Bill Gates famously talked of ‘Business at the speed of thought’. This may not be true for all, but business on the move has become a reality. Nearly all smartphone or phablet owners are aware of mobile apps like Flipkart, Cleartrip, IRCTC, Freecharge, etc. and many of them have downloaded and purchased goods and services. This is new age industry reality and trade is moving to e-commerce in a big way. But, is mobility as useful for staid, normal brick & mortar business? Can a normal non-IT savvy business use mobile technology to enhance productivity?
Though it is a truism repeated throughout IT industry, real use in SME businesses has picked up only recently. People are still tentative about its usage but in a mood to take a leap of faith, it seems. And rightly so.
While it was difficult for legacy systems to work interactively with new age web based mobile applications well, the new agile technologies adopted by new age ERPs like ebizframe v10, LN from Infor and a few others provide a wonderful interface and interactive working that improves productivity of the organization multi-fold.
Much better telecom connectivity as compared to .com days, no doubt, has increased the viability of mobile platforms in a practical manner. With smarter technological approach, one can also work in areas where network is weak as smartphones have enough memory to store off-line transaction that can be uploaded into the back-end ERP whenever one gets connectivity.
Major advantage of adopting mobile smartphone or tablet based technologies is they increase turn-around time multi-fold, say from enquiry > quotation > order > to despatch cycle.
Today, a marketing executive on the field can actually show product catalogues on his Tab or Smartphone, check stocks, check marketing schemes, check credit limit of the client, book orders, provide confirmation to the client if the order is confirmed while the back-end system can send a mail or an SMS for the order confirmed by the vendor. And the beauty is, all this is done in a short span of 2-5 minutes. If it were a case of van sales, the ME can actually even deliver the material, and provide invoice on the spot! Even as he is finishing his business the back-end ERP is also getting updated. If there is any change in policy the ME’s mobile also gets updated. Thus, the user is actually improving customer experience, providing delight to the client while his company has actually increased the turnaround time for order execution and also improved cash flows.
With all this, one cannot imagine that all this is happening so peacefully with process controls rather than chaotic uncertain order booking/over-booking and despatches. There is no problem of stock availability, inventory, sales, order execution and account reconciliation. One can picture the change in organizational environment from the earlier days to present days for an organization with 400-1000 MEs on field. Return on investment is enormous compared to additional cost that mobile adoption is done.
It is not just Sales & Distribution, one can use it even in remote manufacturing sites, say sub-contractors or even shop floor. Rather than providing a full-fledged PC/Laptop to a person on the Production Floor, or a supervisor moving in sub-contractor site, a smartphone or Tab can also update Production, WIP, confirmation of stocks, etc. easily and updating the back-end ERP or production software.
We thus see that mobility is no more a pie-in-the-sky fancy technology for normal brick and mortar industries and trading community. It is a practical extension of Enterprise solution that not only pays for itself but also helps faster returns on investment.
About the Author:
Ratan Sharda is Chief Consultant with Eastern Software Systems (ESS) and has been associated with ESS for 10+ years. He has a rich industry experience of 33+ years of which 21+ years have been in IT. He is a Post Graduate Alumini of St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai and has written and edited several books on social and management topics. To check his LinkedIn Profile, please click here and to connect with him on Facebook, please click here