Companies that use cloud-enabled mobile services are quickly seeing the benefits as well as a return on investment. These companies are also widening the gap between their competitors thanks to the use of this technology, says CAROLINE SCOFIELD of Westcon.
You could bet your bottom dollar that everyntrends and predictions article for 2012 included hot tips to mobility andncloud-based computer or software as a service. But I’d argue that if these arenstill on a company’s to do list, they are falling behind, fast. Cloud-enablednmobility services are being used today in the field by forward-thinkingncompanies who are seeing the benefits and realising the returns on investmentnalready. And thanks to this, these companies are pulling away from the pack andnwidening the gap very quickly.
The key to this take up of enterprise mobilitynhas been the holy grail of cloud-based pricing models applied to mobilitynservices. Thanks to belt-tightening during the global recession, enterprisesnhave demanded “pay-per-drink” mobility options, allowing them to allocate thesenmobility services to operational expenditure rather than capital expenditure.nHardware, software, consulting and subscriptions are paid for on a month-monthnbasis. Need an upgrade? Send everything back and replace it with new kit ornapplications.
This has allowed enterprise mobility servicesnto fall within reach of companies wanting to save money, improve efficiencies,nbe more competitive and offer a better service – in fact, I’d argue that anynenterprise is guaranteed to be able to solve an operational problem withnmobility.
For instance, TNT couriers in Europe saw anreturn on its investment into a mobile label printing service within 104 ndays – less than six months. Simply by kitting out warehouse employees with anhandsfree, wearable printer, TNT was able to increase productivity, minimisenwaste, reduce labelling and delivery errors and streamline processes.
Clean invoicing is a major driver of mobilitynservices, and a Global beverage company discovered there were several knock-onnbenefits to this that it hadn’t expected. Delivery drivers were enabled tongenerate accurate invoices on the spot, giving the mothership an immediate viewnof supply and demand, allowing them to optimise production schedules on thenfly. What’s more, the drivers were then able to on-sell excess inventory onntheir delivery route, minimising returns and maximising the revenue-generatingncapability of the delivery process.
Other mobility implementations includenon-the-spot gathering of inspection information in mines, asset tracking ofnvaluable goods and livestock, and timely maintenance by major utilities. Ancommon driver for many of these implementations is delivering or collectingnmission-critical information at the point of activity – empowering speedyndecision-making and transactions on the ground, and giving senior management annaccurate and timeous 30,000 foot view back at head office.
A word of caution however. While the currentnenvironment is immensely favourable for practical implementations thanks to thenconvergence of SaaS-based pricing and mobility. And the technical mobilitynadvances have been made (yes, it is possible to implement a mobility servicendeep beneath the earth’s surface for the mining industry). But, it’s seldom ansimple case of plugging together the various pockets of technology that existnsupplied by a range of vendors and hitting the ground running. Shrewdnenterprises are turning to expert mobile systems integrators to plan thenservice, pull the pieces together and then support the company for thenfollowing months and years as its requirements develop and change.
Part of this support includes navigating thenspace where technology and humanity intersect, which is key to the success ofnany mobility service. An accurate generalisation is that white-collar workersnusually accept mobility with gusto, as it makes their jobs easier. Blue-collarnworkers need a bit more hand-holding for a mobility service to succeed. For anstart there may be literacy issues to consider and these should be borne innmind during the design phase: making the interface as user-friendly as possible.nBut also, blue-collar workers often see technology as a threat to their jobsnand livelihood, so need to be incentivised to embrace mobility to ensure ansuccessful roll-out.
Enterprise mobility is no longer an“prediction” or a “trend to watch”. Rather companies need to act quickly tonscratch mobility off their “to do” list and move it to their “in progress”nlist, or better yet, their “completed” list. This boat has sailed and modernnbusinesses need to stay mobile to survive and thrive.
* Follow Gadget onnTwitter on @gadgetza
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