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Enabling the Workforce – Mobile is a MUST for Today’s Retail Associates.

On December 7th, SAP hosted an event for more than 35 customers across all industries to discover first-hand the power of enterprise ready SAP software on devices such as the Apple iPad and iPhone.  Customers had the opportunity to discuss and see through demonstrations how these mobile devices and applications will revolutionize their business environment.

While attending the event, it was clear from watching and listening to the questions and commentary that came from the audience, companies are struggling to find the right balance of personalization (what their employees want to have on their mobile device for work and for play) and control (how much “back end” access do they need their employees to have on devices that are heavily used outside of the work environment).

We are living in an increasingly mobile world. And just as retailers are preparing and enabling their infrastructure for the mobile consumer in order to grow their business, they must also prepare for the mobile worker.

Consider the opportunity mobility presents to retailers; empowering their associates with real-time information to make better and faster decision that ultimately enhances the customer experience.  With that opportunity comes additional infrastructure investment and a unique set of challenges.

Given the higher rate of turnover that the retail industry experiences at the store associate level,  retailers should consider how to best leverage an associates’ personal mobile device avoiding unnecessary costs. Exceptions will be made for tablets (i.e. iPads) and other devices that a retailer will own to increase productivity on the store floor. But the potential advantages to sync key information and data with an associates’ personal device cannot be ignored.

Given the opportunity, as well as the complexity, involved in delivering mobile capabilities to their employees, it was not a surprise to see the tremendous level of interest at the event that companies had in the Sybase Unwired Platform for application development. Additionally, there was considerable activity around Afaria, the mobile device management and security solution.  Clearly, retailers need to have a holistic view of mobility, how do they enhance the consumer experience, and what can they do to improve the productivity of a workforce that is increasingly mobile.

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