The most obvious benefits of mobile technology are, well, obvious. It's a great productivity booster when employees can check on an order status from the road.
However, as mobile tech becomes more and more ubiquitous, IT leaders need to more fully embrace how dramatically mobile can change your business. It can not only improve business processes - its possibilities should be inspiring you to develop entirely new processes with customers and partners who simply don't care where or when an interaction takes place.
In the book excerpt "Managing Mobile Business," author Bhuvan explores the full range of impact mobility can have on the design of an enterprise. The 22-page PDF, which is a chapter from the book "The Next Wave of Technologies: Opportunities in Chaos," is available free to IT Business Edge members here in the IT Downloads library.
Bhuvan breaks down the transition from standard land-based connectivity to a mobile mindset into five phases:
Seems logical enough. As always, the innovation aspect of the transition is never as easy as you might hope. A business must not only look at internal business processes that can be optimized through mobile - it must also consider its overall business climate and competitive landscape. Do customers really want to purchase your goods through a mobile app, or would they rather simply get new product notices and community reviews? This layer of strategic thought will lead you to new business opportunities, not just a niftier delivery format.
The chapter lays out the components of the transition to mobility in the chart you can see below.
Bhuvan goes on to discuss the impact mobility has on relationships with partners, who increasingly need to have a deep understanding of how each other's businesses work on a strategic level.
The book chapter then runs through some of the expected benefits you can expect to recognize from embracing mobility. Among the benefits discussed are:
Ability to Reach a Wider and More Dispersed Audience: The book notes that geography no longer matters as a limitation of how businesses interact with their customers. Of course, that's true of the Internet in general, but particularly in international markets, consumers rely on their mobile devices for a wide range of transactions. If you don't have a mobile app, your market penetration in some markets is going to suffer noticeably.
Ability to Capture Data at the Source. Having a warehouse floor worker input inventory levels directly into your ERP system dramatically decreases the data input errors you will incur by shuffling paper forms from the warehouse to receiving to accounting. Other technologies, such as RFID, can take a lot of the pressure off humans to correctly enter fine details - never a strong suit of the species - and free them up for other tasks.
Virtual Team Formation. Just as with customers, mobile technology eliminates the need for workers to sit next to each other. More importantly, it can free up highly skilled or specialized workers to contribute to a project whenever and wherever they can fit it into their schedules. Empowering a hard-to-get consultant to review specs or financial analysis during their train commute can speed up your project and enable you to recruit the best talent.
The excerpt also offers a comprehensive list of issues you should need to consider as you move to mobile, including ownership, privacy and security issues in terms of mobile content as well as handling quality and testing for dynamically changing business processes. It's a detailed and interesting read - you should definitely check it out.