Mobile technology permeates all aspects of our lives, both personal and professional. Workers accustomed to their devices at home are more engaged at work when familiar technology is implemented, prompting businesses across industries to prioritize a mobile-first approach in supply chain management.
Employers have found that workers such as delivery drivers, warehouse staff and agricultural employees who adopt mobile technology into their daily workflows are able to perform much of their jobs on the go, improving productivity and convenience. Operations throughout the supply chain improve as a result, including asset tracking, shipments, warehouse productivity and last-mile delivery.
Incorporating contextualization into a company’s mobile technology strategy adds another vital layer of optimization, allowing employers to improve safety and compliance while reaping the benefits of mobile tech.
According to a report by Gartner Inc. on recent supply chain trends, "As recovery from the pandemic continues, CEOs see digitalization as key to shaping business opportunity in the decade ahead." Seventy-nine percent of supply chain leaders surveyed said they believe the most critical business model for post-pandemic recovery is an internet- or platform-based approach. Mobile devices are key to this model.
Mobility solutions support a dynamic range of work, but many of the tools used to manage those devices are still based on dated, purpose-built technology. Contextual mobility management embraces the reality that workers’ environments are fluid and thus require dynamic oversight. It allows companies to manage employees’ access to devices based on factors such as location, time of day or movement, limiting access when the environment is deemed unsafe to use the device — for instance, when the user is operating a vehicle. As a result, employers can ensure their devices are being used within company guidelines, improving both productivity and employee safety.
Companies investing in these tools gain a competitive advantage by improving operations, increasing safety and compliance, and more faithfully adhering to customer requirements, such as avoiding devices while at a customer site.
Paper Transport, Inc., a for-hire truckload operator of 900 power units and 3,200 trailers, has seen success with this model. After running proprietary, in-cab technology for years, the company was looking to improve driver engagement by replacing outdated hardware with newer, more advanced solutions, including tablet devices, in-cab cameras and telematics. Migrating to a new platform allowed it to incorporate contextually managed mobile apps into the operation of the vehicles, improving the overall management of deliveries. Each driver’s device usage was monitored using the new technology, limiting access when usage was deemed inappropriate. For example, when a vehicle was in motion, devices only offered navigation, hours of service and weigh-station bypass functions. Once the vehicle was stopped, a driver's device automatically reverted to full functionality. Among other safety benefits, managing device permissions dynamically and on a per-user basis helped Paper Transport's drivers adhere to the hands-free corporate policy for phone use.
A 2020 IDG survey of supply chain leaders found that among the technologies that respondents deemed necessary to manage unforeseen supply chain disruptions, mobile solutions ranked third, behind only risk management and artificial intelligence. As evidenced by the survey, businesses that prioritize mobility in their technology strategy will prove the most resilient in the face of supply chain disruptions.
The technology powering global supply chains is more important than ever. As supply chains struggled at the height of the pandemic, mobility saved certain businesses from collapse by keeping operations moving and teams engaged. Mobility not only protects businesses heading toward an unstable future, but offers exciting opportunities for the workforce of the future.
Joe Boyle is chief executive officer of Truce Software.
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