Why Mobility is an Important Component of an Effective ERP Software Solution
Whether you are on the train, in line at the café, or at the footy, look around and you will see people on their smartphones or tablets. The Deloitte Mobile Consumer Survey 2015 reports that there are approximately fifteen million smartphones in use in Australia, resulting in 440 million daily glances at our devices.
This broad usage of mobile technology affects our purchasing behavior and expectations, whether in our personal lives, or business lives. We have become so accustomed to being able to access information on the fly that we naturally look for user friendly business systems that match our experiences with consumer technology.
Therefore, it is no wonder businesses across the country are embracing mobility.
What is mobility
Evolving your business practices and systems in line with technological advances is no longer just about making people’s lives easier, it is about maintaining important relationships. Your customers, employees, and suppliers are all users of the above mentioned fifteen million smartphones, so it is only natural that your business is being looked to for continuous improvement in this space.
Mobility therefore, is fundamentally underpinned by a change in mindset that understands people can be increasingly effective in a number of situations that you may not have previously considered. Mobility is not just about enabling your sales team to work off-site, it is as much about empowering your on-site staff to access your business software systems such as your ERP solution from devices that don’t have them connected to a desk.
Viewing our business practices through a different lens allows us to also recognise that we can expect productivity in ways we hadn’t previously conceived. Such a simple change in perspective allows us to see that our users can deliver and receive insights ‘in motion’, be that waiting for a flight, at a client’s premises, or on the factory floor.
When we adapt our thinking of what is possible, we become more innovative, and in an enormously competitive marketplace, this can be the difference between your business achieving its goals, or falling short.
What benefits can mobility have
Before we delve into some practical examples of mobility in action, it is worthwhile mentioning that mobility as a supply chain function is not a brand new concept. Businesses have been using handheld technology devices for quite some time. However, advances in technology have surpassed the limited mobility capability that you may associate with functionality such as single function order picking with a handheld barcode scanner. Today, effective mobility can enhance the capabilities of this store-person to not only pick the order, but also gather valuable information while at the pick face.
By way of comparison, let’s consider a hypothetical scenario faced by an order picker in a manual, paper based warehouse. The picker is searching for a SKU (stock keeping unit) at the designated bin location, only to find the expected item is not there. Without mobility it is likely they would have to walk back to a workstation with a physical computer and search for stock on hand figures, reserve locations, and incoming delivery information. With mobility, the user could do all this while at the pick face, saving valuable time.
When users are equipped with appropriate mobile devices, they also have the capacity to record incidents as they occur, with valuable insights such as photos and videos. This helps improve the OH&S (occupational health & safety) process as the data is likely to be more accurate and timely. It also allows the appropriate action to be taken in a manner which can better control the risk when compared to a slower, paper based system.
Facilitating for the modern mobile way of working
While it may be seen as a more traditional view of mobility, it is important to still recognise the value of leveraging mobility to facilitate staff working off-site.
84% of organisations that have more than 20 staff, have employees that—excluding working from home—do their job away from an office of fixed location.
For example, if your business has salespeople that attend exhibitions, then providing the capability for them to view stock on hand information while speaking with a new prospective client can be the difference between closing the new deal and missing the opportunity. As I touched on earlier, your employees are an important stakeholder in your chosen technology solutions as it underpins their ability to compete in the modern marketplace. If they miss a sales opportunity and find out the prospect chose a competitor who could give them the timely information they were after, it can have a detrimental impact on the salespersons attitude, and even their longevity with your company.
Perhaps elements such as these are the less discussed impacts of mobility, yet should not be ignored all the same.
The upside to embracing effective ERP software which allows for effective mobility functionality is immense. Therefore, if your business is part of the 48% of organisations that don’t have access to their ERP system from the web or a mobile device, then you could very well be losing business to competitions who are in the remaining majority.
Posted by Vince Randall, Regional Vice President, Epicor Software ANZ