Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Mobile Forms, Mobile Applications & Mobile Business Processes

Our customers often follow a learning path when it comes to mobilizing their business. Let me identify several steps on this path:

  1. Mobile forms - replace paper forms with electronic forms on handheld computers, Tablet PCs or laptops.
  2. Evolve the electronic form to become a full mobile database application on a mobile computer
  3. Extend business processes out from the enterprise and into the mobile database applications.
  4. Replace many traditional communication methods (phone calls, faxes, web queries) with real time enterprise database queries from mobile database applications.

Let me walk you through a scenario -

  1. Step 1 - Company M wants to replace paper service orders with electronic service orders on a ruggedized handheld computer. In phase 1, they are content to pick up the handheld in the morning with pre-loaded service orders, and return the handheld device at night to synchronize the work they accomplished during the day. This saves a great deal of data input and mistakes by the office staff. It is a simple forms application.
  2. Step 2 - Company M decides they would gain a great deal of efficiencies if they could dispatch service orders during the day directly to the handheld computers, and synchronize the completed or pending service orders throughout the day. This requires a database application to run on the handheld for data storage and database synchronization. It also requires a wireless network card so you can synchronize data over the mobile phone networks, and a synchronization server to keep all handhelds synchronized with your internal enterprise databases.
  3. Step 3 - Extend business processes out to the mobile handheld device. Company M now wants to attach an inventory tracking process to their mobile service order application. When parts get used on a service call, they want the parts to be automatically removed from the inventory tracking software application in the office. This can easily be added to their mobile database application.
  4. Step 4 - Digital signatures are added to the service order application on the mobile device. Scheduling additional service calls can be added to the mobile device. Querying customer history can be added to the mobile database application. Credit card processing can be added tot he mobile much more.

In summary, most companies don't jump in and do everything that is possible in the first deployment of a mobile solution. There are phases, and an evolution of a mobile solution. MobileDataforce's mobile software platform enables companies to evolve on their own schedule, budget and learning curve.