CRM for the iPad - Part 2

When I announced the contest for iPad CRM applications (at least from your mind's eye) about a month ago, one thing I didn't expect was the speed that vendors would jump on the iPad development bandwagon.Since my announcement: NetSuite showed an iPad application developed by a partner, Iron Solutions, for the agricultural equipment industry at their April 14 launch in San Francisco.
Written by Paul Greenberg on

When I announced the contest for iPad CRM applications (at least from your mind's eye) about a month ago, one thing I didn't expect was the speed that vendors would jump on the iPad development bandwagon.

Since my announcement:

  1. NetSuite showed an iPad application developed by a partner, Iron Solutions, for the agricultural equipment industry at their April 14 launch in San Francisco. It was a surprisingly good first take for an iPad app and did something that wasn't how I would conceive this device being used. NetSuite also has an iPhone app for its own solution that is now compatible with the iPad
  2. Earlier that same day, SugarCRM showed a native iPad app for SugarCRM that they launched at their annual SugarCon user conference.
  3. On April 20, Oracle announced support for the iPad by combining their Siebel driven REST API with the Apple iPad OS SDK.  One thing I have to say is that Siebel is turning out to be a surprisingly versatile development tool for contemporary social capabilities. They are never ceasing to surprise at this point. Not all where I expected this stuff to come from. Here's a look at a Oracle/Siebel iPad app as demonstrated:

3. I know of at least one other significant CRM player who is working on the iPad as a delivery device for their powerful business applications set. No, its not salesforce.com. They've been surprising quiet on this front.

Now on to the voting.


The game plan here is this.  I'm going ask your opinion in two ways. First about which of 4 choices makes the most business sense to you.  Then which of the same exact 4 choices seems the coolest to you.  Needless to say, unless you think business sense is entirely the coolest thing EVER, they don't have to be the same but can be of course.  Due to space limitations for how long an answer can be I'm going to post the suggestion in its entirety and then underneath as much of the name as I know for who made the suggestion.  Please vote for the name in the poll answers..  The winner gets the $50.00 Amazon gift certificate. I'm leaving this up for the month of May so vote like crazy.  The poll will open Monday May 3 and close on May 31.  Even if the vote is 2 to 1 (weighted points) there will be a winner.  I urge you to vote.  Here goes.

Mark Tamis

I think the iPad is a perfect device for facilitating a frictionless customer experience in for example food & beverage. Say you want to have a quick bite @ McDonald's (or Starbucks or whatever). You walk in the store, bluetooth picks up on this and activates an app that allows you to order at the quick order line, or you choose to connect to the store's wifi through that app.

The app looks at your favorite items and pre-selects if you so wish. You validate and use a micropayment system such as PayPal and the app signals when your order is ready so you can go get it at the quick order line. The shop assistant scans the 3D bar code generated by the app to validate the order.

Whilst you're having your meal, you can choose your favorite magazine, TV show or content unique to the restaurant and have that streamed to the iPad whilst you're having your drink or meal. You can also provide feedback to the restaurant through the app.

Potentially you could also choose to seek out 'people like me' in the restaurant to make contact and hook up (taken from FB or whatever as per your permission). You have a more frictionless experience, be entertained without hitting your carrier's data limit, and have a chance to share the experience with others like you - make new friends!

The restaurant has fewer and shorter lines, faster order delivery, an insight into your consumption habits and as well as your lifestyle through the content you choose.

thought of this because I think that rather than focus on the benefit the tool can bring to the company, you should focus on the opportunities of bringing new value to the customer beyond your basic products/services.

"Don't ask what the customer can do for you, but what you can do for your customer" happy


My idea would be to provide convergence of several  local government CRM and ERP solutions that are out there. Currently, local governments provide a number  of services that include planning, building plan check, code enforcement, economic development,  street/sidewalk repair and maintenance, traffic controls, police and fire to name a few. Right now,  all of those various functions are managed by software  systems that don't talk to each other very well, and  that are not great in the field. For instance, building inspection involves an inspector going to a job site carrying 20 lbs of paper plans, taking notes, entering the notes in a database, review of the notes by a plan checker, adjustments to plans... all before the contractor/architect can resume work on any part of a structure that has problems. Imagine if a plan checker with an iPad could pull up the electronic plans, make notes on the plans in the cloud, notify a plan checker and receive a response within hours rather than days?

Economic development people interact with existing businesses constantly and frequently run into problems that range from potholes to crime. Imagine if when meeting with a business that had an issue with traffic for instance. The economic development person could enter the info about the issue, location of the issue and appropriate contacts at the business and have that info go directly to the appropriate people at public works who would then be forced to respond to clear the issue out of a to-do list. As an economic development person, I find myself spending several hours a week following up on customer service issues that a system like this would fix.

If someone could find a way to meld the existing (or create new) CRM, ERP, GPS and 311 systems that cities use and include a web enabled iPad application everything from graffiti abatement to water bills could live in one place and allow our very stressed  employees to realize some efficiencies, improve  customer service, improve responsiveness and allow  cities to learn more about the locational component of everything we do (by integrating with GPS). I think something like the iPad, with its unique footprint, OS and interface is the key to getting this sort of thing done. You can do the building inspection on a toughbook right now, but it isn't very well designed in terms of interface, so all the inspectors carry around plans. Same for interviewing businesses... it isn't very friendly to put a screen between you and your customer while you are talking to them. Fire departments could pull up building plans while standing in front of a burning building (same for police). Just a little bit of imagination and someone could revolutionize this market and reduce complaints about local government by 50% (30% of people will never be happy, no matter what!).

Aldux at the Carlisle House

My wife and I own a bed and breakfast, and our booking engine is web-based. We have a phone system that forwards all incoming calls to our iPhones, and thus we do not miss any reservations (at $150 to $240 each). We CAN use the iPhone to enter the reservations, however the additional screen space of the iPad will make our life much simpler.

We can check availability, accept the reservation, send a confirmation email, use it as a marketing tool to show full-screen pictures of our B&B to anybody who is remotely interested, bring up our guest reviews on TripAdvisor.com to show what our guests think (TA rates us the #1 B&B in PA), and do all of this anywhere there is an AT&T signal.

Our website is programmed (by me) in pure html with a little javascript and has optimized images so that it loads quickly even on the Edge network, never mind 3G.

Really I can think of so many business applications just with the web access, never mind iWorks (which I find more than adequate for my needs).

Esteban Kolsky

The CRM app you are looking for has to actually leverage the unique features and functions of the iPad - not just a bigger screen.

So, what are these characteristics?

1. ability to run HTML-4 and HTML-5 apps without zooming in and out constantly 2. ability to run iWork apps 3. ability to integrate seamlessly, effortlessly, and amazingly with multi-media 4. ability to draw, take-notes, and manipulate images and content without using a keyboard, simply by using the screen and the tools you indicated above (plus others) 5. ability to run very specialized apps, very fast refresh screen, and very incredible graphics engine

I could go on, but you are getting the idea. Now, I know this is not going to blow you away -- but this is the Sales workstation we always wanted and tried to replicate (and never got quite right) in laptops. What else could a sales person want that being able to use a touch-screen (instead of a keyboard) to share the screen with the customer? demos? check, video and online. note-taking? check, update records in CRM or other systems? check, catalog and price books -- with very nice pictures and even video? check, community access to solve problems for customers? check, i could go on... but, again, you see how it works.

This is, to me, the business justification. the difference between using this an a laptop / other tablet is that the speed in this one is incredible, the battery life amazing, and the integration between apps very well done (not to mention the apps themselves).

Your Choices

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