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Preview: Mobile Express for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0

We work all the time and everywhere. Getting information, giving information, communicating and keeping up. It is only natural that an application designed for letting businesses connect with their customers should be capable of working anywhere and anytime too.

This week, we released a preview of Mobile Express for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0. No one should think that this is the start or the finish of Microsoft Dynamics CRM mobility though. As we’ve looked at the needs for mobile CRM we’ve see not one experience but many experiences – we think that there are as many ways to take CRM mobile as there are uses of CRM. Mobile Express is one of those experiences.

Mobile Express for Microsoft Dynamics CRM provides users with a Web based CRM client that works on any HTML rendering device, small or large. The user interface can be customized to show only the types of objects that an organization wants to expose to mobile users. We see this choice working well for organizations with remote users who are frequently connected to a network and who may not need constant access to their CRM data but who want to have the flexibility to call it up when needed.

One of the interesting things that we’ve seen over the last few years is the desire to “never give a laptop computer to a sales person again” (an actual customer’s words). For organizations like this, a rich client on a smart device makes a lot of sense. Independent software vendors make full Microsoft Dynamics CRM applications for Windows Mobile (TenDigits, CWR Mobility, ADC), RIM Blackberry devices (TenDigits), the iPhone (softBridge) and Nokia phones (CRMMobile+). These applications typically have offline capabilities and can act as full PC replacements for some workers. I love these rich clients because while they have a broad range of CRM capabilities they can also be tailored to the specific needs of the jobs that people are doing with them.

And while I don’t expect too many people to be pulling out the Windows Mobile SDK to build their own mobile applications, building your own mobile solution may be cost effective and provide you with the best solution. In cases where there is a very limited set of tasks that users need to perform, special device functionality is needed or where you have development expertise in house, a bespoke solution can make sense. The solution could be as simple as e-mail alerts sent to mobile users or as complex as a .NET Compact Framework client. And some organizations are taking a mixed approach here: building an application for some users and purchasing one for others.

You can download the Mobile Express for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 Preview and give us feedback through newsgroups at:

https://connect.microsoft.com/site/sitehome.aspx?SiteID=624

Barry Givens

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