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Mobile devices have become pervasive because they can change the nature of basic actions. That's been true in our personal lives, but it's also true for enterprise tasks, as well.
Consider sales reps who are on the go, or customer service agents: Having access to the most up-to-date information has always been of utmost importance. Knowledge of a customer's purchasing history and most recent contact and notes can drastically change the tone of an in-person meeting. Alternatively, arriving to a sales call and being unaware that the latest product shipment was returned due to an error in fulfillment could be embarrassing.
Additionally, the ability to update prospect or customer account records from the field is a major advantage, whether maintaining appropriate records in regard to fulfillment of contractual obligations or simply updating records while in transit. In 2013, Salesforce released its mobile Salesforce1 app, specifically to speak to this need.
Taking Salesforce mobile has many advantages, not the least of which is arming a mobile workforce with the tools it needs to sell on-site while visiting a customer. Salesforce released configure, price, quote -- or CPQ -- functionality via Salesforce1 upon completing the SteelBrick acquisition. Mobile workers can configure and price out product options while in a customer meeting, which can help resolve a customer's questions and promote a more interactive experience. Adding Salesforce Communities access to the mix extends the sales force out even further to partner networks. Industries in which reseller networks have commissioned reseller agencies, such as telecom and insurance, would find this functionality useful -- especially if the data were integrated with provisioning systems or fulfillment to close the loop on a transaction.
Mobile applications are also effective in the case of service agents. The ability to respond to cases and timestamp the service call from a mobile device would ensure compliance with contractual obligations. Photos of damaged products could be uploaded on-site. Signature capture could also promote customer experience and satisfaction. Geolocation services could be included to properly route service calls based on agent location as well, saving time and money in transportation costs between sites. A situation where a third party might deliver service would call on the Salesforce Community Cloud to access Salesforce data.
The mobile applications function much in the same way as the desktop version, from a user perspective. The license holder has access to standard objects like leads, accounts, contacts, opportunities and any custom objects created in the desktop organization to which the profile has access. A system administrator may make changes at any time in the desktop organization and apply them to the desktop and mobile user profile. It should be noted that some of the objects are read-only, including reports and dashboards. Others can be viewed or edited, but not created, as in the case of work orders.
Opening attachments can also create problems in the mobile experience, so having access to all your data might not be a reality in the truest sense. It should also be noted that user experience can vary depending on the operating system of the mobile device. An Android user may be able to track purchased products with assets, while the same user could not with an iPhone. This creates overhead from an administrative standpoint when a company supports multiple devices.
Some features are available in only the mobile Salesforce1 app. The ability to add a contact directly from your mobile phonebook can save time and data entry points, and direct access to your device's camera means an agent in the field can upload pictures while on-site. Numerous other mobile apps are also available for download from the Salesforce App Exchange to enhance the user experience.
One concern is the reality of when data is synced in the case of offline use. Salesforce1 gives the ability to cache data on demand for use while in airplane mode or when Internet access is unavailable. Conflicts arising from validation rules in data entry or in the case that records are being updated while the mobile device is offline are resolved via the conflict resolution tool. The tool displays one conflict at a time, and therefore, some attention should be paid consistently to the process to keep data as up to date as possible.
The Salesforce1 app is released for free download and is supported by the most widely held Salesforce editions, Database.com being the exception. Multiple license types are also supported, but the greatest efficacy in use can be seen among Salesforce, Community, Chatter and Force.com licenses. Most widely owned and recent version mobile devices are supported as well, including Windows, Apple, BlackBerry and Android.
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