Updated on 23 September 2010
Enterprises have been waiting for technologies to reach high functional standards and want to understand how mobility can impact their business processes. So far, it’s mostly been a few early adopters that have been deploying mobility solutions, with mobile e-mail leading the way. However, this is set to change over the next few years with mobility growing from just a good-to-have factor to an essential part of the IT infrastructure.
Companies take two different approaches to justifying their mobility initiatives. Some organisations focus on cost-cutting measures and benefits, while others focus on mobility solutions to achieve larger business benefits like productivity increase or customer service improvements.
Interestingly, a recent Forrester analysis says that approximately 40% of firms are planning to cut the number of employees who qualify for corporate-liable mobile data services, and a similar percentage of organisations will decrease the number of employees who qualify for corporate-liable mobile voice services.
This is an indication that organisations expect productivity improvements with the use of mobility.
Firms continue to use mobile investments to enhance the productivity of employees who are truly mobile such as sales professionals, field service professionals, and logistics personnel. Then there are also categories of employees who work out of their desks. There are mobile applications that can serve this category as well for productivity improvements.
Mobile applications are also being used by some companies to maintain and improve customer relationships and satisfaction levels. The applications in this area can range from mobile CRM solutions and mobile inventory management solutions to mobile asset management solutions that can provide real-time data to the employees and in turn the customers.
This has resulted in significantly decreased calls from field reps to the customer care team, allowing the customer care reps to focus on addressing complex customer issues.
As per a survey conducted by Forrester, mobile sales force automation (SFA) systems are on the radar of the companies and 25% of them are either piloting or using some kind of mobile SFA systems.
Another 23% appear to be considering mobile SFA in some manner in the coming year. This indicates that there is a tremendous interest in this mobile line of business application compared to rest of the mobile applications that can be deployed in an enterprise context.
Mobile SFA solutions have existed for quite some years now in different forms. Earlier, they were deployed on the rugged proprietary handheld devices. However, certain smartphones are now gaining acceptance as a device option for field forces, in part because they offer higher functionalities for a relatively lower cost.
These smartphones are typically the ones based on newer versions of operating systems that are open to third-party application development. Their mass market availability has created a wide variety of affordable form factors that span the continuum of voice and data-centric features. Enterprises are evaluating smartphones as the main device for certain types of field workers for three reasons:
From an Indian perspective, Blackberry has gained a good acceptability as a platform of choice because of the functionality that RIM provides. However, companies are also evaluating lower-cost solutions and even home-grown solutions that can meet their specific enterprise mobility needs.
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