The mobile revolution that has transformed our lives as consumers is transforming the way enterprises now manage their operations and engage with employees, partners and customers.
As I was thinking through on Mobility and demise of the older ways of doing Mobile solutions for Apps, I was wondering how much of it has affected me as a CRM consultant seeing Dynamics CRM evolve to be more mobile. Mobility is no more a talk about future rather a talk of present and towards future. I have been working on some of the most challenging extensions to CRM as well which should work on IPAD, Surface, IPhone, Windows phone, etc.
In this blog, I am going to talk about considerations required for designing Mobile Business application around Dynamics CRM.
As the business grapples with the transition from “I need an app for that” to a “mobile is how I do business” or a mobile-first mind-set, they are faced with the complexity of developing and managing multiple apps across the whole organization, across multiple device platforms all connecting to CRM system.
This multiplicity begs a Mobile Application Platform approach where development, deployment and monitoring of mobile apps, whether B2C or B2B, can be managed in a secure, agile and collaborative way across the organization.
In 2012, Gartner proposed the “Rule of Three” as an indication of the need of an approach for Mobile application development:
1. Do you need to support 3 or more mobile applications?
2. Do you need to support 3 or more mobile operating systems?
3. Do you need to integrate with at least 3 back-end data sources?
This are the most basic requirements to make a decision that you need a methodology to take care of Mobile Application development.
Some other considerations are more important in terms of CRM and technical know-hows:
1. Do you have a company-wide mobile strategy?
2. Are you supporting more than one type of app – native iOS, native Android, native Windows Phone, hybrid, web, HTML5?
3. Are you developing B2C and B2E apps across different departments?
4. Is your IT department struggling with managing and controlling the security of CRM data being accessed by mobile applications?
5. Is it difficult to balance agile development in CRM with mobile applications around it?
If the answers to majority of the questions above are yes, your company or your client is definitely facing issues trying to manager mobility around CRM.
Some keys to have a good approach in place are:
Mobile app projects demand rapid innovation and short iterative development cycles. A cloud hosted approach like Azure might support your organisation in the best way. Looking for open technology stacks also helps faster development.
The key here is to take developers into account and see the tools they are most comfortable with.
· Are the range of devices and platforms supported? :
The range of mobile devices, form factors and operating systems is continuously evolving. Besides this, different parts of the business have different requirements (B2C, B2B, B2E etc.) that drive the need for different types of apps – hybrid, native, HTML5 or web apps.
· Secure Integration:
How secure is the platform. Will the devices be secure enough? One strategy is to lock down the apps that are put on the mobile devices. Another involved moving to more secure authentication systems like WAP. It should be within the
Cloud, between the cloud and the mobile device and on device – including devices your company doesn’t own.
· Extensibility and Portability:
Given a new version of platform or device, how extensible is the approach going to be?
· Scalability & Availability:
How will the platform handle app scaling and ensure availability?
· App Usage:
Ways to measure how much mobile application usage if for end user, this come at a later stage but should be definitely planned at the start of development.
In the last two years I have been designing and developing at least 4 mobile applications integrating with Dynamics CRM and other systems, which makes me say that such applications are becoming a big reality for me as a Consultant.
Hope it helps!