Thursday, December 27, 2012

The ROI of Implementing Enterprise Mobility

For our last post of the year, we leave you with some food for thought on getting the highest ROI from your business mobility initiative. From the healthcare and life sciences industries to oil & gas, enterprise mobility is one of today’s hottest technology trends. But knowing that something is a “hot technology trend” doesn’t make it right for your organization unless it comes attached to clear quantitative and qualitative benefits. So, just what is the potential ROI of implementing an enterprise mobility solution?

In short: the potential is manifold. By enabling workers to instantly both access and input data from and into a centralized system no matter where they are, enterprise mobile software enables companies to:

 

  1. Get the right information to the right people as quickly as possible. There are no more bottlenecks as workers further up the chain wait for a mobile employee to return to an office or desktop to enter crucial details into the corporate business system. Rather, data immediately enters the system via a mobile device. This also increases data accuracy and eliminates redundancies in data entry and tracking, freeing up the worker to complete other tasks. In this way, enterprise mobile software can have a cascading effect on productivity throughout the organization.
  2. React quickly to volatile environments. Whether in supply chain organizations or on an oil rig, conditions and the task at hand can change in mere seconds. With information at the tip of the worker’s fingertips as to condition of a significant component of the operating equipment, he or she can make mission-critical decisions to repair, replace or inspect and increase safety in the workplace environment. With well-thought out enterprise mobile software that models existing workflows, workers will be able to react and adapt quickly to match these changing demands.
  3. Provide workers and managers with the insights they need. From last minute decisions to strategic initiatives, data centralized into a mobile system and provided via a comprehensive, up-to-date dashboard enhances visibility throughout the work chain. This empowers both workers and managers alike to make more informed and strategic decisions than when their data is spread across various systems. When making critical decisions impacting the supply chain process or condition of a pipeline, if the bottom line of the company relies on decreased downtime and higher productivity, mobility can make a significant difference.

 

Overall, with real-time data exchanges and business analytics, a streamlined workflow, and the ability to work in a diversity of conditions, enterprise mobility empowers companies to become far more fit in their competitive decision-making. When a company can think, act and change faster than their competitors, that is the highest and best ROI of all.

Wishing you a very happy new year!

Friday, December 21, 2012

How to Develop an Effective Mobile Strategy: Top Hits from 2012

Before we say goodbye to 2013, we that thought we'd take a look back at the year in review, and what a year it has been for the mobile technology industry!

At the beginning of 2012, we resolved to turn our blog into a one-stop-shop, expert resource guide for companies needing guidance in developing their mobile strategy. After all, fourteen plus years of driving transformational mobile initiatives and developing mobile software for Fortune 1000 companies gives us the know-how to enable companies to succeed. So, to celebrate, today we’re compiling this year’s best hits, which together highlight the best path for developing an effective mobile strategy.

 

  1. Prepare to embrace BYOD with a comprehensive enterprise mobility solution that promotes autonomy and choice beneath a unified, customized and secure software umbrella.
  2. Encourage the use of a broad spectrum of mobile devices including tablets in the workplace, even in inventory and supply chain functions, and create an environment of experimentation that will ready your company to look beyond traditional form factors.
  3. Look for an enterprise mobile software provider who will provide great service and develop a solution for your company that is precise, flexible and adaptable.
  4. Take the time to develop a solution that is highly user friendly and consider other means for encouraging high user adoption rates.
  5. Choose an enterprise mobility provider that owns its own patents to stand out from your competitors with innovative technology.
  6. Find a provider that understands the importance of integrating mobile data with your company’s ERP.
  7. Look for a provider who can customize their software for your company and industry demands, whether your company operates in the oil and gas industry, healthcare and life sciences, or manufacturing,
  8. Choose an enterprise mobile software provider with a finger on the pulse of the latest mobile developments, from RFID to HTML5 and beyond.

 

Focus on these 8 key factors, and you’re sure to develop an exceptional mobile solution. Your solution is @hand! We look forward to providing new insights into this ever-important industry throughout the year to come.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

6 Secrets to Higher End-User Adoption of New Enterprise Mobile Software

As we explored in our recent blog post, "Investing in Mobility Means Investing in the End User", when choosing a new enterprise mobility solution, it’s important to partner with a provider that carefully considers the needs of end users. But, as your provider works diligently to deliver mobile asset management, mobile supply chain, and field service solutions, there are several things you can do to encourage universal adoption. Here are our top six secrets for doing just that.

 

  1. Answer the “what’s in it for me” question. Before you settle on your solution, gather data on workflows from the workers and functional departments who will most often interact witha particular mobile application. Tailor your workflows and training classes for each type of team, consistently devoting the bulk of your energy to tools from which they will directly benefit.
  2. Communicate throughout the process. If you’re truly doing an overhaul, consistently emphasize the broader or deeper philosophical goals you’ll be embracing as a company. End users will be more likely to adopt if they’re shown the broader picture and kept informed so they feel they are a crucial part of the process.
  3. Phase it in. While a “rip it off like a Bandaid” approach will be merited in some situations, most often it’s best to reassure stakeholders with a phased approach, which will help workers scale the learning curve and feel heard as they offer their feedback every step of the way.
  4. Find and showcase your early adopters. Every company will have its tech enthusiasts, eager to try out the latest new thing. Get creative in publicizing your early adopters’ interaction with the new technology, whether through internal blogging or YouTube videos. If early adopters are too shy, you may also want to identify and strategically recruit connectors – popular employees with respected opinions.
  5. Be ready with new tricks and tips. Curate a weekly list of tricks and tips for employees across the company to spark engagement and experimentation. Solicit this input from employees every week.
  6. Highlight BYOD. If you already have a strong BYOD policy, get creative in showing employees how this new software will work with their devices, including iPads, iPhones, Android tablets, or Windows devices – that, in fact, the right enterprise mobility software is essential in catering to a diversity of preferences.

 

In the end, the right enterprise mobile software will be adopted if it provides the solutions your company needs. Use these top six tips to spark that initial engagement, and keep enthusiasm high.

Friday, December 14, 2012

How Do You Get Mobile Software Solutions that Drive Competitive Advantage?

You use providers with experience in complex organizational problem-solving! That's how!

When choosing an enterprise mobile software provider, it’s essential to find a partner with a thorough understanding of your business model and industry at large. This is particularly true for large companies with complex day-to-day business operations and stringent industry regulations, both of which require flexible and adaptable solutions while maintaining the highest standards for data tracking and integrity.

Whether your organization is in the oil and gas,healthcare and life sciences, utilities, construction or engineering industry,, partnering with an enterprise mobility provider with experience in complex organizational problem solving will drive your competitive advantage in your sector. Here are just a few reasons why: 

1. Integration with ERP systems. The larger an organization, the more important enterprise systems like IBM Maximo and Oracle EBS are to maintaining smooth operational flows internally. Your enterprise mobile software provider should have experience integrating outward-facing mobile systems with essential ERPs to help speed business processes and prevent bottlenecks. What’s more, an experienced provider will ensure the smooth transfer and continued integrity of data so that your company can better analyze data, stop problems before they get out of hand and identify new opportunities ahead of your competitors.

2. Mobile solutions that consider logistics. Large companies operate across time zones and manage a diversity of workers who need to communicate quickly and efficiently. The right enterprise mobile software provider will offer an easy to navigate user interface that promotes quick communication and encourages workers to immediately enter data that can then be processed further up the chain, thereby reducing transcontinental impediments to workflow.

3. Industry-specific technology and customization. Whether it’s maintenance, asset tracking, inventory management or field service, the right enterprise mobility solutions provider will use their extensive experience to offer industry-specific technology that can be customized to fit any given company’s needs. An experienced company will already be aware of industry-specific practices and will therefore lead your company towards the most cutting edge technological solutions.

Complex organizations require complex organizational problem solving. Partnering with an enterprise mobile software provider that has extensive experience working with large, complex organizations will help your company find the most streamlined, cutting edge solutions the market has to offer.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Did you catch this month's Mobile Report?

The new issue of The Mobile Report just delivered yesterday contains an article reminding us that when you decide to explore an enterprise-wide mobility strategy, don't forget to take into account the end user experience. Investing in mobility means investing in the end user. When you focus on the ideal end-result, that is, a successful mobile project, your most critical metric is rate of user adoption and acceptance. Including users in the maintenance and inventory work functions, for example, in the process of discovery, evaluation and testing will uncover issues critical to the success of the project, and get higher buy-in to ensure better user adoption and ultimately a more successful mobile report.
 
Need a break from your work projects? Here's an idea: take part in our end-of-year survey to discover what's on your mobility wish list for 2013, and your wish list will become part of the aggregate data for an infographic we'll share in Janary. 
Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Manage Enterprise IT Consumerization by Partnering with the Right Mobile Software Provider

From the healthcare and life sciences industries all the way to the oil and gas sector, IT consumerization is here to stay. Rather than being a scary reality with which companies must contend, many are now seeing the countless benefits that this trend brings; mobile devices, after all, introduce innovations and possibilities that traditional form factors lack, allowing companies far greater flexibility and increased user participation rates.

 

In order to make the most of mobile device consumerization at the workplace, it’s best to partner with an enterprise mobile software provider that can help your company embrace all that BYOD has to offer. Why?

 

 

 

 

1. Freedom of choice. In order to create BYOD programs that are truly Bring Your Own Device, companies must allow for a wide range of form factors. However, there should be a company policy in place that limits device selection to those that can meet essential end-user requirements and company needs. What’s more, with more devices on offer, it’s important to partner with a mobile solutions provider who can offer enterprise mobile software that will work with a multitude ofchoices – from iOS to Android to Windows. This is a big shift from traditional device policies, as IT will have to manage development and maintenance of mobile software across so many different systems.

 

2. Industry and task-specific customization. The right enterprise mobile software provider will create user-centric mobile applications that are right for your specific industry. This will encompass everything a mobile worker might need, from mobile asset management to mobile inventory software, field workforce software and mobile work order software. Your mobile solution should provide essential tools and flexibility while keeping mobile workers away from the complexity and volatility of back-end systems.

 

3. Secure access to data. Having the right data at the right time is essential to mobile workers and managers throughout the chain of command. The best enterprise mobility solutions leverage mobile software with intelligent transaction routing capabilities as well as security and data protection, such as the ability to remotely wipe corporate data from personal devices that go missing or are stolen.

 

4. High quality support. The right mobile system will provide a unified mobile strategy while still giving workers maximum choice. To keep that unified system running smoothly, it’s important to partner with an enterprise mobile software provider who can provide rapid and high quality support.

 

The Takeaway

Done the right way, enterprise IT consumerization should help mobile workers focus on their core tasks, increase autonomy without sacrificing security and data integrity, and comply with complex industry regulations. With the right enterprise mobile software provider, workers will benefit from maximum flexibility and usability, and companies will benefit from increased productivity rate as well as more accurate data collection and analysis.

 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Mobility Checklist: Find a Solution That Streamlines Mobile Inventory Management Efforts

The past two weeks, we’ve been taking a closer look at the essential elements that comprise any successful mobile solution, including the importance of finding an enterprise mobile software provider who can offer Mobile Asset Management and Mobile Asset Tracking. Today, we conclude our three-part series with the final factor to consider: mobile inventory management.

From big oil and gas enterprises to companies operating in the healthcare, manufacturing or utilities industries, being able to accurately and efficiently track and manage inventory is key to maintaining productivity and profitability. Look for these six improvements in any mobile inventory management solution:

1. Reduced time delays between receiving and data entry. As the old saying goes, you cannot manage what you cannot measure. The right mobile inventory software will empower field workers to immediately enter data into a centralized system for processing up the line, rather than losing track of details or causing delays while waiting to fill out paperwork.

2. Reduced paperwork errors. Paper-based systems have a tendency to create redundancy, as data must be copied, re-entered and re-filed at multiple stops along the workflow. Mobile dashboards, when intelligently paired with business ERPs, will reduce the likelihood of entry, copying or categorization errors.

3. Improved inventory data integrity. Better data capture and management tools improve inventory data integrity, which in turn enables companies to create more accurate operational assessments, make more intelligent decisions, and better anticipate industry trends.

4. Enhanced visibility of inventory and logistic operations. With the best mobile inventory management software, every member along a workflow, from field workers to managers to CIOs, can easily access tools that track completion of all necessary tasks as well as inventory itself. This increases accountability, and drives better management decisions, both for long term strategy and tactical workflow adjustments.

5. Reduced inventory costs. Better tracking of inventory allows company decision makers to make more informed decisions about inventory purchasing and management needs, greatly reducing the likelihood of unnecessary purchases.

6. Improved accountability and traceability of inventory management events. With an easy to use dashboard and centralized task system, managers will more easily assess the demands of every inventory management event, assign tasks, and track completion. 

Keep all these essential points in mind. With the right enterprise mobile software provider on your side, your company will streamline its mobile inventory management process, greatly reducing time, effort and costs along the way.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

If you give an engineer HTML5…

As the story goes, if you give a mouse a cookie, the cookie alone won’t satisfy him. It merely sets him in motion onto other pursuits leaving a trail of unfinished projects until he comes full circle back to wanting another cookie. 

In the mobile world, if you give an engineer HTML5, sure, it’s a powerful as a tool, but it isn’t a silver bullet that alone makes mobility and cross-platform development easy. HTML5 is still considered a work in progress by standards bodies. B2C app makers can’t figure out how to monetize HTML5 apps.  Consumers are reluctant to rapidly adopt HTML5 apps mostly because they just don’t understand them. They often require a separate process to download, they’re bug-ridden, and HTML5 app stores just can’t deliver. Consumers just don’t have the time or patience.

What about enterprises? Don’t fool yourself into thinking that HTML5 is all you need for the complex business environment. In companies with heavy dependence on mobile field technologies such as industrial manufacturing, oil and gas, energy and even life sciences, challenges faced by the operations and IT organizations are dramatic when it comes to mobile app development.

HTML5 is often viewed as a single solution that will enable companies to rapidly build mobile apps with off-the-shelf tooling and talent against their existing backend ERP systems. Unfortunately, these “solutions” ultimately fail to consider the bigger picture. HTML addresses only one part of the mobile architecture. Here are five reasons why relying solely on HTML as the magic answer is a sure way to a very short-lived solution:

1. HTML5 doesn’t isolate the backend mobile platform architecture from several thousand mobile devices constantly communicating the servers for updates, thus sacrificing scalability.

2. HTML5 requires open ports that aren’t behind the network firewall, so your IT staff now has one more headache - the security of enterprise servers.

3. HTML5 can’t centralize logging for troubleshooting issues and application management for the mobile application tier.

4. HTML5 can’t isolate the mobile frontends from constantly changing enterprise backend systems – so how do you update the mobile app every time the backend changes?

5. HTML5 applications lack sufficient and comprehensive analytics and reporting critical for decision-making.

IT organizations are getting on to the mobile software bandwagon in rapid order by acquiring engineering talent specialized in mobile application development, but this frenzy isn’t producing the quick remedy IT management had hoped. Instead, organizations that have learned the hard way have discovered that leveraging a middle (and/or mobile) layer, such as @hand’s M-Tier can address many of these concerns. Incorporating that middle/mobile layer provides the flexibility and rich functionality that complex environments require, and ultimately, the bigger picture is much more clear. In field maintenance applications for enterprises, the end-user experience drives the adoption rate which ultimately impacts your ROI. It just doesn’t make sense to invest in a mobile platform that doesn’t deliver a full range of functionality.

How do successful companies do it? Read more about M-Tier here.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Mobility Checklist: The Importance of Mobile Asset Tracking

Last week, we took a close look at the importance of considering mobile asset maintenance in your mobile solution. This week, we’ll examine mobile asset tracking, the second of three important factors when choosing an enterprise mobile software provider. So just what is mobile asset tracking, and why is it an important? Asset tracking entails capturing and reporting asset location data through not only barcode scanning and manual input but also RFID. Here are just a few things that a good mobile asset tracking application will provide.

1. Improved asset data integrity. This is important both to asset maintenance and to mobile asset tracking. Whereas the former pertains more towards the actual quality of the data, and how that data is tracked within the system, the latter refers to the accuracy in the identification and capture of the asset to prepare it for inventory, transfers and location updates.  It's essential to partner with an enterprise mobile software provider who can provide intuitive mobile applications that track assets and corresponding locations.

2. An end to redundant data entry. The best asset tracking mobile software will streamline steps taken along the workflow, replacing the need to re-enter the same data to complete different tasks with a seamless integration between mobile and enterprise systems, creating data that is universally understandable and able to be manipulated by all necessary systems.

3. Improved accountability within and across teams. A simplified and centralized dashboard provides multiple teams working within one centralized system, all employees, from field workers to management with the ability to track inventory, automate discrepancy reports and tracking, task completion and performance. Centralization and better tracking means increased transparency.

4. Increased compliance with internal or external regulators. Likewise, better mobile asset tracking within a centralized system will make the task of compliance enforcement less diffuse, helping both individual team members and enforcers address breaches quickly and learn about new regulations. In essence, good asset management software will take the bulk of the task away from the individual into an automated system.

Mobile asset tracking is a crucial element of any mobile software solution. Later this week, we’ll take a look at the types of mobile inventory management solutions any good enterprise mobile software should provide.

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