You can’t go far these days without hearing about mobility and how important it is for both consumers and businesses, yet company leaders still need to grasp how mobile technology can impact their organisations.
“The reality is that mobility is a game changing technology for business, from small businesses and entrepreneurs, through to the enterprise level firms,” says Nihan de Kock, R&D manager at Flux Interactive. “The productivity and operational benefits offered by mobile technology are not normally found in applications that are generally available, but in those apps designed specifically to streamline and improve business processes.”
De Kock notes that correctly planned and implemented mobile technology is a practical solution that delivers measurable results. Any company can find business processes that can be improved with mobile technology, but businesses with many field workers are in a prime position to exploit the advantages inherent to this post-PC world.
Improved decision making and cost savings
As an example, De Kock points to a Flux client that printed job cards for its field workers every day, handed them out in the morning and collected them later after the operatives had filled each with hand-written reports. These reports were then captured, photographs from digital cameras attached and the results eventually made available to the respective departmental managers. “By digitising the job-card process and empowering employees to receive and report back via mobile devices, this company not only streamlined their working processes, but also saved the business money,” adds De Kock.
“Another benefit was being able to assign human resources to more important work than simply capturing data from the field workers’ hand-written reports. Most important to the executives at the company was the quick availability of information from the field. Before selecting the mobile option, they had to wait for a week or two before they could analyse information collected from their customer-facing employees. With the mobile solution in place, the information is available almost immediately, allowing them to make real-time decisions to best serve their customers.”
There are other examples of mobility significantly changing the way businesses work. These include reducing the opportunity for fraud as well as keeping tabs on employees and assets. Even in rough terrain, new ruggedized devices are shock and waterproof resistant to ensure they can be used effectively right at the coalface.
Naturally, one of the concerns about mobility is the cost of the hardware as well as the development of applications. When it comes to hardware, De Kock suggests companies think carefully whether they want to provide the hardware to their employees, or whether they want to adopt the BYOD (bring your own device) approach, which creates more questions around security and privacy.
In terms of software, he admits that having custom apps designed and developed for every business process would be very expensive, especially for the small business and entrepreneur. De Kock advises companies to opt for a cheaper, yet very effective alternative in the form of an enterprise mobility platform.
Companies can define their processes on the platform, making it available to users via the cloud and in offline environments. This changes the cost factor to a pay-per-user, per-month option which can be scaled up or down as required, allowing the company only to pay for the services they use.
Most importantly, De Kock says mobility will only deliver returns if it is planned correctly and implemented effectively. Downloading the latest app may work well for the average consumer, but an entrepreneur or business leader needs to define a mobile strategy and what the business process requirements are carefully, as well as how mobile technologies can optimise it and the associated costs before taking the plunge.