How can mobile improve your business’s operations?


In recent years, leveraging smart phones and other mobile devices for business applications has gained a lot of momentum — for a reason.

After some early and obvious wins, like using mobile for email and syncing employees’ calendars, many companies are now tackling more complex mobile projects that yield even greater value, like coordinating personnel, products and processes. As a result, a huge shift from the desktop to mobile is already well underway in many workplaces.

While most organizations’ leaders are aware that this mobile revolution is afoot, many of them are unsure how to answer the call to arms.

For the first time, a more client-focused form of computing is now radically challenging companies’ conventional methods of deploying IT solutions.

While mobile in the enterprise leads to greater productivity and profitability, it tests IT departments’ traditional sense of control. Companies are facing new challenges created by an increasing demand by mobile users for new apps and cloud computing capabilities.

Employees and key people in organizations now insist that they be able to do more work from their own mobile devices. So, how should companies adapt?

Did you know ?

62 %

According to a recent study by comScore, 62% of all Canadians now have a smartphone. This level of mobile adoption puts Canada ahead of the United States and just behind leading countries like Spain and England.

74 %

74% of companies using mobile reduced their cost of doing business and increased employee efficiency.

$12,500

A study conducted by Blackberry revealed that, on average, employees’ productivity increased by one hour per day through the use of a smartphone. In monetary terms, on an average yearly salary of $100,000, it provided yearly benefit of $12,500 per user to the company.

Typically, smartphone users are young, university-educated and have higher incomes. If your company has a large number of this type of employee, mobile is likely to be a good bet.

By allowing your employees to work on mobile devices and supplying them with the appropriate software and tools, you gain a lot in productivity. In fact, by freeing employees from their traditional workstations (seated in front of a computer screen and using a keyboard and a mouse), you give them access to a wider range of ways to work that may be better suited to their roles, personalities and skillsets.

With mobile, more work leveraging your IT systems can be done in real time — at the right time, from the right location and without any of the inherent delays and limitations that arise in a more traditional work setting.


How to identify quick wins?

As with any project with a high level of innovation, it’s essential for business leaders to seek quick wins. For a mobile enterprise project, they must:

  • Get a return on investment within the first year
  • Have positive metrics for their key performance indicators
  • Limit the impact on staff and operations
  • Ensure that it’s a lasting solution
  • Manage the solution post-launch

The fastest and most easily identifiable wins generally involve streamlining existing business processes.

Here are some examples :

  • Data entry. Taking notes or filling out hardcopy forms that must be re-keyed into the computer system. Entering data on a smartphone or tablet allows better control of the information. The data is entered at the source by the most appropriate person and copy errors are reduced.
  • Information sharing between team members. Text messages and e-mails are not always sufficient or ideal for collaborating. Several members on a team may have to modify a file simultaneously, comment images, review a history or track orders.
  • Notifications. Often, traditional communication channels are muddled and not ideal for assigning an individual to a new task. Until now, people have relied on emails and calendar alerts but mobile apps’ push notifications allow these alerts to take place in context. At a critical moment, how do you direct a medical doctor to the right hospital ward? In the past, an administrative assistant might have left the doctor a voice mail. This is cumbersome, expensive and untraceable.

Companies with many employees or with staff across locations such as hotels, insurance firms, banks, malls, real estate and others are seeing phenomenal gains in their everyday processes by deploying mobile solutions and leveraging capabilities such as always-on internet access, portability, geolocation and notifications.

What’s driving mobile in the enterprise?

  • The advent of mobile devices that offer attractive features and rich experiences
  • Always-on, high-speed Internet access
  • A rich ecosystem of powerful and affordable apps
  • A growing bring-your-own-device (BYOD) culture that has significantly reduced the costs of acquisition and adoption
  • Rapidly evolving consumer expectations
  • Robust security mechanisms
  • Visible qualitative and quantitative benefits for users
  • Quick and economical development times
  • Increased productivity and greater employee satisfaction
  • A young and contemporary brand image
  • Increased efficiency and accuracy

How much does a mobile app cost?

Developing a mobile solution can vary greatly from one application to another. It’s impossible for software developers to quote a price for building an app without knowing its exact scope. However, there are some ballpark figures to keep in mind.

Assuming that the mobile app must be of a professional-grade, easy-to-use, meet industry standards and that the organization has no internal mobile developers to rely on, decision-makers have two options :

  1. Assemble a team of designers and software engineers
  2. Hire a firm that can deliver turnkey solutions

Manage your own project

While markets vary, an experienced mobile software developer usually charges between $75 and $150 per hour. Obviously, the scale and complexity of a project can influence these rates.

A mobile designer will charge $50 to $125 per hour, again depending on the market.

A company will also have to hire an experienced product manager who can specify the solution architecture and oversee quality assurance. These professionals cost between $75 and $250 per hour, depending on their training, experience and portfolios. The more intricate and complex an organization’s legacy systems are, the more expensive it will be to fill a product manager position with a qualified individual.

In addition, a multitude of other resources are also needed to deliver a quality product. Quality assurance, user testing, copywriting, and translation are essential assets to a product’s success and adoption.

In the end, the most difficult challenge to overcome in developing a mobile app in this way is teamwork — getting these independent contractors to work together while limiting costs overruns, delays and, most of all, ensuring continuity.

What happens when a freelancer suddenly disappears in the middle of the project? Or, what if an inexperienced employee’s work is simply subpar?


Trust the professionals

Since the field is so new, the vast majority of companies don’t have any real expertise in mobile enterprise. While managing a fleet of mobile devices is one thing, designing, developing and deploying a high quality mobile app is another.

Small, agile teams of software developers have managed to create breakthrough apps, like Evernote, Flipboard, and Dropbox, and have become significant mobile players. These mobile enterprise success stories were built from scratch by a small group of senior IT talent with a very narrow scope and few constraints (human resources, legacy systems, etc.).

This new model is yielding the best results: entrusting a small, experienced tight-knit team to innovate for you according to your objectives. It’s a compromise between hiring a mobile department internally (which could take a long time and be very costly) and relying on a disparate crew of freelancers (which may not hold together for very long).

In the end, the cost of building a mobile app will always vary depending on its scope and complexity. However, given the advancement of modern technologies, mobile projects are much less costly and lengthy than traditional IT projects. Any firm initiating its first mobile projects should not allocate more than 3–6 months for a well-scoped mobile application, and a five-digit budget.


Conclusion

In 2015, businesses need to understand the power mobility can have on daily business operations and take action. Implementing a mobile strategy will enable your firm to reduce operating costs, reduce errors, improve communication, and increase employee efficiency. Several businesses have capitalized on this idea and have promoted a BYOD culture, which led to direct gain in productivity and greater employee satisfaction. Giving your associates access to an array of ways to work will help fit their personalities, skillsets and roles within the organization.

Define your company’s objectives and success metrics, establish a budget and timeline, and trust a small and experienced team of mobile experts to bring your projects to life.


Inspiration and case studies

Discover how PepsiCo dramatically improved its shipping and distribution process using tablets. http://www.apple.com/ca/ipad/business/profiles/pepsico/

See how mobile helps Hyatt Hotels and Resort event management and front desk teams in their daily operations.
http://www.apple.com/ca/ipad/business/profiles/hyatt-hotels/

The implementation of mobile brought global engineering and construction firm Bechtel’s “better quality, better productivity, and a reduction in costs.”
http://www.apple.com/ca/ipad/business/profiles/bechtel/


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