Crafting an effective enterprise mobility

CIOL Bureau
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Enterprise mobility is not a new concept— most businesses have been running

some sort of mobilized business processes for years now. The most established

ones are typically found in warehouses or logistics departments such as shippers

and receivers on the docks quickly scanning materials in and out of inventory.

Early innovators proved the value of mobile solutions, yielding benefits in cost

savings, customer satisfaction, supply chain flexibility, and even revenue

generation. But these early adopters also shared some challenges.


Enterprises deploying at the dawn of enterprise mobility had to become

experts themselves to get a mobile solution up and running.  The scenarios

deployed were all custom-built and custom-maintained (think of UPS drivers with

their custom mobile tablets). The costs to deploy a solution were high. Today,

the mobile space has changed considerably. For some functions, market adoption

is so great that mobile capabilities are a competitive necessity rather than a

competitive edge. This pervasiveness brings opportunities for standard mobility

solution offerings, wider reach, and reduced costs of deployment. In other

words, it's no longer inevitable that implementing a mobile solution will

require in-house expertise or deployment resources that normally accompany a

one-off solution. Standard solutions, with minimal customization, can achieve

the same goals with lower costs when it comes to deployment and long-term

maintenance. This article offers a framework for evaluating your mobile solution

needs, and highlights a practical approach to enterprise mobility for ERP.

Customers can leverage their existing ERP infrastructure, lower integration

costs, and still meet very specific mobile technology goals.

Considering the Three Types of Mobile Solutions

Many companies make the mistake of taking a reactive approach to new mobile
requirements as they see a need. For example, the service management line of

business manager needs to enable all his service engineers with a mobile

solution to replace their outdated paper processes and increase the

organization's employee utilization, so they choose and deploy one of many

mobile enterprise solutions. But if every new mobile scenario requires a custom

solution, your enterprise is facing some big infrastructure and maintenance

headaches. Without understanding the complete picture, you could implement a

mobile solution that cannot easily extend to meet the enterprise mobility needs

of your entire organization. This could be a costly mistake if, for example, you

were to have multiple middleware servers each supporting their own custom mobile


A more strategic view of mobile solutions looks for common elements across a

mobile solution set, which you could leverage for your industry or for employees

in a particular user group. With this approach, you would consider the category

of mobile functionality:

  • Functional mobile solutions, for tasks shared by a specific group

    of users
    : These include solutions for a particular team of users,

    such as salespeople or serviceStandard Solutions Covering the Range of Enterprise Functions are Available Today

    teams out in the field.
  • Horizontal mobile solutions, for more general uses across a

    : These include expense reporting solutions such as time or

    travel management, or “casual use” scenarios such as key performance

    indicator reporting, or the ability to approve workflows on the fly.
  • Industry mobile solutions, for a specific industry: Some

    industries today require mobility for employees to do their jobs.

    Manufacturers in the consumer package goods (CPG) industry, for example,

    might require a mobile direct store delivery solution so that they can

    deliver products on demand directly to retail stores, priced accordingly and

    based on actual onsite consumption, in real time.
  • Functional scenarios attend to the needs of a particular group of

    users across industries but with a common function, and they frequently are

    among the most mission-critical tasks. Here, a single scenario can cover a

    lot of ground.
    For example, the typical mobile service scenario

    encompasses internal and external customer service and plant maintenance,

    but could support a variety of users, including sales representatives,

    service representatives, internal field engineers, and external service

  • Horizontal mobile scenarios usually serve a common business need

    that is felt across a wide range of roles and that can apply to almost any

    An example is time and travel management, which aims to

    significantly reduce organizations' travel expenditures through

    implementation of an electronic travel policy. When this solution is used in

    an industry such as professional services, it can also ensure faster billing

    cycles, reduced errors, and quicker turnaround of expense claims.
  • Industry mobile solutions can be considered “killer”

    applications within their respective industries.

    For example, the pharmaceutical industry sales force has some

    unique needs: Sales representatives maintain an electronic inventory of the

    drug samples they provide to medical practices and institutions. Upon

    delivery, sales representatives must capture a signature. A mobile solution

    customized for this industry enables all this to occur electronically.

But How to Apply?

You can start by evaluating your ERP mobility requirements based on three key

Do I need mobile functionality that is purely industry-focused?


Do I need a mobile solution that is role-focused, and if so, how many user

roles might my organization want to deploy?

Are there common elements across a horizontal or functional solution that

would apply to my industry?

Your answers to these questions should assist you in avoiding unnecessary

complexity and duplication in your ERP mobility strategy. For decades, ERP

vendors have been empowering businesses of all sizes with a family of adaptive

business solutions, providing best-of-breed functionality built for complete

integration, industry-specific functionality, unlimited scalability, and easy

collaboration over the Internet.

The mobile marketplace has come a long way, and while it can be a challenging

space, it can yield great benefits. Armed with the understanding of your

opportunities and pitfalls when it comes to custom-built and customized

solutions, you can make an informed decision about how and when standard

solutions can suit your enterprise mobility needs.

Ravi Subramanyam, CEO, MobileOne