BlackBerry harvests CRM


18 Nov 2003

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BlackBerry, the iconic mobile email device, has added customer relationship management (CRM) to its feature list following an agreement between Salesforce.com and RIM, the Canadian developer of the BlackBerry.

Salesforce.com customers are now able to access account and contact information, along with events and tasks, directly from Salesforce.com using a BlackBerry.

Current BlackBerry customers can acquire the CRM software by subscribing to Salesforce.com Wireless Edition or Enterprise Edition. According to Salesforce.com the connection is straightforward, requiring no server installation. Salesforce.com Wireless Edition connects users directly to their live Salesforce.com CRM system, so a local database is not required.

Salesforce.com Wireless Edition provides support for all BlackBerry wireless handhelds, including the new BlackBerry 7200 Series with colour screen.

“Wireless access to CRM data can improve a company’s productivity and drive competitive advantage,” commented Mark Guibert, vice-president, corporate marketing at Research In Motion. “By extending Salesforce.com’s CRM solution to mobile environments, sales teams can access time-sensitive customer data when they need it most and also input data where it’s easiest – in the field.”

The BlackBerry is distributed exclusively in Ireland by O2, which recently moved to rid the device of its corporate-only image by introducing a new version for smaller firms and individual buyers. This version does not require the user to have an IT infrastructure but can be set up for use on a single individual’s machine.

Commenting on the partnership with Salesforce.com, Paul Farrell, head of marketing, O2 Ireland, said: “We see it as a huge opportunity to push a joint initiative with Salesforce into the CRM space.”

O2’s introduction of CRM-on-BlackBerry follows hot on the heels of its launch of the XDA II, its other business-focused wireless handheld (as reported on siliconrepublic.com). According to Farrell, 02 is in discussions with four organisations covering the taxi, outdoor advertising, public service and retail sectors which between them are looking to deploy about 1,500 devices.

“The XDA is not in the PDA/mobile space. Its benefits are about enhancing the PC and the immediacy of data transfer,” he commented. He added that the inclusion of a digital camera on the XDA II is “proving to have more business applications than we originally anticipated” to the extent that demand for the XDA II is expected to be split about 60:40 between the business and high-end consumer or ‘executive toy’ market.

While O2 does not disclose the precise number of XDAs sold in the Irish market, it said that 64,000 have been sold in Ireland, the UK and Germany, the three markets in which the operator is active.

By Brian Skelly