Over the next three to five years, the continuing spread of mobile technology will have a dramatic impact on the way companies do business. Companies that embrace mobile technology will see improvements in productivity and operational efficiency that were unimaginable only a few years ago. In fact, mobile technology can’t be seen as a luxury anymore; it’s a necessity. Some companies are already using mobile applications to deliver increased customer satisfaction and productivity; for them the future is already here. In many organizations, though, there’s disconnect between the changing nature of work and the way business is transacted. Processes, tools and infrastructure are falling out of alignment with the new demographics of a workforce that’s informed by the “consumerization” of IT. Mobile email was the groundbreaking application here, but instant messaging, wikis and collaborative workspaces are also playing a role.
The good news is that speed, availability and price have never been better. Broadband connectivity is more available and less expensive. Despite these positive developments, many companies are slow to adopt mobile technology. For some companies, quantifying a solid overall ROI is a challenge, even with overwhelmingly positive feedback from users. Other companies tend to focus too much on device selection and costs, instead of on the underlying business processes that can be improved. And in many cases, internal IT is forced into the role of systems integrator, cobbling together a complex environment of devices, applications and platforms without a holistic development strategy. So what is the value of mobility and where should businesses look for benefits first?
Indicators of Value
Mobility creates value by allowing mobile access to contextually-relevant information so front-line workers can make informed decisions in their daily interaction with customers, partners and suppliers. In fact, mobility delivers more than just context-relevant information by supporting the capture of associated information as well as the transactional event itself. Accurately harvesting such data can produce a multiplier effect for efficiency and cost reduction. The key to adding value, then, is not finding the “killer app,” but identifying business processes for which mobility could make a real difference. Some of these added values may be less tangible, such as customer satisfaction, but others may be readily quantifiable, such as increased revenue or reduced cost.
Mobility serves to enhance a business in four ways:
- Workflow enhancers are the foundations of mobility, since they can demonstrate clear benefits in a relatively stand-alone way. Examples are mobile work order systems, scheduling and dispatching, and information access.
- Knowledge enhancers can be paired with workflow enhancers to provide better understanding of the underlying details: asset tracking and monitoring, mobile inventory systems and knowledge-base look up.
- Transaction enhancers support mobile data entry and alerting and response systems, letting companies squeeze more value from other processes.
- Finally, reporting enhancers can add value within particular applications, such as sales pipeline management, time and expense monitoring and executive dashboards.
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