The shocking state of mobility in business
What mobile strategy?
I recently was at another mobility event, M6 Mobility Exchange. To my shock and disappointment, there seem to be a lack of mobile strategy in most businesses. The majority of companies represented had made some foray into mobility, but it seemed quite limited. Poll questions on BYOD saw a good number of hands raised and enthusiastic nods. But internal app stores? I could count those that deployed something on two hands.
In each industry, there are a few leaders. For example, in retail, we see companies like Sephora equipping their staff with mobile devices to answer customer questions and ring sales. Yet most companies can’t get basic business intelligence out to the managers and field staff. In transportation, the Societe de Transport de Montreal (STM) has rolled out a mobile app for their riders. But not so many ambitious ideas in other industries.
Speaking with manufacturing, healthcare, higher education, and other industry participants, it looked like crawl-walk-run was their plan, but it was very fuzzy.
Many had already bought some kind of mobile device management (e.g. saw SAP Afaria, MobileIron, AirWatch, and Good Technology represented). Each vendor had its proponents and detractors – e.g. I felt bad for the CEO of Good, as she got beat up by her customers verbally when she was on stage, due to poor usability and longstanding product issues. On the SAP side, some commented they liked the telecom cost management element that has come to Afaria, but that there was little excitement there – it gets the job done. Where were the apps that solved the business problems? Whomever the provider, it appeared the vast majority (65% is my guess) of companies at the had some kind of device management plan. But with MDM, there is the question of WHY – e.g. now that you have it, what is the driver for mobility in the first place ?
Where are the applications?
The shocker for me was that the applications in use were: email, email, email, browser, and… wait for it… email. Very few had stepped up to applications. I did hear one interesting case study of a healthcare organization using BlackBerry technology to share and communicate between staff, nurses, doctors, etc., in a secure, reliable way. Also saw some presentation and debates on mobile advertising, digital couponing, and using social media for feedback. Fair enough, but what about purpose-built applications?
In retail, some discussion of inventory apps, and mobile Point of Sale ensued. But no sign of employee self-service.
Manufacturers seemed to have their head around mobile ordering/catalog type apps, but limited deployment at this point in time. Companies doing some form of field service had already invested, but were looking for worker productivity apps, scheduling of facilities, tasks, and people.
MOBI – Mobile Business Intellegence?
One speaker asked “what ever happened to Crystal Reports ?” Of course, that hit home – it surprised me again that people hadn’t broadly rolled out SAP Business Objects Mobile Business Intelligence. So, I showed a few people. The reaction to MOBI and handful of demos and real-world BI apps was overwhelmingly positive. One guy realized he probably already owned the licenses – perhaps an upgrade is in order?
It seems to me this is an obvious place to go – whatever industry you are in. For retail (my home turf), sales analysis aka flash sales reporting should be a quick win. And some dashboards, perhaps leveraging the SAP Sales Analysis for Retail 2.0 solution. In other industries, it seems like it would be a no-brainer.
Does mobility drive productivity?
When is it going to happen? A recent (2012) McKinsey report highlighted workplace productivity and timesavings can be had from mobile applications. The secret here is multiples. e.g. save 55 minutes/day x 220 (or more workdays) x number of workers x wages = a whole lot of money. If you insist on ROI as a metric, the place to start is looking at these repetitive or time-intensive mobile tasks.
For a company with perhaps 1,000 field employees, if you can save them even 20 minutes a day, at $20/hour, its about $1.4million a year. Are you going to drive some of this innovation?