Our customers demand mobility for Dynamics CRM. Microsoft knows this. Other partners know this. But the choice remains cloudy. What are the options? How much will it cost? Is it worth the extra investment? Should I go third party or wait for Microsoft to tell their mobility story? Can I afford to wait? I spent the long weekend in Las Vegas at eXtreme CRM getting to the bottom of this.

First up were 2 days of CWR Mobility training. I was thrilled to be attending, deepening the New Signature partnership with CWR, and expanding our Dynamics CRM story. Deploying and configuring CWR, while characteristically tedious like most technical tasks, could not be simpler. Functionally, the app gives you the basics: records, fields, related records, activities, etc. The challenges I faced were two-fold: a troubling user experience, do to a challenging online/offline modes, and a complex architecture. Rather than a single line of communication from app to Dynamics CRM web services, CWR uses an additional server, which Michael Rich, CWR Technical Sales, says is “more scalable and more secure for enterprise deployments.”

After two long days (and a couple long nights… it is Vegas after all), I was spinning a bit. The product demos of CWR were solid. Their staff is fantastic. But how do I sell this to my customers knowing New Signature demands an incredible customer experience? Before we focused on CWR, I had heard through the grapevine of two other Dynamics CRM Mobile providers: TenDigits and Resco. I had to dig in.

I looked around for TenDigits,but the rumor is they have stopped development after Microsoft Dynamics CRM Mobile was announced and were therefore not at the conference. I called both their sales and service lines repeatedly and never got through.The last bit of news on their site is from nearly a year ago. Dead end.

Next option: Resco. I had heard good things, but given our blossoming relationship with CWR, I did not look into it. There they were, a booth full of technologies and technologists. Ivan Stano and Lukas Lesko were phenomenal. I tried out their Android app in the booth. Intrigued, I downloaded the iPhone app to my 4s, connected it to the New Signature instance and it worked like a charm! I have some concerns about the mapping features (requires longitude and latitude), but in all, I am a happy man.

So let’s see how these solutions stack up:

Category Resco Standard Resco Enterprise CWR Mobility Professional TenDigits
Price Free $19.99 per user per month $22.50 per user per month ?
Standard Entities Yes Yes Yes ?
Configuration and Custom Entities No Easy through Configurator Tedious through Configurator ?
Activity Feeds Yes Yes No ?
Maps Coordinate-Based Coordinate-Based Address-based ?
Photo and Signature Capture Yes Yes No ?
Architecture Standalone App App + Configurator CWR Standalone Server + ?
SDK, Javascript and HTML 5 No Yes No ?
Offline mode Yes Yes Yes ?
Online mode Yes Yes Yes, though reverts to offline by design (awkward) ?
Platforms Supported All but Blackberry All but Blackberry All including Blackberry ?

The mobility space is an exciting one where the only constant in change. This summer it seemed CWR would be the only player in town. Now we have two great solutions. The edge goes to Resco for now, but there’s still a place for CWR if native maps or Blackberries are required. New Signature is looking forward to working with both of these great companies and continuing to bring excellent mobile CRM solutions to market!

Note: New Signature made revisions to this article. CWR Mobility is $22.50 per user per month, not $30 as originally stated. Also, CWR supports not only BlackBerry, but also iPhone, iPad, Windows Phone 7, Android Phone, Android Tablet, and soon Windows 8 devices.