Corporate mobile technologies

It’s amazing how quickly things change. Just a few years ago, enterprise mobile apps were the preserve of a handful of pioneering companies in the energy and consumer technology sectors – industries with strong local service. Today, it seems that in every coffee shop it is easier to find a smartphone than a cash register.

The largest projects in the field of mobile technologies for 2011–2013

Let’s start by looking at what’s happening in the industry. Four main categories of projects that will remain relevant until 2013.

Executive dashboards. This includes financial and operational reports, as well as other key data that executives need. Data flows to mobile devices from corporate systems for business management and from business intelligence applications.
Field sales performance and customer relationship management. Today, there are many applications that make it easier to serve existing customers, lead leads, create offers and close deals for sales and service professionals.
Inventory Management. The use of mobile technology in warehouse operations and distribution processes increases productivity and provides key personnel with immediate access to inventory status.
Back office applications. A variety of back office applications streamline internal processes such as cost reporting, payroll calculation and payment, employee vacations, medical support, and more.

The proliferation of affordable and powerful mobile devices (many of which are employee-owned) opens up enterprise mobility opportunities for virtually any company. In many cases, the use of mobile applications is essential. However, unlike large companies, SMB companies are forced to solve problems and eliminate restrictions associated mainly with a lack of human and financial resources.
SAP recently brought together a team of experts to address the key corporate mobility challenges for SMBs and develop approaches that enable SAP customers to capitalize on the changes and opportunities ahead. Below are four aspects that need to be considered when implementing “mobile” projects, and the corresponding recommendations of our experts.

1. Employees have ever higher demands on IT

Before the era of corporate mobility, companies typically used custom and packaged software provided by the IT department. All productivity applications were stored and used on the company’s servers and PCs.

Consumerization of IT has become a reality of our time. Most of the employees involved in corporate mobile projects already work with a smartphone or tablet computer and independently select applications to improve work efficiency (instead of working with products provided by the company).

This is why it is so important to consider the opinions of users. You must be ready to provide your employees with more convenient and more efficient solutions than the standard enterprise desktop applications that were relevant five years ago. Naturally, the success of your endeavor depends on the acceptance of a new product by users, so their interests should be taken into account throughout the development process.

SAP experts recommend examining current benchmarks for user experience and continually conducting market research and monitoring to stay on top of the most advanced mobile user applications available today.

2. Forecasting requirements for resource and change management

In terms of IT resources, corporate mobile technology projects are significantly different from all other IT projects. Think how many times you have changed your mobile phone in recent years. Other employees probably did the same. In addition, mobile technology infrastructure and standards are changing much faster than database and enterprise application standards and infrastructure.

However, every effort must be made to ensure that the deployed enterprise mobility solution remains relevant for as long as possible. To do this, it is necessary to choose promising and reliable technologies and competently carry out long-term planning (not limited to one or two applications).

In addition, it is important to consider the social significance of such projects and the cultural changes associated with them. If your employees no longer work under the same roof, you may need to rethink team strategies, internal communication processes, and employee performance standards and expectations.

3. Addressing emerging security and governance issues

Employees of different companies are increasingly using their mobile devices to solve critical business problems. Considering the recent explosive growth in the segment of tablet computers (eg iPad), we can say that this trend will continue in the future. The difficulty is that both corporate and personal data will be stored on the same mobile device (which can be purchased by both the company and the employees themselves). This situation significantly complicates the management of corporate assets.

Smartphones are not desktop computers. We keep talking about how mobile device management should be one of your organization’s key security concerns. Implementing innovative mobile technologies that provide a competitive edge to your workforce must go hand in hand with effective IT management to help keep your organization’s data and assets safe.

One SAP expert notes that the most effective way to mitigate the security risks associated with “mobile” projects is to use an architectural approach to managing mobile systems based on industry practices. Most executives today are not knowledgeable in this industry, so it is recommended that you consult with trusted IT experts on this matter.