Enabling the mobile workflorce

The short history between the mobile device and the enterprise has been turbulent. Consumer innovation in this space has happened at a pace that has left most enterprises uncomfortable at best and paralyzed at worst. Luckily, most have organizations have started accepting this intrusive technology into their thinking. Some have even started successfully exposing their LOB systems to these new interfaces. Others have implemented marketing driven apps for their customers. What’s missing is that few enterprises have embraced the inherent features of this technology to enhance and change the way they do business internally by enabling their mobile workforce.

Most businesses have a portion of their workforce that is mobile or out in the field. We’re talking about the field engineers, the salespeople, the fleet.. the people whose work isn’t behind a desktop. These staff typically have mobile devices or can now be cheaply equipped with these devices. With the right apps/ software, these devices can not only enhance productivity but often enable entirely new models of working that weren’t possible in the past. These new models of work can be radical new market disrupters.

Mobile technology enables use cases that simply weren’t possible. More specifically, solutions using this technology can:

  • track the time and location covered by the field agent, enabling new metrics
  • capture photographs and video to supplement traditional form capture
  • enable offline work scenarios in areas of low connectivity. Syncing again when back on-line
  • navigate the agent to specific locations e.g. Broken infrastructure
  • live capture of data when augmented with other sensors

Ultimately, all tasks and the associated resolution can have supporting evidence of the GPS and camera.

Although these solutions can be ground-breaking, organization’s strategy should addresses the risks that come with bleeding edge solutions. A mobile orientated solution needs be rolled out with a device management product. This is needed to ensure functionality such as remote wiping.

The mobile solution also needs to be sufficiently integrated. A phone with an app is hardly useful without appropriate integration into the LOB system. This integration can be costly with Legacy systems where integration often isn’t simple and clean.Currently, the market also has a diverse selection of devices. This can result in costly development as the apps will require some redevelopment and customizing for each platform. Although HTML 5 is a way out of this, it comes at a loss of functionality e.g. Apps that need to function without connectivity aren’t best done with HTML5.

The reality is that these market-disrupter mobile solutions are becoming commonplace. Many businesses have unexpectedly been put in jeopardy by some small, unknown start-up. It is critical that an organization’s mobile strategy needs to go beyond simply managing BYOD. However, with these potential pitfalls, a knee-jerk app strategy will be a waste of resources.  A prudent first move would then be a simple, proof of concept (POC) focused on a few high-value use cases. Take the first step.. but make it lean and do it soon.

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