There are nine primary areas impacted by mobility (see figure 1). It has a high impact on Sales & Marketing, Services, Installation and HR processes as these either have a direct impact on revenue, customer satisfaction or employee productivity. For example, in servicing, the ability to access technical data as well as collaboration (such as remote video inspection) allows field technicians to fix field problems faster. In the highly customized segments (MTO, BTO, ETO) a field engineer can be greatly aided by these mobile enabled tools as he/she undertakes the repair process. In these cases product specific data can be available on the mobile device, the engineer can share defect photographs and specifications with an expert at another location and can resolve the issue faster without making multiple field visits. Mobile enabled HR processes can result in employee self-service scenarios that are highly cost and time efficient. Employees can plan travel, apply for leaves, fi ll time sheets, send updates on the move and get instant approvals.
In Supply Chain and Finance functions, mobility has a medium impact. In the area of SCM, typical impact areas are applications used to enhance visibility and aid real time decision making. Mobile applications can be ideally deployed for asset tracking and inventory management.
In Product Design, Engineering and Production, mobility still has a relatively low impact. However, Augmented Reality is a topic that is being explored to conceptualize design and monitor production.
While mobility is being used in functions like quality assurance, inventory management, stock in transit, factory applications etc. the impact is not visible to the outside world.
The Mobility Strategy
Unlike the traditional IT projects, the advent of mobile technologies has caught the IT departments in a Catch 22 situation. On one side, IT was unprepared for the extent and rapidness of impact while at the same time they were supposed to control and harness for maximum benefit to the business. This combination of factors has led to control moving from the IT department to business side of the organization. While traditional IT implementations required time to create business case and change management it was easy to implement mobility by buying a few devices and installing relevant apps. Hence, business functions have adopted various mobile apps depending on their specific needs without waiting for a go ahead from IT and aligning to the overall IT strategy. Today this situation has steamrolled in to a scenario where there is next to none standardization in organizations in terms of mobility adoption and the IT department is unable to anchor mobility centrally. Business specific mobility applications are running in silos creating challenges in maintenance, access and security. Companies are also losing out on leveraging their collective bargaining power where apps can be purchased for the entire organization instead of smaller business functions. Decentralization is also becoming a reason for slower adoption.
What we see clearly, is a lack of a top down mobility strategy leading to challenges in organization wide mobility deployment. There is a need to standardize methodologies , and mobility tools across the organization and build integrated solutions. Due to constraints of enterprise architecture mobility adoption is at best ad-hoc as of now. To reap the benefits of mobility, manufacturing organizations need a more coherent vision and centralized mobility architecture.
Companies need to make informed choices on mobile app deployment related to key dimensions of
- Choice of middleware,
- Native vs. hybrid apps,
- Impact on customer experience,
- Agility of deployment,
At present the key challenges in a centralized mobility strategy are: a lack of clarity on ROI, identification of right tools and platforms, lack of technical and governance standards, inconsistent user experience and branding, end user engagement, security and scale of implementation.
Mobility needs multiple flavors of understanding including user experience and user design to be complete and comprehensive. Instead of a narrow focus on platforms, companies must look at a holistic picture - IT, tools & platforms, process transformation, user experience. User experience is the key component that differentiates a mobile implementation from a standard IT implementation.
To start on an integrated mobility journey an organization must look to establish a mobility center of excellence (CoE). This will be the central governing body for all enterprise mobility needs. The mobility CoE will define standard architectures, processes & guidelines to be followed, and analysis & decision processes for all mobile deployments. To create this CoE, organizations must evaluate the current IT landscape - baseline current mobility initiatives, identify usage patterns, demand sources, gaps and best practices. This needs to be followed by setting up a team with clear long term and short term goals. This team will work in close collaboration with the business to create guidelines, policies, engagement strategies and measurement frameworks.
Once the mobility CoE is conceptualized, it can work on a 5 step model (see fi gure 2) that will help mobile enabled business transformation.
Mobility is not just UI/Apps, its about Business Process Transformation