Monday, October 15, 2012

Enterprise Mobility, Risk Management and Remote Job Sites

This week I am at SAP's TechEd in Las Vegas.  Please give me a shout-out if you are here and would like to meet up and discuss mobile strategies!

I had the opportunity to spend time with a large international construction company last week.  This construction company does a lot of work in remote locations in Africa, the Middle East and in Latin America.  In fact, this construction company was the one that flew in drilling equipment that was used to rescue the 33 Chilean miners a few years ago.  They work on massive projects.  Projects that can involve hundreds of millions of dollars. 

The CIO of this large construction company shared with me that the secret to being successful at managing massive and remote projects is visibility and risk reduction.  Money can be lost very quickly on large projects, and if managers are not aware of the losses things can get out of control fast.

The CIO added that most construction companies couldn’t compete with them on large projects because they do not have the enabling infrastructure, processes and methodologies in place to handle the complexity and risk management.  He added that mobile solutions are a critical ingredient.

Large and remote projects often do not have communication infrastructure available, so the construction company must bring in their own.  They set-up communications, and then wirelessly connect all of their ERP and management systems to the remote job shack or trailer – sometimes in the middle of the jungle or desert.  Mobile devices are then used within these environments to manage operations via data collection, alerts, queries, and reports.

Visibility, and the speed in which managers have visibility to problems, is the determining factor to successful management in these environments.  Managers need to know about problems immediately so they could be fixed immediately or a Plan A can be switched to a Plan B or C.

The key take-a-ways from this conversation were the following:
  • Mobile solutions are required to effectively management remote job sites and operations.
  • The ability to effectively manage remote jobs requires real-time visibility via mobile solutions.
  • The inability to manage in real-time is a barrier to entry to many companies.  Mobile solutions, the right infrastructure, back-end systems and a faster operational tempo are competitive advantages.
  • Having the ability to communicate in real-time, collect, process, analyze and report on data quickly enables companies to reduce their risk exposure and take on larger projects.

Kevin Benedict, Head Analyst for SMAC (Social, MOBILE, Analytics and Cloud), Cognizant
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Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I am a mobility analyst, consultant and writer. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.