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Buyer's Guide

by Craig Borowski,
Market Research Associate
Last Updated: March 27, 2017

Enterprises are expected to significantly increase their adoption of tablets in the coming years, according to recent analyst reports predicting business buyers will represent 18 percent of overall tablet sales by 2017. With its sleek design and intuitive user interface (UI), it’s no surprise that Apple’s iPad is still paving the way for this trend; particularly among sales, marketing and field service professionals.

For these reasons, customer relationship management (CRM) software vendors have developed many iPad-compatible systems. In this guide, we’ll provide an overview of technology in this category, including the most common deployment models and common features of native iPad CRM apps.

iPad CRM Deployment Models

CRM iPad apps can be delivered through several deployment models. Each comes with its own benefits and potential drawbacks. These deployment models include:

  • Web-based CRMs. With this model, users would log into the system via an online portal accessed through the tablet’s Web browser. These Web-based solutions often utilize a mobile responsive design, so they are catered to the mobile experience. However, they are not made specifically to work in concert with iPad-specific functionality.
  • Remote access CRMs. While increasingly uncommon, some companies that use client/server CRM systems hosted on their own servers will enable mobile access via a remote utility (e.g., Citrix). This is not ideal, but it allows companies using an on-premise solution to access their software on a mobile device.
  • Native CRM app for iPad. These systems provide the most ideal experience for using CRM features on the go. The best CRM apps for iPads will cater their capabilities specifically to the iPad experience; meaning as little typing as possible, in favor of swiping, tapping and pinch movements. While these apps are designed to maximize efficiency on a tablet, they often limit capabilities to a few core features. The user would still need to use a desktop version to access the full range of features.

Popular Features in Native App

We mentioned that native CRM iPad apps often limit capabilities to a few core features—this is due in part to developers’ desire to streamline the interface for the mobile experience. However, this is also done because the kinds of activities sales, marketing and field services professionals perform in the field are often different from the work they do in the office.

SugarCRM iPad App

Screenshot of SugarCRM iPad app

Sales representatives, for example, likely need more features for delivering presentations in client meetings. Similarly, field service professionals need more tools for completing work orders, accepting payments and planning their route while working out of the office. Here’s a summary of a few of the most-common features for native CRM ipad apps.


Data synchronization Ensures data entered in the field (notes, new opportunities, work orders etc.) synchronizes in real-time with your Web-based CRM system. This ensures that everyone on your team has a single view of every contact that is always up-to-date with the latest action. Microsoft Dynamics CRM
Task management These tools allow users to create and manage task lists on the go. Often, this feature is integrated with the device’s calendar, so important to-dos pop up as automated push notifications on the device. Base CRM, Oracle On Demand
Capture signatures Many iPad CRM applications allow users to accept signatures virtually. Customers can simply use their fingers to sign their name on the iPad. Important forms such as receipts and sales orders can then instantly be converted to PDF. Routzy, FieldOne Mobile
Visit planning Connects appointments on your calendar with account information in the CRM database. This way, when users are preparing for a meeting, they simply click from an at-a-glance view of their schedule to a contact profile. Or, some apps display contact history directly in the calendar. CRM.pad, Salesforce Touch

Sales and Marketing

Account locator This feature enables users to find leads, contacts and opportunities near their current location. They use the device’s GPS-enabled maps to pinpoint accounts in a 10 to 100 mile radius. This allows users to optimize their route based on where they are relative to each account. ZOHO, Routzy, Base CRM
Coaching push notifications This refers to push notifications that can be sent to sales representatives in the field based on a status change of a current opportunity in the pipeline. For example, if someone in the office just got off the phone with a potential client who sounded really interested, they could send a push notification to a rep that is near that account to go close the deal in person. Base CRM
Sales orders These features allow sales reps to easily create and send sales orders while in the field. Often, these tools can instantly email customers an order confirmation email. Also, users can attach photos to orders and scan SKUs and barcodes. Sybase, Handshake Sales Rep Order
Virtual catalogue Instead of carrying hard sales and marketing assets, many apps will provide tools for presenting these virtually. These presentations might allow the user to flip pages, just as they would a brochure. They could also be updated in real-time in cases where people in the office make changes while the marketing or sales rep is in the field. Temovo, Fatstax

Field Service

Work orders This feature enables users to easily record work orders regarding services delivered in the field. This includes recording materials used on the job, photo annotations and other documentation. This process is catered to the mobile experience by leveraging drop-down menus, autofill, audio and other tools meant to limit typing. iNotes CRM, FieldOne Mobile
Job order push notifications These features allow dispatchers in the office to push notifications to technicians in the field when there is a change to a job order, or a change to their route based on new, higher priority jobs. These notifications will pop-up as an alert, and can be delivered with optimized driving directions. FieldOne Mobile
Invoicing & payment processing These features allow field service agents to quickly create invoices for work delivered in the field. These invoices can immediately be emailed to the customer, as well as delivered to administrative staff in the office. Often, users can also use these features to directly process customer payments. Intuit Field Service Management

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