Sunday, May 17, 2009

Enterprise Mobility

We, at Endeavour, are involved in helping various enterprises leverage mobility at various levels. Based on various earlier instances and our findings, some case studies, and points discussed with Avinash M, I have put up following brief write-up.

Enterprise Mobility is the ability for an enterprise to communicate with suppliers, partners, employees, assets, products, and customers irrespective of location. In past 2-3 years, enterprise has become the most important need for the enterprises. Regardless of size (small, medium or large), all enterprises are willing to invest in leveraging the benefits of enterprise mobility. Several years ago the birth of personal computers gave the birth to today’s multi-billion dollar software industry! With today’s smart phones and advanced mobile gadgets, we are seeing the increasing demand for enterprise mobility.

According to a Forrester survey report, in general, mobility requires firms to build solutions that span devices, networks, and applications. After several fits and starts, mobility is gaining steam, consuming nearly one-third of North American and European enterprise telecom budgets today. Firms have embraced mobile email and plan to extend this capability to more employees within the organization. Advanced firms are moving line-of-business applications like inventory management and sales force automation to handhelds today. The greatest shift in the mobility market over the next three years will be the move to line-of-business and unified communications applications on handhelds to drive business process acceleration.

What is causing this up-rise demand?
Companies are embracing mobility to increase employee productivity, improve customer responsiveness, and ensure data protection for regulatory compliance. Almost half of the North American and European enterprises surveyed in Q1 2007 by Forrester rated setting an enterprise mobility policy and strategy as a critical or very important telecom technology-related initiative in 2007. Mobile voice and data spending accounts for 29% of these firms’ budgets, and at least 54% plan to increase spending on mobile voice and data in 2009.

With feature rich mobile devices and Smartphone like BlackBerry and iPhones, there is an explicit boost to the consumer mobility; but a larger implicit boost to mobile enterprise software. The general trends in the enterprises is to embrace the line-of-business of apps. Roughly around 10-20% workforce today have embraced to the usage of Smartphone for day to day emailing and calendaring activities. With increasing usage, applications such as CRM. More and more enterprises are pushing forward to mobilize the business processes and that involves mobilizing more and more applications. In the global connected world scenario, more and more people are adopting for the unified communication mechanism with the use of mobile technology. Enterprises are in constant lookout for the solutions that help manage the multi-platform world.

Telecom industry is fueling this growth by offering more flexibility by offering broadband and voice bundles. The attempt is to move the mobility beyond just the access to data by pitching in for unified communications solutions.
Trends and opportunities
We at Endeavour have seen many small, medium as well as large enterprises leveraging the enterprise mobility. Regardless of size, many organizations have adopted mobility for their primary and secondary business processes. The enterprises that have used mobility in their support processes have found increased productivity to support the primary processes. The enterprises that have implemented mobility in the mainstream business process applications have seen considerable benefits and increased profit by means of increased productivity across their line of business. Almost every vertical and domain has seen upward growth after embracing to mobility.

The sales and Distribution industry has mobility at most. For their inventory tracking, asset management, sale and ordering, delivering processes, they utilize the PDA based apps. That brings them more rewards in terms of profitability by avoiding delays and wastages. Online connected mobile apps to order products, transfer inventory are most popular ones! The supply chain management, demand and forecasting also uses mobility widely for their day to day activities. More precise reporting and alerts and or monitoring of the situations is another area that leverages mobility. The marketing and PR companies have also been using the mobility in their day to day processes. They use various survey and analysis applications (either readily available or customized to their needs.). The enterprises in healthcare industry are also seen ripping the fruits of their mobility initiatives. Ranging from the appointment tracker kind of applications to self learning personalized virtual coach applications are being widely accepted in the organizations. Most of the companies are taking initiatives to use mobile applications for their work force that help them keep track of health records and stay on top of it. The mini map of the PHR and EHR (personal health records and electronic health records) are most popular applications among the corporate work force and hence being promoted by enterprises to increase the productivity indirectly.

Many other verticals such as automotive, finance, banking, entertainment etc are also utilizing the mobility for their primary business processes as well as secondary business processes.

How Endeavour is helping?
We at Endeavour are helping the enterprises to use mobility at its best to increase their productivity and profitability. We help them mobilize end to end – that includes

  1. assessing the opportunities or areas that can be mobilized for the said enterprise,
  2. build a vision and road map for them to leverage mobility at its best and
  3. execute the roadmap.

Thus being an end to end mobility company, we help our customers realize the areas of mobilization. With respect to the verticals that they are operating and the competitive landscape they are operating, we conduct the study and come up with a detailed roadmap. We help build the mobility solution and obtain over all buy-in from the workforce.

Mobility opportunity assessment includes overall feasibility study, stock of the current processes and expenses, benefits that may be ripped upon implementing mobility at enterprise level, the cost that may be incurred during the roadmap and so on. Based on the needs and nature of the roadmap we do suggest he best platforms and best approach that suits their needs and wants. Unlike any other projects, the mobility project includes close interaction and personalized experience for the work force that is ultimately going to use them. Hence we involve all major stakeholders in the process of opportunity assessment as well as overall implementation.

Cost to implement Enterprise Mobility
Depending on the verticals and the nature/ size of the enterprise, the cost of the mobilization can be realized. Though there are several other parameters such as mobile platforms, areas to be mobilized etc, in general the cost can be predicted based on the three steps at which Endeavour helps its customers. In general, the three stages described above involves the about 30% of the cost for first two stages and the rest for execution and implementation. The total expenses could be as low as 5,000 USD to multi-year , multi-device and solution for global corporations at 500,000 USD or more.

There are several factors that affect the cost in general. They include the number of business processes and its parts in total processes to be mobilized, range of platforms/ devices to be supported, target workforce size, complexity of the processes, extended interfaces with other internal or external processes.

The cost is affected by –
  • Choice of platforms and device type – ruggedized Vs sophisticated devices/ terminals, specialized – custom hardware needs if any
  • Number of peripheral devices such as printers, Bluetooth glucose-meters, attached accessories, etc
  • The size of deployment – number of users
  • Scope of mobility – internal, external, within the enterprise or the extended enterprise
  • Complexity of the processes and overall solution
  • System integration needs – stand alone apps Vs integrated solution
  • External & internal interfaces – back end, external systems etc
  • Need for upgrades and deployment robustness, downtime and responsiveness
  • Connectivity – full time connected or offline or intermittently connected
  • Level of support needed

Based on all the above parameters and stages discussed earlier, the cost for the enterprise mobility can be reached at.