Magazine Article | December 28, 2011

When It Comes To Mobility, Stand Up For The End User

Source: Stratix Corporation

By Brian Anderson, mobile services manager, Stratix,

While the mobile experience continues to improve in our personal lives, mobile workers don’t always benefit in the same ways.

As we check our smartphone every 10 minutes to see if we’ve received a Facebook or Twitter message, email from work, or a text from one of the kids, we are constantly reminded of the incredible availability of information at our fingertips and ease of use of the technology. This represents our personal use of a mobile device, but seldom does it represent the enterprise end-user experience for line-of-business solutions. So why the inconsistency when the enterprise drives technology innovation for us consumers?

End Users Have Not Been The Focus
The typical enterprise RFP requirements for new mobile solutions are clear on the need for productivity gains, exceeding ROI, reducing TCO, and providing new revenue opportunities. Where do the end users come into play? End users are screaming for change when they look at their existing line-of-business mobile solution. The traditional mobile users in retail, transportation, or field service have grown accustomed to a Windows Mobile OS, a rugged form factor, a myriad of accessories, and a clunky application UI. These solutions have worked well for the last decade when mobility was a niche IT focus but will not suffice in the new age of enterprise mobility.

Successful Mobility: Where Useability Meets Functionality
At the end of this decade the majority of the commercial sector workforce is expected to be made up of Generation Y and Millennium Generation workers. This fact should cause IT executives to take a closer look at their mobile road maps. Traditional enterprise needs, such as mobile email, bar-code scanning, and real-time connectivity will remain important, but new needs are emerging: mobile IM, personalized contacts management, employee portals, cloud-based CRM/ ERP, and unrestricted access to personal content all on the same device. So how does the enterprise meet these requirements?

Do not take shortcuts to meet functionality. Using a Bluetooth consumer-grade scanner to meet heavy scanning requirements will not meet job functions and fail as a solution. Deploy a device that has the best enterprise scanner. Deploying an unimpressive Web page on a tablet for heavy CRM use will cause widespread frustration and low utilization. Deploy a well-written application with the best UI. Evaluate the top five use cases and choose the best solution for users, not the cheapest.

Embrace change. The market is experiencing a convergence of influences. Rugged and commercial OEMs are racing to be the first to market new devices on new operating systems. Yet, corporate IT avoids change because it means different skill sets and higher costs. In 2011, a VDC report stated that enterprises intended to make mobility one of their top IT investments; yet, their IT resources were least skilled in this area. Using existing resources does not equal cost savings. Organizations will see the greatest ROI and end user acceptance if they invest in the right resources and technology to support the change.

Select a partner that will last. When you deploy thousands of devices and there is a technical issue that delays your mobile deployment, your OEMs and integration partners can help protect your investment. Consumers will no longer tolerate new, untested products produced by low-cost providers, so why would it be any different for enterprise end users? Technical issues will come up in any mobile deployment, but having a partner to quickly resolve these problems is crucial. A partner with a history of product and service success should be the benchmark.

Deploy and build “iApplications.” Consumers in 30 seconds or less can find, purchase, and download an application. End users in the enterprise will have no patience in the future to wait months for an “update” addressing bug fixes that provide little to no improvement to their day-to-day use of the device. Both consumers and enterprise end users are demanding reliable, fast, flexible, and always connected mobile applications to help them do their jobs and live their lives.