Mobile is must-have

Bridging the gap between manufacturers and their customers, mobile technologies are changing the manufacturing industry. Mark Greatrex, CEO at software vendor Lakeview, discusses how the adoption of these technologies should be a priority for businesses of all sizes.

This blog was written in response to Going mobile, TM’s IT in Manufacturing feature for April 2012 which investigates a ‘bring your own device’ trend in enterprise technology and asks if mobile IT is a ‘nice to have’ or a necessity for the modern manufacturer.

When it comes to discussion around mobile technology in the workplace, it is generally assumed that the push is coming from the bottom up. Employees would prefer to use their own mobile devices, rather than carry around a variety of corporate devices which perform different functions. However, the push for mobile working is now increasingly coming from the top.

Top-level drive

Today, managing directors and business owners are increasingly using mobile applications to manage their personal lives, whether it is their finances, diaries or travel.

Having recognised these benefits, executives understandably want to transfer this agility to the way they manage their business. Many senior members of staff are often out of the office but they still want to access vital business information regularly and remotely. Importantly – and contrary to much popular opinion – mobile is not a gimmick in the office environment. Businesses that are not equipped for it will soon slip behind their competitors.

Addressing business needs

This shift in the drive to mobile is important as it is the senior executives that are more likely to be in control of company purse strings, which means that the speed at which these technologies are adopted is much quicker. In manufacturing, bosses are recognising the commercial needs that can be addressed through this technology. The business benefits in terms of improved efficiency and increased sales are significant, as are the customer service improvements, made possible due to quicker transaction times.

With mobile CRM applications for example, sales executives on the road, can easily transact with customers. They can enquire about an account, raise a purchase order or invoice, or capture a signature in real-time, there and then, which ensures valuable time is saved for both the customer and company admin department. This transactional mobile software creates two-way communication between the customer and the business and ultimately, this will position the manufacturer ahead of their competition.

Improved efficiency

The efficiency improvements for field service engineers through mobile devices are significant. They can be advised where their next call will be, report their findings and access detailed information on what materials will be needed for any repair.

For directors and senior staff, the business as a whole can be better managed through this greater mobility. Executives need to be in touch with the business day-to-day, whether it is making sure orders and stock are up to date or that cash is coming in. They must be able to access information in real-time, where ever they are in the world, whatever time of day it is.

Best practice solution

There are many benefits to adopting a mobile solution. However, not all systems are the same. When considering adopting mobile technologies it is important for an organisation to consider a couple of key things, in order to ensure a best practice solution:

  • · The solution must work on multiple platforms in order to deliver maximum benefits
  • · It must be fully transactional in order to enable access of information in real-time and ensure that, for example, the user is able to raise quotes, generate orders, print documents and check the status of accounts on the customer premises

The move towards mobility is happening rapidly, enabling manufacturers to be more flexible, efficient and competitive. This works well for organisations of all sizes and the companies who will gain the edge over their competitors will be those who act quickly. It is not a case of wait and see, but one of act and prosper.