Mobile enablement and the use of wireless technologies such as RFID and sensors is becoming ubiquitous in the supply chain. From managing the movement of inventory within a warehouse to providing real-time status updates, it is becoming a requirement to meet customer service expectations and raise the productivity of the workforce. Companies that are not considering adoption of these technologies could very well find themselves behind the competitiveness curve. Most intriguing, though, are expectations that users have for mobile technology to meet the challenges of the future. They plan on using it to better understand demand patterns, raise perfect-order rates, and reduce supply chain risk and complexity. This means that mobile technology will extend deeper into the organization, and no longer be for the exclusive use of the white-collar employee. We will also see machines being able to talk to other machines, creating a level of process automation that will far outperform human directed operations of today.
-John Fontanella, vice president of research, AMR Research
AMR Research finds that the majority of companies that have invested in mobile technologies did so with the goal of improving the customer experience and service delivery. The benefits that the technology can bring to the cost side of the equation are also compelling. Many companies report that the use of mobile devices has greatly improved their ability to reduce inventory and working capital requirements, as well as allow them to better track and manage asset utilization. Mobility has risen to such importance in corporations that many consider it a strategic element of their business plan, and plan its adoption at the corporate level. As you design your strategy, keep in mind the following points:
• Don't underestimate the cost and complexity of integrating data into enterprise systems. This will become one of the most challenging aspects of any mobility project, and should be guided by an overall enterprise integration strategy.
• Take a broad view on what functions in your company can use information collected with mobile technology. For example, data collected to meet the advanced shipment notification requirements of your customers is also of great value to your customer service, sales, and go-to market teams.
• The percentage of custom-developed mobile applications is much higher than enterprise applications overall. This indicates the unique uses individual companies are applying the technology too, as well as the limited availability of commercial off-the-shelf solutions in this sector. Make sure your organization has the skills to perform or manage an application development project.
• With mobile technology, we have an opportunity to automate highly repetitive activities that are now human directed and executed. The aim of any project should be to raise the level of process performance and integrity significantly through process automation.
Corporations will continue to aggressively invest in mobility. Laptop computers, PDAs and mobile phones are the predominant choice for a mobile device today, but users of the technology told us that they either are or soon will be experimenting with tablet computers, sensors, telematics and in-vehicle devices, and other mobile computing devices that are often purpose-built to accomplish a particular task. Almost half of respondents to a recent AMR survey who are currently using mobile technologies will increase their investment in it for the next year. The surge in adoption will cause large enterprise application vendors to re-evaluate their own integration strategies for data collected by mobile and wireless devices. Expect your ERP or best-of-breed vendor to offer new products and services in the coming year.
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