This week I had a great meeting with a new customer that is looking to build a really cool enterprise mobile application for the lighting industry. Meeting with them was refreshing as they obviously had invested serious time thinking through the mobile application, end-user requirements, backend integration and reporting requirements. This is unusual in that most of the customers come to us with an idea for a mobile app but haven’t really throught through the business application.
My experience with them motivated me to share some enterprise mobility guidelines we walk through with our customers.
First Question: What is your goal in “Going Mobile”? Or better yet, WHY do you want to go mobile?
Obvious as this questions seems, it is the foundation of your success. But many companies are on their 2nd, 3rd even 4th mobile implementation because they didn’t understand the “why” of going mobile. If a customer understands the “why” of going mobile their success rate increases exponentially. Some example goals and the “whys” brought to us to date:
- Improve responsiveness to customers.
This is really a goal. It’s a result of good systems. Why do you want to improve responsiveness to customers? Have you struggled in this area? Have you identified the bottlenecks? What does it mean if you are successful?
- Providing mobile access to existing applications in the field to improve field worker productivity
When I hear this I ask, “why is it important for field workers to have this data?” Does it enable the customer to make a decision now? Does it enable the field worker to guide decisions of the customer? Does it enable the service tech to offer the service now?
- Improve operational efficiencies both in the field and back end
Again this is a goal. What is the cause of operational inefficiencies? Where are the bottlenecks? If I can eliminate those bottlenecks how does this affect serving my customers? How does it improve invoicing cycles? What reports now become available to help managers/sales people more effectively drive business.
- Expedite the invoicing process
The why on this is clear as every business wants to keep cash flow moving in a positive direction so they can grow their business.
- Proof of service completion and acceptance
Why? – A business wants to confidently demonstrate service was completed or accepted.
Once you understand the “whys” of going mobile you can can establish the goals that will help you determine the right mobile strategy. Most companies today deploy mobile applications in opportunistic business silos. While this approach can serve as a proving ground for mobile solutions it also can create a situation where mobile solutions become limited in scope, disjointed, invite technology disparity and are not scalable.
Businesses need to consider the overall mobility requirements within an organization and develop a long-term strategy that supports these goals then develop rollout strategies and pilots that align with the long-term strategy. Businesses tend to initially evaluate mobile solutions from the perspective of the field worker. But mobility needs assessments need to consider the entire business process and infrastructure considering every component including:
- Customer experience; Do customers interact with the device? A customer might review a service ticket or to provide a digital signature
- Field worker: what is the business process in the field? What data is required to help the technician or customer make a decision? Is mobile printing required? GPS -Do you need to know where your workers are or do they need help finding customer locations
- What kind of PDA device? Smartphone? Rugged PDA? Customer and field worker needs will drive device selection
- Back end integration: what accounting or corporate database systems need to be integrated with?
- Management and Executive Management: Considerations may inclue reporting, management evaluation and / or approval processes
- IT Support – what is required from the IT department? What device and connectivity standards have been set?
- Security policies
I find companies are on track when they’ve carefully considered these areas as well as some conclusions on the following:
- They have identified specific business processes that will significantly benefit mobile technology and why those are important
- Individual or departmental mobile projects are implemented with the overall business goals in mind. “Smaller” mobile projects can integrate with the enterprise mobile management, infrastructure and security policies.
- Common software, cloud based solutions or middleware mobile solutions are implemented across the organization.
- Implementation of device policies whether they be BYOD or corporate sponsored are clear and enforceable
- Projects are managed and supported according to clearly defined policies
I’ll take a look at deciding which mobile applications to deploy in part 2 of this article.
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Zenware is a Boise Idaho based company that specializes In custom mobile software development, custom iOS development, custom Android development, ipad software development, iphone software development, custom web development, web hosting and Saas based work order management software.