are: an application that connects to a backend system; the connectivity between the backend system and the devices; and the application that resides on the device. You’ll find plenty of companies that will connect the backend to a device, but that’s the easy stuff. The hard part is making sure that the applications work in environments that are multi-device, multi-carrier and, let’s face it, in environments that are not terribly reliable. Dropping a call is one thing, but dropping a transaction in the middle is a much different situation.

Take that and compound it by 5,000 users across 40 or 50 different carriers and you begin to see the dimensions of the problems that can occur. Take the example of a service rep in the field with a PDA that stops working. Think about the troubleshooting process; it could be a hardware problem, a problem with the application, a connectivity problem, a network issue, etc. There are lots and lots of places where this could fail, and in our experience there have not been any IT organizations that have the staff or the stomach to try to solve all these things.

One of our core values is that we own the problem; the guy in the field calls us directly. Then we can diagnose the device because we understand devices, we can diagnose the application because we wrote the applications. We also have an enormous amount of visibility and diagnostic capability as to where within the network cloud a failure occurred and why it failed.

One thing we’ll never say is, “Sorry, network’s down, you’re out of luck.” Instead, it’s, “The network might be down, here are your options: A, B or C.” The mobile enterprise right now involves many moving pieces, and that unsettles IT execs because IT doesn’t like uncertainty. We provide a sort of black box approach to addressing a lot of these moving pieces. •


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