Mention the fact that you’ve just purchased a new PC to your pals and they will likely yawn and, at best, act like they are interested. Tell your pals that you’ve picked up a new iPad, Android tablet or smart phone and you’ll have their full and complete attention.
Such is the world of technology. The only thing that seems to fall into the category of “Hot and New” hardware is mobile devices. The biggest puzzle for IT folks these days is figuring out how Mobile is going to impact their enterprise.
The fact is, Mobile is hot. Mobile Apps are hot. Mobile in business is very hot.
People are talking about the next iPhone, the latest tablet and the fortunes of RIM with more emotion and energy then I ever remember hearing with desktop hardware, OS or applications.
Remember DOS version 5? You had to be pretty geeky to roll out your feelings on that during the office Christmas party. How about Pentium? Did anyone really predict the downfall of any competing chip makers when Pentium hit the streets? When was the last time you heard someone get excited about the latest release of their favorite spreadsheet?
Mobile is where it’s at. Mobile is the hot ticket; Mobile is in your future if it’s not in your present.
What does is mean for ERP?
In case you haven’t noticed, mobile is already in ERP. Mobile smart phones are already connecting field sales to assorted back office apps and people via email. Pads or tablets are well established in field service to help with diagnostics, part inventory and even current schematics for complex in service products.
This is tremendously empowering (I know, overused biz word). Recently our stove began throwing out error codes on the screen that displays temperature and cooking times. I was able to log onto a site, enter the model number and serial number for my stove along with the error code. The site came back with part number that needed to be ordered. Easy as pie!
I ordered the part, scheduled the repair guy. He shows up with tablet, confirms the diagnosis, installs my FedEx delivered part and I was good to go.
What about inside the factory?
Mobile is a natural for the field but what about on the shop floor? Who needs mobility on the shop floor? Anyone who moves around may find it advantageous to have reporting and app access from a mobile device.
Sure, most people are assigned to a particular station and their needs can be met with a fixed screen or client. But, supervisors and managers frequently move about and some workers even float. In these cases mobility offers great advantages.
Ray Wang, CEO of Constellation Research cites three specific areas where mobility delivers potential advantage.
- Safety, Quality or Compliance – in some process based industries such as food or pharma, traceability and in process checking would be enhanced with mobility
- Information Delivery – Managers have need of reported data almost anywhere they go. No longer can people just scribble reference notes on envelops as they move around the physical facility. They need access to vast amounts of data in order to get to the distilled information they require.
- Approvals and Routings – Bar code readers are already there, these apps are being built into smart phones already. Also, tablets may well offer some advantages in this area too.
Mobility is here to stay. With ERP it will only grow as more and more people imagine better ways to put it to use in their jobs. More workers are being asked to perform multiple duties which require multiple applications and wide ranging data access.
Mobility will liberate these workers and allow them to move as needed. This will maximize the effectiveness of the employee and the efficiency of the manufacturing operation.