​Driving growth through mobile devices

Latest research reveals that mobility is the second highest priority for manufacturing CIOs, with companies seeking new ways to address the key challenges in their industry, both now and in the years to come. Jo-Anne Ruhl reports.

With customers expecting faster turnarounds while constantly seeking lower prices, such demands are forcing manufacturers to innovate, improve efficiencies and become more agile in the way they adjust to market trends.

A key trend impacting not just manufacturing but all industries is the greater mobility of the workforce.

As organisations increasingly see the benefits of accessing real-time data, the ability to customise applications and the return on investment that mobile technology can offer, the potential for business-to-business organisations is now being realised.

Gartner’s annual survey of CIOs showed that mobility is the second highest priority of manufacturing CIOs in planning through to 2015 .

This new level of prioritisation is certainly warranted, as manufacturers seek new ways to address the key challenges in their industry, both now and in the years to come.

It is now clear how important it is to leverage the value of corporate information by making it accessible wherever teams need it. It is also vital to ensure that organisations can easily capture and update records so that operating data truly reflects the dynamic nature of the business.

Mobile devices play a key role in every part of the industry: from field sales, supply chain and logistics and even the manufacturing floor.

Mobility solutions not only help manufacturers improve their business processes but also helps meet customer expectations.

The focus of a good mobile strategy is to leverage existing back-end IT systems in a way that is easy to use for the end user.

Mobility, as an extension of the manufacturers’ enterprise software, will enable field workers to do all of their tasks while on the road. Completing sales orders and monitoring inventory on-the-go will enable them to move more efficiently from job to job.

Benefits of mobility

The main benefits manufacturing organisations expect from mobility are:

1) Productivity gains:

Mobility enables employees to work faster and more efficiently, increasing the productivity of the organisation. Mobility has not only allowed employees to work on the go, but has also improved productivity within the four walls of the organisation.

Organisations can develop customised apps for employees so they can share information on their mobile devices without them having to leave the shop floor to locate a desktop computer to look for the information they need.

Many IT vendors have specialised applications, engineered to take full advantage of mobile device capabilities. They can deliver mobile alerts, approvals, and tasks with embedded businesses intelligence that automatically focuses on valuable in-context information related to the work being done at any given moment. They also allow users to access graphs, charts, and critical information to help them act faster and work smarter.

2) Improvements in customer relations:

In simple terms, mobile technology drives deeper customer engagements.

Using mobility solutions, manufacturers can remain in regular touch with customers and receive feedback from these customers quickly. A seamlessly integrated communications platform helps uncover innovation opportunities, and also helps mitigate issues and changing market demands.

With the use of mobility solutions, manufactures remain connected with customers and maintain their complex operations easily and effectively. An improved quality of service in a timely manner is key to maintaining valuable relationships in a competitive environment.

3) Inventory management enhancements:

By using mobile apps to connect to backend systems, warehouses can view their inventory levels, sales orders, and other pertinent warehouse information in real-time. T

This is extremely beneficial to companies with multiple factories and offices, as users can view the operational needs in each location. Implementing mobile technology can ensure all operations flow smoothly.

Applications exist that allow mobile devices to scan barcodes and RFID tags. When connected to an ERP system, supply chain managers can get real-time information on the movement of materials, significantly reducing inventory costs for the company.

Mobile devices and apps can be a key enabler for the manufacturing industry which is seeking answers to ever increasing challenges. Now is the time for manufacturing organisations to seriously consider investing in mobility to make it a part of their overall business strategy.

[Jo-Anne Ruhl is General Manager Pacific with Infor].