With smartphones in our pocket, iPads in our briefcases and access to thousands of apps, we have become the mobile generation, performing a wide range of activities on mobile devices wherever we are, from viewing the latest Olympics results to searching for a local restaurant, to connecting with our Facebook friends. Mobile devices have become a part of our daily lives, and now they are changing the way we will work, as many companies turn to mobile apps for customer facing processes. So why is there such an interest in mobility all of a sudden? Here are my five reasons.
A few years ago, mobile phones were bulky and lacked power, and networks were slow. All that has changed now. The current generation of smartphones is equipped with dual-core processors, fast memory and storage, and very sharp displays.
Another difference is bandwidth. Wi-fi hotspots abound and fast 4G enables mobile users to download customer analytics and perform CRM transactions at very fast speeds – anytime, anywhere. Gartner says by the end of 2016, 1.2 billion people will carry these powerful smartphone handsets and tablets. A large installed base of these devices has accelerated the focus on mobile computing.
Availability of pre-integrated apps
Many vendors of enterprise systems are pre-packaging CRM mobile apps, downloadable from market places. These apps enable their customer’s mobile workforce to stay on top of their business and quickly make decisions no matter where they are. Capabilities include:
- View upcoming tasks and scheduled activities, so sales reps can always customer-related information at the tips of their fingers
- Get alerts on specific events such as deviations from approved discounts, prices, credit limits, or targeted gross profits
- View and complete approval requests for customer discounts, invoices etc.
- Access real-time CRM analytics reports to have up to date information
- Access and manage customer and partner information, including contact details, historical activities and past orders
- Monitor available inventory levels, and access detailed information about products, including sales price, available quantity, manufacturer, shipping type, product specifications etc.
Use of mobile technology during customer interactions not only allows organizations to become more responsive to their customers (a source of competitive advantage), but more importantly, it enables them to appear bigger in size and richer in resources than they actually are (a huge coup in perception management for mid-sized companies). Managers can also get access to the latest operational scorecards on their mobile phone. Since ERP and BI vendors are offering pre-built mobile apps at no additional cost, even small organizations can afford to mobile-enable their workforce and improve their productivity.
Shift to cloud computing
Organizations are increasingly deploying cloud-based business applications. In addition, more and more of a company’s data is increasingly residing on a cloud. These cloud-based applications have web services APIs and their data can be easily consumed by mobile devices using web services. As a result, rollout of mobile apps has become easier.
Senior executives of companies are adopting the iPad in large numbers. They are asking their IT departments to enable them to access their corporate systems using this mobile device – whether it’s for reading their email or checking the status of their customer’s order or approving a purchase requisition for their department or reviewing a product plan. As a result of the success of iPad with executives, interest in mobile computing has got attention at the highest levels.
These reasons suggest that mobile computing at business in not only here to stay, it will become integral to how we will work. Organizations that do not plan to deploy the mobile apps from their enterprise vendors (or build their own apps on top of their applications and data) will see their competitiveness erode in the near future.
Mindy Fiorentino is vice president of portfolio marketing in the Global Ecosystems & Channels Solution Marketing Group at SAP