Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Enterprise Mobility Application Predictions

In recent years the focus of enterprise mobility has been on device support, UX and the novelty of spinning wheels, swiping screens and supporting various keyboard designs in mobile UIs.  I believe the novelty of this will soon wear off with the introduction of more standards, policies, HTML5, etc, and the focus will again turn to developing increasingly valuable mobile applications that are user-specific.

One of the Mobility Experts that I interviewed earlier this year advised that mobile application designers should NOT start from the perspective of what can an ERP extend to the mobile workforce, but rather what can mobile technologies offer the mobile workforce.  What does the mobile workforce need, in the field, to more effectively deliver on their mission/assignment?

If the mobile workforce is the center of the universe, rather than the ERP, then there will be different priorities.  The mobile workforce may need mobile applications that are not part of the ERP, and are a mash-up of various web services that together provide unique benefit for the mobile worker and the company.  Here is a scenario to consider:

A field services technician needs to order parts and have these parts delivered before repairs can be completed on a piece of equipment.  What would be useful information for this mobile field service technician?
  • Which vendor has these parts in stock?What are the prices?  How can you get approval to order?
  • When can the parts be delivered?
  • How can these parts be purchased?
  • Is there a customer account number to use?
  • Do we have a discount plan with the vendor?
  • Who in the company is certified to install the parts?
  • Who is available to install the parts when they arrive?
  • Who will notify the customer when the repair will be complete?
The answers to the above questions would be very useful to the field services technician.  There are many scenarios like this that would benefit the mobile workforce, but are often overlooked by those inside the four walls of the enterprise.

What do you think?

Kevin Benedict, Independent Mobile and M2M Industry Analyst, SAP Mentor Volunteer
Follow me on Twitter @krbenedict
Full Disclosure: I am an independent mobility analyst, consultant and blogger. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.