Sales Force Automation
Salespeople were among the first professionals to embrace the PDA. This probably has something to do with the sheer volume of contact information and task lists that drive the day-to-day life of the typical sales professional. Tracking opportunities, making deals, and staying in touch with contacts are all areas in which mobile automation can lend a hand. Some of the workflows that can be automated include the following:
Making sales calls (both scheduling and information access during the call)
Communicating with the office, contacts, and other sales professionals
Accessing client details, history, and opportunities
AvantGo Mobile SFA
AvantGo made its name by offering synchronized news and information services to Palm users. Since then, it has changed direction to focus on the enterprise market and offer a number of solutions for the mobile worker. AvantGo's Mobile Sales product integrates with leading Sales Force Automation (SFA) applications from Siebel, Peoplesoft, and Oracle; and provides access for Palm, RIM Blackberry, and Pocket PC users (see Figure 3). Other important features include the ability to work in a standalone mode when outside wireless coverage areas and the ability to access inventory, customer service, and product pricing data. Instant wireless communications round out this offering. By integrating this product with AvantGo's M-Business Server, you can synchronize contact and calendar data with Microsoft Exchange or Lotus Notes.
Figure 3 AvantGo Mobile Sales on a Pocket PC.
Unlike the FieldCentrix ASP solution, you can deploy the AvantGo products on your own infrastructure. They run on Windows server platforms, including Windows NT and 2000. It is up to you to choose the devices and wireless network access that makes sense in your sales territories. This solution makes sense if you have an IT department that can deal with these issues or can work with a suitable consulting firm.