• Digital Transformation  |  ERP Systems  | 
  • 4 Min Read
  • How a Mobile-First Strategy is Influencing Digital Supply Chain Transformation

    Robert Brice

    Written by Robert Brice
    Thu, Oct 31, 2019

    Supply chain mobility connects and empowers your workforce with real-time data.
    Supply chain mobility connects and empowers your workforce with real-time data.

    What is it that puts your head and shoulders above your competition? Is it your exceptional customer service? On-time deliveries and order accuracy? Perhaps it’s the relationships you’ve built with your customer base over the years.

    All it takes is for one of these elements to slip for you to fall below the high standards of the competition. Driving these standards is the increasing focus on digital transformation in the supply chain. While this remains an emphasis, one critical aspect that is often overlooked is enterprise mobility.

    Enterprise mobility for the supply chain, or supply chain mobility, extends digital business systems onto wireless handheld devices. Employees can use mobile barcoding to automatically capture data with perfect accuracy and digitally automate manual processes.

    Why shift focus to a mobile-first strategy in the digital supply chain? Here are several key reasons why:

    Transforming Your Supply Chain Business

    Your IT department is making a push toward landscape simplification for business systems, eliminating technical patchwork and simplifying the internal technology stack. But key platforms like your ERP exist in isolation from workers out on the floor. Don’t just digitalize the core systems. Use ERP mobility to extend the power of that ERP into the hands of your team, bringing all aspects of your operation into a unified ecosystem.

    A core function of ERP mobility is capturing data from barcodes at point-of-work using a mobile data collection app. This bypasses manual and paper processes while minimizing chances of human error. Accurate, high quality data is necessary for decision-making, forecasting and tracking trends and metrics.

    Stopping short of mobilizing core supply chain processes, such as mobile data collection, can lead to hidden barriers and inefficiencies at the line level. A mobile-first strategy ensures accurate data capture and flexibility to operate where needed, maximizing the effectiveness, productivity and visibility for warehouse, manufacturing, distribution and field services operations.

    Future Proofing with Supply Chain Mobility

    That smart phone you carry around in your pocket is an incredibly powerful tool. No doubt you use it for everything from a simple phone conversation to carrying out personal banking. If this is where we are now with mobile technology, imagine where we’re going to be in 20-years’ time.

    Unlike consumer devices, wireless handhelds purpose-built for supply chain mobility are made to last. Manufacturers like Zebra and Honeywell make it easy for enterprise users to maintain and upgrade Android and Windows operating systems for years to come. Whereas consumer devices must be replaced every 2-3 years, enterprise devices can operate for more than double that lifespan, if not longer.

    Mobile software like the RFgen’s Mobile Unity Platform™ is device agnostic and can run cross-platform. Users receive the opportunity to upgrade whenever they want and may continue developing the environment in-house, enabling them to use that same solution indefinitely.

    Now is the time to embrace mobile technology and harness its future-proofing capabilities extend digital supply chain transformation to your workforce.

    Read More: Hardware 101: A Definitive Crash Course in Enterprise Mobility »

    Connecting and Informing Your Business

    One of the most powerful benefits of a mobility-first supply chain is how it connects your disparate business systems. Maybe you have a robust ERP to track materials as it travels through various warehousing workflows. The problem is, the ERP’s inventory database doesn’t know where the inventory actually is or when transactions are taking place until someone manually enters that data into the system.

    Perhaps the clerk or manager inputting the data must read and interpret someone else’s handwriting to do this. Maybe the information is wrong or out of date. Chances are, another member of the organization uses that incorrect data to make an important business choice. A pallet of much-needed stock could be sitting on the receiving dock while the pickers are wasting hours searching for that stock – only they don’t know it's actually there!

    A digital supply chain transformation barcoding solution can help here, creating systems for automated data collection and mobile inventory that tracks and transacts in real time, wherever employees work. The ERP knows exactly when and where inventory moves and how much is available. Other team members checking in on that data will find its accurate and reliable.

    An ERP mobile solution can also connect this data to other business systems as well, tying crucial elements of an entire stack into one holistic environment.

    Streamlining Supply Chain Workflows

    Mobility solutions automate manual processes, drastically accelerating basic inventory transactions.
    Mobility solutions automate manual processes, drastically accelerating basic inventory transactions.

    Mobility isn’t just about using mobile hardware to scan inventory barcodes. Mobile barcoding solutions that also include ERP-integrated inventory software can automate manual processes for receiving, issuing, transferring, picking and more. Information collected from each handheld is communicated to your ERP database, updating your core system as each transaction takes place.

    Automating line-level processes is an ideal way to generate efficiency and speed gains at the bottom level. Benefits travel upward and downstream to positively impact other parts of your business – all because you optimized very basic processes.

    As companies look to transition from on-premise ERP platforms to cloud-based deployments, organizations are confronting the specter of forced process standardization. This could be problematic for workflows that are complicated. Zero footprint ERP mobility software can preserve complex business processes that would otherwise be lost when making the transition to cloud.

    The big picture benefit of using supply chain automation solutions is its scalability. Being able to scale automation and mobility across multiple facilities enables a bottom-up digital transformation in cornerstone supply chain processes.

    The Big Takeaway

    Research shows us that of all the almost 8-billion people who live on the planet, some 5-billion of us have mobile phones. Leverage this widespread knowledge to equip your workforce with an intuitive mobile technology that drives digital transformation from the foundation up.

    A mobile-first strategy empowers your organization to view mobilization as a central component to its digitization efforts, rather than an add-on or accessory. Integrating mobility into your existing digital infrastructure can then provide maximum benefits in accuracy, productivity, efficiency, visibility and throughput.

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