As supply chain companies continue to adopt and benefit from enterprise mobility initiatives, the need for developing cohesive strategies to manage these efforts is critical to avoiding failure and maximizing your technology investment.
Creating a unifying strategy to accommodate the inevitable shift toward mobility in the warehouse and on the shop floor will help IT teams avoid a patchwork approach to mobile technologies. With a plan in place, your operation can avoid racking up an unnecessarily complicated tech environment that drives up budget and manpower needed to maintain an interconnected framework.
For introducing enterprise mobility into your operation, the risks associated with not having a strategy in place are numerous and unpredictable.
That said, here are tips for developing your strategy to get the most out of your investment dollars:
Not too long ago, the BYOD approach to handling mobile devices was all the buzz. However, in supply chain operations, BYOD had little impact. Since then, practices such as MDM (mobile device management) and the more modern EMM (enterprise mobility management) have taken hold, among others.
Regardless of which methodology you plan to use, note that these approaches go beyond just managing the hardware devices themselves. Instead, they take into account management of security, accessibility and deployment.
Therefore, a mobile platform that allows you to manage devices, users and data access without impacting your ERP environment or creating new security vulnerabilities will be ideal.
Another common challenge among smaller IT teams supporting large organizations is that developing, modifying and deploying mobile apps takes too much time and costs too much money.
The RFgen Mobile Unity Platform™ provides a built-in MADP (mobile application development platform) that empowers small IT teams with the tools to build, modify and deploy mobile apps quickly, remotely and securely. This way, apps that are intuitive, simple to learn and easy to operate for end-users can be updated or developed once, then deployed everywhere with significantly less time and effort than doing so independently.
Deciding what mobile OS to use on your enterprise mobile devices can be a daunting choice for IT. With the sunset of Windows mobile operating systems, such as certain versions of Windows CE, Windows Embedded Handheld and Windows Mobile (“Windows Phone”), even Microsoft is advising its users to make the leap to the Android OS.
Although Apple’s iOS retains a sizeable chunk of enterprise mobility market share for many industries, for the supply chain, Android is the logical choice. Not only has Android grown significantly in market share over the last five years, but most of the mobile hardware used in the supply chain runs on Android OS.
Hardware manufacturers like Honeywell and Zebra both offer Android-powered mobile devices purpose-built for the enterprise, such as ruggedized and ultra-rugged barcode scanners, with support services to ensure your hardware continues to run for years to come.
Additionally, all-in-one solutions providers like RFgen can equip your teams with the latest hardware, as well as mobile software that future-proofs your technology investment even longer.
Avoiding a fragmented or piecemeal “patchwork” approach to enterprise mobility adoption is essential for effective support during and after implementation. Instead of seeking out separate providers for consultation, another for hardware, and yet another for mobile software, a holistic vendor can deliver all of this in one.
A one-stop-shop solutions provider can also offer support and guidance to help you get the most out of the mobility solution that works best for your enterprise. Such providers are able to guide you through each stage of the mobility lifecycle, from analysis of supply chain processes to device selection and post-implementation support.
Vendors like RFgen provide a holistic solution that encompasses mobile hardware, software, specialized knowledge and experience, and third-party partnerships, such as with Loftware and BarTender barcode labeling software. With the expertise and resources of a “total solution” vendor to support transition process, assessment, implementation and rollout becomes easier, faster and more predictable.
While enterprise mobility technology can support your company’s efforts to conduct more efficient business management, cost is also a concern. Dedicate time to researching potential solutions so your team can evaluate whether the benefits will outweigh the cost of the new technology implementation.
Calculating ROI (return on investment) can be a complicated process. Vendors can help guide you through the process of identifying inefficient warehouse processes and how mobilization and automation can cut operating costs while increasing productivity and throughput.
Lastly, a common pitfall in strategy planning comes from the lack of alignment between departments with a stake in enterprise mobility initiatives. Aligning IT, leadership, finance and operations to research and plan an effective mobile strategy will help minimize risk of failure and unforeseen complications, contributing to the strategy’s overall success.
Taking a siloed approach that blocks out one or more of these departments could mean you aren’t getting the whole picture about what problem your mobility solution will solve. For example, not involving key members of the operations team who will be using the technology could mean their challenges aren't streamlined or the technology doesn’t “take” with warehouse team. Likewise, stakeholders from finance can offer insight into total cost of ownership and return on investment.
Integrating mobile technologies into your business strategies doesn’t mean you have break the bank. Having a well-honed strategy in place, however, can greatly reduce wasted cost and effort, particularly when all involved departments are aligned, ensuring you receive an ideal total cost of ownership with a worthwhile ROI—and, of course, a great outcome.
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