by Purushottam Darshankar
To win in today’s competitive world, businesses are finding new ways to optimize the business process, shorten cycle times and empower the employees to better serve their customers by deploying mobile technologies. This enables greater supply chain efficiencies and accuracy thereby increasing the operating margins and greater customer satisfaction.
Although some enterprises are considering the widespread adoption of mobility solution, the evidence suggests that enterprise adopt a low risk strategy and focus on solutions which have proven ROI. The main inhibitors of enterprise mobility deployment are (source: Telsyte, 2008)
- Integration with existing IT systems & solutions
- Understanding the future of mobile technology
- Cost / ROI / business case justification
- Mobile network / carrier selection
- Ongoing management / maintenance
- Security concerns
- Business process reengineering & realignment
- Mobile device selection
- Lack of organizational capability
- Mobile application vendor selection
The benefits of mobility solution is immense, however realizing its full potential can introduce a significant IT challenge. Today’s enterprise mobility solutions are connected to backend system using ad –hoc system and management of this complex system is important. Management of these deployments is usually an afterthought, if not addressed properly, may result into increased deployment and support cost, under performing systems, increased organizational risks.
A standard enterprise mobility deployment may include several hundred mobile devices, access points and backend technologies – complexity of these environments make the device and network rollouts, updates / maintenance and support more difficult. Existing network management tools available in market lack in dealing with roaming devices, intermittent network connectivity and wireless security.
Ensuring the uniformity of software versions on mobile devices across hundreds of devices, provisioning and configuration of mobile devices and wireless network is of paramount importance. Proper version control of application, OS and firmware is necessary using OTA push to keep the mobile workers up-to-date with latest application and updates.
The trained technical staff to support the mobility solution is as important as the solution itself. However, hands-on technical staff required to support large-scale enterprise deployments is expensive, both in the number of and the cost per technician. The ability to support remote diagnostics and remote problem resolution is critical. Integrated management tool is required to respond to the problems encountered by field worker with their mobile devices.
A mobile device inherently has limited processing power, battery life and memory which makes collection and processing of field data difficult. The intermittent connectivity and bandwidth limitation compound this problem. This makes the data synchronization with enterprise database a complex procedure. The alternative ways of data synchronization either over USB cable or Bluetooth should be made available to avoid loss of data.
The enterprise mobility is still dogged by security concerns. Remotely locking of lost or stolen devices to restrict access to data and device functionality is must if data is sensitive. The recovered devices again need to be unlocked for continued usage quickly to avoid loss of productivity.
The enterprise mobility solution should not be developed considering specific operating system and device in mind. The solution should provide flexibility to add new devices with minimal changes in application and its provisioning. If multiple devices with a variety of operating system and screen size are being used by field force, the system should posses the inventory of such devices for better technical support.
The IT department should be capable of supporting different peripheral devices such as RFID, barcode, camera, GPS, printers and other data collection accessories used by field force. The IT department should keep the necessary spares coupled with well laid procedures of logging support/repair calls for replacements/repairs of devices and accessories. After all, it is the IT department that is likely to own the company’s mobility roadmap and is responsible for technical aspects of mobility deployment. As with other IT projects, it is important that organizations have a “buy in” from top executives to ensure the success of enterprise mobility deployment.