Whenever we present content on mobile marketing—such as our recent PRO Seminar on location-based marketing, CK Kerley's class on mobile marketing that was part of our Content Marketing Crash Course, or Dan Lowden's class on the subject for Websites That Work—we frequently get the question: What are the B2B applications?
The question makes sense because mobile marketing seems to be most effective when it's built into a store experience or focused on coupons and discounts for consumer goods. While such tactics could be applicable to the trade show environment, trade shows are not at the center of B2B marketing. So, B2B marketers are left thinking, "This sounds cool, but it's just not for me."
Reflecting on the question, I've often wondered if there were some other way that B2B marketers could be thinking about mobile and, specifically, if it didn't perhaps have overlooked or untapped applications within the enterprise itself.
For example, what if B2B marketers were using mobile apps to provide sales folk, who may well be delivering presentations to prospective clients via an iPad, access to critical or "just-in-time" information while they're at the client site?
Or, because getting sales people to input data can be notoriously difficult, what if they had an app that allowed them to connect to the CRM on the go or in real time so that data capture wasn't an afterthought or, worse, totally neglected?
It turns out that I'm not the only one thinking about apps in the enterprise and, in fact, they've been around for a while (at least at IBM). To get me (and you!) up to speed on the potential for apps in the enterprise and the rise of the internal app store (or "catalogue"---apparently Apple has a trademark on the term "app store"), I invited Cimarron Buser of Apperian to talk with me on Marketing Smarts.
As our conversation highlights, there are at least three things you should take into account when considering how you might leverage mobility within the enterprise in support of your marketing efforts:
1. It's Only Getting Easier
Many enterprise tools, such as Salesforce, already have a basic app that you can deploy internally. Now, even more importantly, the tool makers are also developing and promoting APIs that greatly simplify the process of building custom apps.
2. Employees Expect Mobile Support
As we move deeper into a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and mobile-optimized workplace, Cimarron says, employees "come in expecting to connect to the corporate email, to the corporate calendar, and they want applications to make their life easier." What's more, employees are used to the app store metaphor and the process of installing and configuring their own apps, which means that they need a lot less hand-holding than in the olden days (like, five years ago!).
3. The Possibilities Are Endless
In addition to the functional apps you'd expect to find in the enterprise (email, CRM, etc.), there is an unending amount of content that could be delivered via an app (videos, PDFs, demos, etc.) or "appified." These possibilities point to new ways that marketing and IT can collaborate within the enterprise, first in terms of helping identify good app candidates, and then in terms of naming, branding, and promoting internal apps.
So, is your company taking advantage of internal mobility? If not, how could apps help you do your job?