Enterprise mobility benefits
By Don Herana
Last updated 08:24pm (Mla time) 10/04/2006
THERE is no doubt that through every IT revolution there’s this one defining technology that has changed the way we work, learn and communicate. As we progressed through the ages, businesses have evolved with each of these technologies. For instance, if we look at what IT revolutionary stage we are in this decade, we can say that it is the age of enterprise mobility.
The signs are obvious: Information is what makes modern companies run. And as workers become more mobile, companies must provide information to those workers on-the-go and vice versa for better collaboration. Mobile data devices such as light weight notebooks, smart cell phone devices with data capability, Personal Digital Assistant, Enterprise Digital Assistants (EDA) – a device more durable than a PDA with added functionalities, and “ruggedized” special purpose portable devices for use by field personnel or for use in manufacturing plants, warehouses, field transport and logistics, etc.
Most associates have several ways of obtaining the information they need. Access to back-end systems — such as CRM, ERP, financial reports, and databases — is critical and most associates today rely on an interrelationship with fellow associates or systems within the organization to provide them with the needed information. This is where enterprise mobility using mobile computing sets in.
Enterprise mobility is having the ability to capture and deliver information at the point of activity securely and accurately. Enterprise mobility is more than pushing information from one place to another. It is the bi-directional flow of information that sets it apart from a simple activity such as looking up the latest news on your phone. It is the transfer of mission-critical information that enables you to have access to the information you need, when you need it.
Enterprise mobility solutions have become easier to implement and manage. More often, these are being implemented across vertical industries like manufacturing, warehousing, wholesale distribution, transport and logistics, retail, healthcare, among others. Even horizontal industries can reap the benefits of enterprise mobility through sales force automation, direct sales delivery automation, field force automation and asset inventory management.
Enterprise mobility is important because no matter what industry you are in, having mission-critical information available when and where you need it increases productivity and creates competitive advantage. Better decisions can be made more efficiently because the information you need is at your fingertips, not at the office, in the data center or constrained by wired networks. Information has virtually no use when locked within supply chains or lags behind real time. Enterprise mobility creates a closed loop of information.
Business benefits of mobile computing
Enabling or enhancing an organization’s mobile workforce can have a major beneficial impact. Companies must create a strategy for the short and long term of implementing next generation mobile technologies in order to substantially increase the productivity and operational efficiency of their associates and ultimately, the organizations effectiveness.
Mobile computing is streamlining processes through automation that will minimize or even eliminate errors experienced on manual processes. Other benefits include faster decision making through real time information visibility, better customer service and support that will lead to customer satisfaction, increased competitiveness, improved asset utilization and the elimination of information delays inherent in a manual approach. Ultimately, for companies, the business benefits of mobile computing are the things that matter most: increased sales, increased profitability, and reduced costs.
Ideally, mobile business processes enable end users to access multiple business operation systems, like ERP, Supply Chain, Financials, Document Management and others. The result for the end-user is the ability to transact the right information at the point-of work.
Achieving the benefits of enterprise mobility is not easy. As you move up the curve from a fixed device, to a portable device and onto a mobile device the business benefit goes through the roof, but the application demands also increase. More factors are introduced that require technical integration because mobile applications behave differently than those on a fixed network.
Mobile computing components
Mobile computing solutions consist of three main components:
1) Mobile computing devices with barcode scanning capability and image capture, data entry options such as keypad and touchpad, form factors such as gun type (for scan intensive usage) or handheld devices, ruggedized or durable devices that can withstand multiple drops on a concrete or carpeted floor.
Companies must assess what devices are best fit for various classes of users based on job function, information requirements, collaboration needs, connectivity options, security, etc. Companies should also review the needs based on durability factors necessary for devices and peripherals (fully rugged, splash proof, enterprise durable, consumer grade). Companies must insure some level of flexibility and choice in deploying devices to the mobile workforce.
2) Application software with a choice of mobile computing operating systems. Enterprise mobility cannot be delivered with only point products. Applications built around a mobile business process are completely different from that of a traditional business process and as the move is made towards a truly mobile process the applications must change. Many companies that say they offer mobile solutions simply offer a mobile version of their current back-end applications, which in turn may serve as a temporary solution, providing the information that you could access on your PC. This is only providing limited function to the end user and is not achieving enterprise mobility.
3) Wireless communication infrastructure (WiFi, GPRS, Bluetooth). This will enable real-time communications via mobile computers between the associate in the field and employees and systems inside and outside the four walls of the company.
Enabling enterprise mobility within the organization
Indeed, the flood of information can drive an organization either into high costs or increased efficiency. Immediate information availability could help improve customer service levels to form the foundation for your company’s future growth.
Enabling a mobile workforce within the organization will equate to providing technology solutions that will address the major business issues that most companies need to address. Organizations that fail to stay abreast will find themselves falling behind in increasingly competitive markets.
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