Is Your ERP Mobile?

Does June 29, 2007 ring any bells for you? That's the day Apple released the first iPhone. The year before, Apple's market capitalization was $61 Billion. Recently Apple became the first company to reach a market cap of $900 Billion. That growth can be almost entirely attributed to the iPhone released on that day.

Of course, the iPhone didn't just change things for Apple. It was the beginning of mobile consumer technology which now include phones, tablets and wearable devices. $1.4 Trillion of ecommerce are influenced by mobile, the global mobile advertising market is $150 Billion and 60% of videos are now consumed on mobile devices.  Industry changing businesses like Uber are entirely on mobile.

Mobile at Home
We have all participated in this growth over the last 10 years as consumers. During that time, for good and bad, the relationship we have with our mobile device of choice has become one of total dependence. Most technologies we turn off or walk away from, but our mobile device is rarely turned off or allowed to move further than a few feet from us day and night. Perhaps arguably, this relationship is a choice for the current 2.5 billion smartphone/tablet users.

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Ninety percent of the time we connect to the outside world from our device through apps rather than a browser. Mobile apps have been designed for efficiency, simplicity and ubiquitous access. No tutorial required. Easy to download and start up. Always available whenever and wherever we choose to be. Those of us who have grown up before mobile have become accustomed to this ease-of-use as consumers. Those of us who have grown up after mobile, where the device has become an extension of ourselves, expect this way of life to be universal (these are the 12 year-olds we go to for mobile help support in exchange for room and board). 

Mobile at Work
Now the same way of life is transitioning into our business life. I don't mean the ability to work from home on nights and weekends, but using mobile on the job during "normal" work hours. Many jobs are not tied to a desk, though still require information, decisions and transactions while on the move. There have been many improvements over the years to allow some of these business-related interactions to occur while away from the desktop, but there are still many inefficiencies and limitations which remain. Making ERP and CRM fully 'Mobile First', to use current industry jargon, will go a long way into making the mobile worker more productive. But why do it? Will the benefits outweigh the costs?

Mobile Sales
It's easy to see the benefits of a mobile for sales. First, in most cases the job is mobile. Second the job is information intensive - information on leads, prospects, customers, products and operations are all crucial to reach objectives. Some benefits for mobile sales include:

1. Increase Sales - a study by Inooppl Technologies found that companies that use mobile CRM achieve sales quotas on 65% of deals. Companies that haven't made the move to mobile have a 22% deal close-rate.

2. Access Information and Shorten Sales Cycle - having access to the relevant information at the right time is crucial in sales. Mobile platforms provide info on the prospect, product, pricing, inventory and history— all while increasing productivity and reducing time within the sales cycle.

3. High Responsiveness - prospects and customers expect quick responses throughout the sales cycle. Research by Software Advice revealed that 30% of leads convert to opportunities when they receive fast responses. The conversion rate drops to 12% when response is slow. Email, phone, pitch decks, and other key information all made available from a mobile device gives the sales person the ability to provide answers quickly.

4. Gain Insights - the ability to access information provides insight, but the ability to capture real-time data on leads, calls and communications can provide metrics to improve sales performance. Anytime data gets entered after the fact, some is not captured and will be lost.

5. Collaborate with Team - sales is becoming more of a team effort rather than an individual one. Mobile platforms allow sales teams to work together and access insights and expertise from key groups outside of sales. These team efforts increase cross selling, conversion rates and shorten sales cycle times.


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Mobile Manufacturing
What does a world class manufacturer need to do at it's most basic level? Receive and deliver both physical goods and data to and from customers, suppliers and within the organization. Today data is just as critical as physical goods. The data is the key for customers, manufacturers and suppliers to make timely decisions that will ensure a positive experience and financial success for all participants. 

Mobile technology is a further extension of ERP, CRM, MES and other applications that has improved productivity and service over the last 30 years. Manufacturing CEO's have recently answered surveys from PWC that implementing mobile technology is their highest priority. They believe they can improve productivity, performance and service in all areas under their concern such as management decisions, procurement, fleet management, asset tracking/ maintenance, material tracking, warehouse, supply chains, shop floor and field sales. 

Some of the benefits of mobile manufacturing include:
1. Providing customers with real time information when needed, reducing the number of calls or emails and dissatisfaction of waiting for information.

2. The ability to provide accurate and timely quotes for complex build-to-order products using mobile access to pricing, inventory and delivery estimates. Conversion rates are much higher when this information can be given close to initial discussions.

3. Monitoring production flow with dashboards allows management and teams to spot bottlenecks and waste. One manufacturer of a complex build-to-order product found that the work entailed the order to flow 6 miles. The information allowed them to redesign the process to reduce this by 67%.

4. Production equipment failures are a major source of bottlenecks. Using mobile sensors, or IoT, to feed information to the maintenance teams can reduce downtime, quality problems and manufacturing cycle times.

5. Mobile technologies can improve coordination between manufacturing, logistics and suppliers for industries that require tight margins, high inventory turns and quick delivery. The days of excess inventory, phone calls and walks onto the shop floor will no longer work.

Mobile for Aftermarket
Business and consumers spend well over $1 Trillion on assets they already own. The gross margin on aftermarket services are more than double the gross margin for the original equipment. Most companies are not tapping into this lucrative market. Some tend to be product-centric and believe their primary value is complete after purchase. Many others face challenges in delivering effective aftermarket services. The traditional aftermarket service starts with an unhappy customer and has a high probability of increased unhappiness.

Mobile technology can help turn this around. Thy typical aftermarket service is initiated by the customer which is where the road to unhappiness starts. A more proactive process, as shown in the figure below from Cognizant, is a key to a successful aftermarket strategy.

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Mobile technology is a key enabler in proactive services. Mobile sensors can provide alerts and warnings to customer's mobile devices allowing them to execute preventative maintenance. The same information can be used by management to make any necessary changes in operations. Parts can be ordered ahead of time rather than after the fact. Field services can shrink service time with advanced information and having the necessary equipment and parts before arrival. 

Mobile and Growth
As consumers we have fully embraced mobile technology. Now we are doing the same on the job, albeit at a slower pace, though it's no longer a question of "if" but "when". A study on mobile technology adoption by SMEs completed by the Boston Consulting Group reveals the major advantages of being a leader in moving to mobile technology.

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The leaders experienced double the revenue growth and 8X job growth over a two year period. The opportunity to get closer to customers, drive productivity growth and reduce cycle time throughout the entire business process are the benefits from mobile adoption driving this growth.


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