Enterprise mobile software provider DoubleDutch today announced the release of its newest product, a mobile customer relationship management tool called Hive. Mobile CRM is a tricky needle to try and thread – for the most part, effective CRM is all about context, and providing the right amount on a mobile screen where screen real estate is limited and data input is cumbersome can be a challenge. Go too far to either end of the spectrum – feature-richness or simplicity – and you’re likely to meet with lackluster engagement. But DoubleDutch thinks Hive hits the mark in terms of providing a genuinely useful product that doesn’t get bogged down by trying to mimic a desktop tool.
Hive is designed to work with existing leading CRM tools already in place in many organizations, and launches with Salesforce integration out of the gate. What it wants to address is the gap between Salesforce’s success among administrators and its continued challenges in terms of getting front-line sales staff to use it regularly. In an interview, DoubleDutch CEO and founder Lawrence Coburn suggested that Hive’s ultimate goal is to drive that front-line engagement, using a number of strategies.
“There CRM systems are very powerful, they were made for a desktop-first world,” Coburn said in an interview. “Salespeople don’t like to use them at all, and they especially don’t like to use them on their mobile phones. If you’ve ever played with Salesforce mobile, it’s almost impossible to use.”
First, the app is all about simplicity and speed. Users aren’t inundated with every field Salesforce suggests they fill out when profiling a contact or a point of interaction; instead, they’re presented with a customizable subset of important details that make the most sense for the context. So if fax number isn’t relevant, that’s not something users will see. And navigation is designed to offer no lag, and to smoothly switch between screens in a way that makes using it as inconvenient as possible.
There are also a number of value-add features designed to draw users back into the Hive app once they’ve left. The app provides geofenced reminders around customer sites and locations, reminding them to check-in when they make a call or visit. Logging can then happen in one tap, making capture of those kinds of events much more likely.
Meeting notices are also dramatically improved, providing contextual and background information 15 minutes before a call so that staff can quickly get up to speed in advance of a meeting and be reminded of who it is they’re talking to and why. Plus, on Android devices, information like calls and emails are automatically logged. Coburn says they’re working on ways to bring similar functionality to the Hive iOS app, but it’s more difficult because of the tighter restrictions Apple places on access to phone services on the iPhone.
DoubleDutch plans to introduce a number of additional integrations, starting with more cloud-friendly CRM systems and eventually looking at what they can do to get plugged into the bigger players like SAP and Oracle. Hive is a solid offering with smart design, but as mentioned above, delivering effective CRM on a mobile platform is a tightrope walk, so we’ll see if it manages to strike a balance that resonates with front-line staff.