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Going mobile

Going mobile

01/05/2012 | Channel: Technology, E-Business / IT

Julie Purves explains why mobility intelligence is critical
for organisations that wish to harmonise data from the
entire mobile operation


Companies whose core business processes rely heavily on mobility are on the increase. In the last ten years organisations such as those in supply chain have embraced mobility and the gains in productivity promised by suppliers. However the risk of business underperformance and a failure to live up to customer expectations have become an all-too-familiar trait as organisations struggle to integrate new forms of technology and ensure that they are performing optimally.

Organisations make investments in mobile solutions to improve their operational effectiveness, but if they can’t see how a mobile enterprise is performing, and can’t identify where issues may be arising, the solution becomes a support nightmare. Without this management information and the ability to remotely control large fleets of mobile devices and keep them operational, the effectiveness of the mobile solution suffers and the essential confidence that users must place on their mobile devices may be irretrievably lost.

A typical mobile solution incorporates a complex mix of hardware, network, application, and support services. If there is a limited view of the interactivity of all aspects of the complete solution, the return on investment (ROI) is under threat. This threat comes largely from diversity and rapid change within the mobile market – new devices, faster networks, new business systems and changing market drivers.

Mind the gap
Whilst the value in productivity gains, business process efficiencies, operational cost and customer service are measures that most organisations seek to quantify, this value can be undermined by poor user adoption, unreliable infrastructure and high cost of ownership. In order to mitigate these factors, organisations need to be able to continually measure the ROI - and more importantly the impact that change has upon ROI.

Businesses have problems identifying what the cause of this gap between actual and expected return of the mobile deployment is, and can be left in the dark, often aware that poor user adoption, infrastructure unreliability and the high cost of supporting change have eroded their ROI, but are unable to gain a granular view of the root causes behind this. In some instances information about the performance of mobile applications is available, but the ability to see how that performance correlates with usage patterns in the field, hardware or helpdesk performance or network coverage is non-existent. Even more difficult, but just as important, is the ability to perform cross-functional comparisons between groups, users or sites, or mapping information onto core mobile business processes such as proof of delivery or supply chain management. As more and more enterprises allow tablets and Smartphones to access corporate networks and data, so the importance of knowing exactly what’s occurring beyond the four walls increases.

Integrating ‘mobile and remote’ into ‘regular’ Business Intelligence (BI) has become a central facet of decision making within enterprises looking to gain competitive advantage through more informed decision-making. According to the IBM Global CIO Study 2009, 83 per cent of CIOs stated that they saw BI and analytics as key to improving competitiveness.

BI provides enterprises with the relevant information with which to make strategic decisions, by providing historical, current, and predictive views of business operations. This is usually achieved using software which identifies, extracts, and analyses business performance data such as adherence to workflows or sales revenues, and provides features such as online analytical processing, analytics, data processing, business performance management, benchmarking and predictive analysis.

According to business and IT analysts Quocirca: “Enterprises feel that mobility is a good thing, but lack the metrics to know why, where and how. They also lack the right tools to integrate ‘mobile and remote’ into ‘regular’ and this creates people and process management issues.”

As modern enterprises increasingly rely on the effectiveness of their mobile devices for business process efficiency, it is logical that they will require the same level of BI for their mobile operations, as they currently have for the rest of the business. Uncovering the intelligence from various device types, networks, applications and even users and presenting it in a way that enables informed decision making is generally beyond the scope of BI tools. Mobility Intelligence provides the ability to collect and process data drawn from and sent to mobile devices and blend it together with data from the other elements of the mobile ecosystem. This data can then be fed into BI tools to provide the truly holistic view of the enterprise and its processes.

Visibility of the mobile environment is especially vital for those in their second or third deployment of a mobile project as well as those opening their networks to non-corporately owned devices. These enterprises may have already ironed out many initial implementation and access problems but want to drill deeper into the barriers to ROI within the mobile environment. Visibility of the mobile environment also helps businesses to effectively expand both size and capability and to deliver new mobile-based products, services and solutions.

Like BI tools, a Mobility Intelligence platform allows enterprises to make business decisions based upon the projected impact of change and whether an improvement to the business process is possible.

Such intelligence reveals how the end-user interacts with mobile business processes, delivering insight into where and how the expected ROI has been eroded and providing greater confidence and substantiation for further investment in the mobile project.

Businesses tend to mobilise to help achieve key business objectives such as cutting costs, increasing efficiencies and improving customer service; factors which have major importance in these competitive times. Increasingly sophisticated technology has enabled enterprises to use these mobile devices to offer new products and services, streamline existing ones and improve their competitive positioning in
the market.

For example, if a freight carrier wanted to improve customer service levels by ensuring that vehicle turnaround times are as quick as possible, it could utilise Mobility Intelligence to track the performance of all vehicle turnaround times across the organisation.

Following on from this analysis, best practice in vehicle turnaround procedures can then be benchmarked and replicated across the entire organisation. New KPI’s and working practices can be introduced to ensure that all turnarounds happen as quickly as possible. Furthermore a Mobility Intelligence platform gives you the ability to continually test and analyse the impact of these changes ensuring continuous improvement.

Decision-making
It is therefore important that supply chain organisations have visibility of the interrelationships and correlations between the mobile ecosystem participants to provide a cross-functional and harmonised perspective. This cross-functional insight between the application, device, network, peripherals, help desk function and users provides opportunities for increased operational efficiencies, cost effectiveness and innovation.

Integrating Mobility Intelligence into BI enables agile decision-making; a key factor for competitive advantage. Senior executives are therefore able to make strategic decisions based upon high-quality data and visibility across the entire mobile enterprise. Improving the agility of the decision-making process will in turn improve the sustained competitiveness of the mobile enterprise. Mobility Intelligence is therefore vital to the successful harmonising of the progressive enterprise.

Julie Purves
Julie Purves founded B2M Solutions in 2002 and has over 14 years experience of working in the mobile enterprise sector. Prior to setting up B2M, Julie was programme and project manager at Intermec, overseeing the largest global deployment of GSM-based mobile applications for a major UK parcel carrier and also established the major project capabilities for Intermec’s mobile solutions delivery across EMEA.

B2M Solutions
B2M Solutions is a Mobility Intelligence specialist. The company works with partners including systems integrators, independent software vendors, managed service providers and mobile device manufacturers, in Europe and America to deliver innovative mobile solutions based on the mprodigy mobility intelligence and management platform, mprodigy. mprodigy has been architected from the outset to provide a scalable solution that adds value at every stage of the mobile product lifecycle, through the phases of planning, deployment and operations, to measuring and analysing and finally to optimising.

For more information visit: www.b2m-solutions.com