Before you ask the benefits of a mobile workforce solution can be far removed from just giving someone a smartphone a SIM card and an email account. A mobile workforce solution goes to the heart of what can still be a paper based process.
Mobile Workforce Solution Impact Areas
Boost productivity by keeping employees in contact with staff vendors and customers.
Close sales, solve problems and respond to urgent requests more effectively by enabling employees to work virtually anywhere.
Improve service and satisfaction by interacting with customers in real time.
Control IT and equipment costs and safeguard corporate data and apps.
Mobile application development time – our enterprise mobility grade development platform enables the creation of apps in days rather than weeks. Devise as many applications as required and update applications instantly as business processes change.
Remote workers jobs performed, clients visited or customer care tasks completed.
Time spent in the field by eliminating the need to return to the office to complete paperwork.
Responsiveness and service to your customers – tasks dispatched instantly to remote workers in the field.
Eliminate and Reduce
Cost – Manual data entry errors and back office costs.
Invoice billing cycle and accounts receivable lag time – completed job data received back from remote works in real-time.
Reliance on expensive custom coding as a method of producing and updating applications.
Provide – Competitive Advantage
A complete unified enterprise grade solution for developing, testing, deploying, maintaining and updating cross platform applications..
Real-time access to data in the field so workers have the information they need when they need it.
Create native Microsoft Android iOS and HTML layouts from the same application.
Out of box integration with your existing legacy and ERP back end systems.
The ability to deploy and manage from a single screen a variety of applications to multiple device types.
Post data directly to the web for review by back office staff managers workers or customers.
A compelling way to quantify the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of a project. We can either build an application for you or teach you how to manage the whole process yourself using a single skill set.
Book a meeting or webinar about how we can help you realise the benefit of mobile workforce solutions.
NEW T1400 Rugged Tablet PC Makes Case For Lower TCO Than Android
If you are looking for a thin and rugged tablet with an outdoor readable screen look no further than the New T1400 rugged tablet pc which is one of the thinnest (19mm) and lightest (1.1 kg) 10” Windows rugged tablets available.
Lower TCO than Android…
Traditional TCO for rugged tablets has focused on MTBF’s and the ability to work in harsh environments vs consumer orientated product meaning less failure and repair expense. Anecdotally Windows tablets have taken a beating compared to Android devices. Whilst this may be true in consumer in the B2B area it is not so clean cut. Many businesses have larger investments in Microsoft based infrastructure and skills which often make the adoption of new devices easier with a Windows OS. Even before you get to desktop productiveity tools.
As Gartner points out “Based on our TCO analysis, Windows 8 on Intel Tablets offer a promising outlook for IT organizations as they could be as much as ~25% less expensive to operate than other Tablets. Furthermore, Windows 8 on Intel Tablets provide IT organizations with added benefits in data management and security.” Read Gartner Total Cost of Ownership for Tablets White Paper
3 TCO Impact Areas
Reduced software cost
Lower management costs
Improved end-user productivity
The Techie Stuff…
T1400 is rated to IP65 and features an Intel Celeron N2920 processor along with 4GB of RAM and 64GB SSD running either Windows 7 or 8.1 plenty of horsepower to handle all your standard Windows desktop and browser apps.
Capture high quality photos or video on either of two cameras, scan barcodes with the optional 2D imager, use GPS, attach wireless peripherals via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth and connect to 4G LTE cellular networks. Multiple battery pack options and hot swap mean the unit can be used all day.
Get in touch to discuss enterprise mobility TCO and how tablet computing can help energise your business.
Why it’s still OK to Bespoke Enterprise Mobile Software
NewsFlash! Companies implement enterprise mobility systems to help them be more competitive whilst at the same time streamlining in field and back office processes.
In recent years it has become the norm for operational and IT teams to go for a pre-built application and if necessary change business processes to fit the parts where the app does not quite match with the working practices on the ground.
For some custom development is old fashioned and carries the stigma of being expensive and never ending. Both of these statements can be true and some high profile bespoke IT projects at the BBC and the NHS do not help to overturn the perception.
The tools are out there to make producing an app a lot easier than it used to be. Modern Mobile Application Development Platforms (MEAP) have eliminated much of the black art around producing something that will work. It really is OK to bespoke an enterprise mobile enterprise mobile software.
Bespoke Enterprise Mobile Software 8 Things to Think About
This approach can work for small numbers of users performing a very specific task. But the more users you have the more likely you will be able to justify an ROI for the project.
Talk to someone who has either done something like this is a similar business process or a vendor who provides this sort of solution.
Get your paper forms turned into an app as a prototype.
Devise a plan for choosing which sort of device and OS will be suitable. Ensure your prototype runs on the target device satisfactorily. What is the expected life of these product?
An app is useless unless you can connect it to something. Can you connect the data gathered to your ERP or CRM system. Is exporting it as a file or web service good enough? Find out first if you can make this integration and who will manage it.
Write a comprehensive specification of how the whole solution will operate.
Review the results with the people who actually carry out the process.
By iteration tweak your prototype and repeat.
It’s still OK to bespoke enterprise mobile software. Get in touch to book a visit for us to discuss your requirements.
How to Evaluate an Investment for In Premise Enterprise Mobility Part 4
In the final part of our series on how to evaluate an investment for in premise enterprise mobility, we will look at two further areas where benefit can be generated – improvements in scheduling and income.
Then its your turn to get some numbers from your own business and see what impact an investment for in premise enterprise mobility can generate.
Improvements in Scheduling
Typically areas where you can expect improvements in scheduling are in factory utilisation overtime charges and the reduction in special delivery charges.
Savings in these areas are calculated in different ways. For factory or plant utilisation you need to know the gross margin and annual sales of the unit. We assume it is operating at full capacity. Multiply these figures together with the expected improvement in utilsation using in premise mobility.
To estimate the savings from less overtime and fewer special outbound deliveries multiply the current costs in these areas by the expected percentage improvement. Here are some ideas from Coca Cola on improving working hours performance.
For example. Assume your sales are £1,000,000 and your gross margin is 30%. You incur an average of £30,000 in overtime and special shipping charges. If you believe a 15 % improvement is likely in both areas your calculations will look something like this:
Your calculations would look something like:
Factory Utilisation 15% x £1m x 30% = £45,000
Overtime and special delivery charges 10% x £30,000 = £3,000
Total = £48,000
Improvements in Income
Most view enterprise mobility as a cost elimination tool. It can however also help generate income for your business. For example, not many parcel delivery companies would win contracts without the ability to track your parcel door to door.
These benefits are usually intangible but they can add up. Factors such as a sales boost from better customer satisfaction and improved cost data for new sales bids can be entered into your cost justification analysis.
Customer satisfaction – big subject with lots of opinion pieces and research to support why its such a good idea. In summary faster response times more accurate billing, higher quality products can all mean more repeat business and better word of mouth recommendations all of which mean more sales. It works for Zappos why not in your business?
Improvements to the cost of data for bidding is perhaps a less obvious benefit. But where you are building quotations based on up to date data you can minimize over and under bidding. Resulting in better quality quotations and more profitable ones.
Your calculations form either source can be estimated by taking the expected increase in each and multiplying it by the gross margin.
For example if gross margin is 30% and you expect £15,000 in increased sales from better customer satisfaction as well as £10,000 from additional successful bids then your income improvement would look something like:
Customer Satisfaction £15,000 x 30% = £4,500
Winning more bids £10,000 x 30% = £3,000
Total = £7,500
Add It All Up
So you have gathered your data and made your calculations. In our example;
Labour Savings £24,000
Improve Income £7,500
Total £ 134,500
With in premise enterprise mobility systems costing less than £100,000 these calculations would result in a payback period of less than one year.
Get in touch to book a webinar or visit to see how we can help you make the most of your in premise enterprise mobility project.
Top Enterprise Mobility Things To Think About 4 of 10
“I have data in tables that is constantly changing, such as work orders and inventory levels. How do my mobile workers get this new data”
Enterprise data management has become a important topic in many companies. Where users are deploying a mobile system to workers in the field it can create a number of challenges. Our dynamic enterprise data feature allows us to help our users define how often updated and changed data is sent out to users.
Business rules can be defined that tell the system to send this new data to everyone assigned to a specific app or only to those workers or managers who need to see specific data. For example if work orders were assigned to a specific technician the system could be set up to automatically send the data only to that worker.
Making sure you are sending the right data to the correct worker can get complex. Get in touch to learn how we make this a piece of (cup) cake…
How to Evaluate an Investment for In Premise Enterprise Mobility Part 3
In our previous two pieces on in premise enterprise mobility we discussed how many companies evaluate a project of this type and how some simple maths models can help us understand the profile of an investment.
Now let’s look at the most common cost savings from an in premise enterprise mobility project and illustrate how to quantify these savings and access the results.
After the cost of your investment has been determined you can start coming up with some projected savings figures.
Labour savings include direct and indirect. This includes worker time involved in the warehouse and on in the logistics area. Two common areas where savings are found:
More efficient and improved use of time time through technology such as using barcodes to generate invoices for shipments and warehouse locations locations and levels.
Reduce administrative time which covers savings from less in-house paperwork more accuracy fewer keying errors
Labour not involved in production itself also stands to benefit from implementing a system. These areas include: smarter production control, more accurate payroll fewer management meetings and better quality data entry that does not need to be re-keyed.
Inventory savings are those other than direct labour costs associated with keeping inventory. For example obsolescence including the cost of unsold inventory due to time, and spoilage. Further rework and scrap costs arise from modifying old inventory.
In either case, to determine cost savings calculate your current annual costs for these subcategories and the expected annual improvement from your enterprise mobility system. Multiply your current costs by the expected improvement to derive annual savings. The current annual cost of these categories should be a statistic known to the business and the expected annual improvement will depend on your current efficiency and nature of your the operation.
Carrying costs refers to the total costs associated with maintaining inventory. These costs include interest taxes and storage. Such costs are generally estimated to range from 25% to 33% of average inventory balances. Use 25%, to come up with an estimate of cost savings.
For example, you currently average £200,000 in excess inventory each year. You also throw out £40,000 in inventory due to obsolescence, and spend another £10,000 on rework and scrap. You determine that a 10% reduction in these two items is reasonable.
Top Enterprise Mobility Things To Think About 3 of 10
“How does the solution work if there is no network connectivity”
If may be hard to believe but wireless Wi-Fi and WWAN networks are not always available or reliable. In many scenarios your enterprise mobility app will need to be designed to contain all the business logic data and process it needs but residing on the handheld device itself. This enables functionality both online and offline by returning the unit back to a dock. Historically this is a common approach with .NET based devices. Same logic applies where Android or iOS are being used. Some apps like Direct Store Delivery are often used in physical environments where network access is spotty and going off to find coverage to compete a transaction would take too much time.
Where wireless or wired access is available mobile workers can communicate with host business systems in real-time. Make sure your remote app can automatically or on command send and receive queued transactions content and messages via a secure connection like Netmotion Mobility XE. Features such as this optimise user productivity while minimizing transmission costs.
The benefits of using Wireless either across Wi-Fi or WWAN are clear but make sure you allow for both on and off line scenarios.
How to Evaluate an Investment for In Premise Enterprise Mobility Part 2
In Part 1 we discussed how some companies go ahead with an in premise enterprise mobility project without measuring and evaluating its financial impact.
In simple terms if a review is undertaken it is a two step process evaluating the cost Vs the potential benefits.
This post is about some very simple maths models.
Not surprisingly this is the length of time needed to generate a return on investment. It is arrived at by dividing the total investment by the expected annual savings. The longer the payback period lasts the less profitable the investment. For example if your in premise enterprise mobility investment cost £100,000 and had an expected yield of £50,000 the period would be £100,000 divided by £50,000 or two years.
Of course the payback period can vary greatly between different companies and is always subjective. It relies on someone being able to access enough information to make the calculation in the first place. How the project is funded can also have an influence. Wiping out an IT budget by doing project A over Project B is ok as long as the knock on consequences of not doing Project B are understood. And be aware adoption is not such a great ROI measure.
The good news is that it is common for an in premise enterprise mobility project to have have a payback period of less than 24 months.
Net Present Value
Now for some maths! Clearly the cost of an investment is now but the savings are in the future and accrue over time. Net present value helps to answer the question:
Are the savings I expect to recover in the future greater in present terms than the immediate cost of the investment ?
There are dozens of blogs critiques and videos about the concept of present value.
In simple terms to make the calculation you need to know:
Cost of Money – Interest/Discount rate
Your annual projected savings.
How many years the savings will continue.
Here is an example:
You make an investment of £1,000 in year 1
The interest rate is 10%
You make savings of £110 in year 2
You make savings of £1,200 in year 3
The NPV of the investment would be:
The year 1 cash flow is -£1,000
The PV of the year 2 cash flow = £110/1.10 = £100
The PV of the year 3 cash flow = £1,200/(1.10^2) = £1,200/1.21 = £991.74
The NPV is: -£1,000 + £100 + £991.74 = £91.74
A positive number means this would make the investment worth undertaking.
Calculating PV can be complicated. Some managers may consider the savings to be able to continue indefinitely which can be an issue worth addressing.
Next time we will go over the areas that can most commonly benefit from an investment in premise enterprise mobility. And illustrate how to quantify them.
Steve Kunert Rugged Tablet PC Director of Engineering at MobileDemand explains:
There is that “Oh, !*?#” exclamation when a consumer tablet is dropped and shrapnel flies everywhere. Workers with rugged tablets accidentally drop their tablets and simply pick them up and keep on working.
The thing most people unfamiliar with rugged tablet PC systems say when they first hold one is, “Wow! That’s heavy. Why?” The answer is pretty straightforward. The rugged tablets are designed and built to survive every day all day, intensive use. Rugged tablets such as MobileDemand’s xTablet T1200 with an i5 processor and a 10.4” screen are full Windows 7 or Windows 8 capable devices.
How to Evaluate an Investment for In Premise Enterprise Mobility
We talk to many potential clients who are considering in premise enterprise mobility to improve the performance of their business.
It is still a surprise that even in these tough time economic times orgainsations decide to invest in a solution without measuring and evaluating its financial impact.
Figuring out a cost justification is really a two part exercise. Not surprisingly it balances the immediate cost of the investment against the savings you expect in the long run. This post is all about the first stage the next one introduces the maths involved.
What Are The Up Front Costs ?
You will need to determine what sort of in premise enterprise mobility system you will need and what it is likely to cost. For example, if you are going to use it for some sort of inventory control in a yard or warehouse you will no doubt need some sort of rugged Wi-FI enabled device with built in barcode scanning capability. If you are delivering product to a customer by van you may need to specify something with a larger screen WWAN capability mobile printing and a suitable in vehicle docking system.
At this point many projects spend a lot of time compiling scorecards to evaluate one potential offering with another. Whilst this total cost of ownership TCO phase is a key step the sooner you can get on to measuring potential savings the better. Much has been written about this in the context of Supply Chain Excellence.
Can you Estimate the Savings ?
Total costs can be spread out over time and can include soft costs which can themselves be tough to quantify. However you should reasonably expect to see some improvements in income and savings in labour operational costs and inventory. For example:
Better cost data means better quality bids.
Improved customer satisfaction by having better access to data.
Process Improvements and better rostering of tasks.
More efficient use of time.
Reduce administration time and fewer meetings
Reduce the need for data entry.
Inventory and Operations
Lower carrying costs.
Less scrap or re-work.
Better Factory and warehouse and vehicle utilization.
The challenge is coming up with a realistic estimate of the values associated with these areas.
So we have some potential savings where you could reasonably see a positive benefit from doing a project. The next step is to determine if the project is viable and to do this you will need to compare it to the cost of the investment necessary to carry it out.
There are a number of ways to evaluate this but two that are worth beginning with are:
Net Present Value
Next time we will go over the calculations necessary to evaluate an in premise enterprise mobility investment using both of these methods.
This involves some scary maths so make sure you have a pencil and a pad of paper handy !
5 Years Worth of Rugged Tablet PC Abuse in 36 Seconds
Ok Neat Video But so what….?
Understanding Rugged Tablet PC abuse helps us to relate to what should be a top factor when you undertake an enterprise mobility project – Total Cost of Ownership. The more you can reduce the TCO for equipment such as tablet PCs the better the return you can expect from your mobility investment. The value of quantifying rugged tablet pc abuse helps us to understand durability and longevity. This is especially key when providing for maintenance and help desk support for a system.
One snag is that given the fast evolution of mobile technology it is a very real possibility that the “brain” of the device will become obsolete fall behind the times while the case remains perfectly viable.
Expect and Plan for Change
This kind of obsolescence might be unplanned but you should expect it to happen a some point. There is no doubt your operating environment and business processes – and therefore your mobile computing needs will continue to change. Unfortunately you can’t necessarily predict exactly what that change will look like.
The key to optimizing your Rugged Tablet PC investment is to “future proof” your choice of features giving devices the flexibility and scale to keep working for you as long as possible.
Studies show that getting just six more months from your rugged tablet PC can significantly affect your bottom line. A 54 month lifespan can increase TCO by more than 14% compared to 48 months. Leasing can also help minimize the impact of an investment on an IT budget in any one year. There are also generous tax incentives in some countries.
Email or call us today to see how a rugged tablet pc can provide the TCO your enterprise mobility project is looking for.
What Everybody Ought to Know About Identifying a Mobile Computing Platform for Enterprise Mobility
Guest Post by Timothy C B Cox. I always have said the mobile computer like the smart phone is not much use without applications, and it’s true for all enterprise solutions which makes identifying a mobile computing platform for enterprise mobility such an important task.
But the platform does play an important part in the solution and should not be overlooked as just an easy decision because of our familiarity with smart consumer devices. Recently Apple reported a drop in product margin’s, but their pricing has not really changed. It shows smart phones are not going to get any cheaper anytime soon.
If anything consumer choice will be between the high margin expensive full featured hand-sets and the lower cost feature limited devices. Or putting it another way, choosing between high margin devices and low margin devices. Of course it’s in the interests of the vendor to urge the consumer to purchase the high margin product.
So future options are limited, I see them trying to protect existing product margins by releasing a new product with lower cost base. I cannot see them compromising flagship products in terms of quality or features being a route for established brands when they battling with each other for market share.
Samsung is currently being probed by the Taiwanese authorities for possibly paying people to post bad reviews and poor readability reports for the HTC One in Taiwan. The HTC One uses higher quality materials in its case design and Samsung is concerned they may get into a new battle where their material costs increase to defend against other products, and this would be an unwanted downward pressure on their product margins.
The Apple iPhone is generally accepted to be of high quality design and build. What Samsung fears is having to compete with another Android handset where the only real difference is quality of materials used in it’s industrial design.
Everyone selling is under pressure from falling margins!
Mobile Computing Platform for Enterprise Mobility
Rugged devices, though initially more expensive do last longer before being replaced, they are more stable in design and feature sets. Typical customers do not like unpleasant surprises, because their investment is larger and the time to reach their ROI is longer.
You shouldn’t expect rugged device makers to jump onto latest OS releases or design features their customer base has a predefined expectation of their products. If you look at Conical responsible for the open source Ubuntu Linux distribution, they have a two track release solution, a LTS or Long Term Support release and a general release. Think of their LTS release as the enterprise edition (stable) with the general release aimed directly at the consumer (with latest features).
Rugged device manufactures also work to the LTS concept but all their products adhere to the LTS concept! Where they commit to a number of years of support, service and updates for their platform.
Enterprise customers must get a stable platform to build their business; not to be distracted by worrisome and unimportant support and life cycling of the product. It allows customer’s to manage their mobility system over a known period of stability in terms of the platform, allowing them to build and plan their applications and solutions with very low risk along with favorable Total Cost of Ownership TCO numbers.
Buy a consumer device for use in the mobile workforce and you will be going through some sort of product and/or software refresh every year. Because consumer devices change with annoyingly regularity, to the delight of the vendors and retail stores, as it drains consumers wallets regularly.
In short, it’s not in best interests for consumer products to have a LTS approach, they rely on phones being replaced regularly to maintain revenues. Google likes to tell the market they have 1.5 million phone activations every day, but they don’t let on if these are existing users upgrading or new customers.
In April 2013 Google changed from reporting new hand-set activations to only reporting device visits to their on-line app store called ‘Play Store’!
So a LTS products may not have all the latest features and leading edge (or bleeding edge) options like consumer products. But they are what is called ‘stable’ releases, nothing is included that may have a negative affect on smooth running of the device. Be assured the LTS designed products do not suffer like some iPhone batteries have after a recent iOS update from Apple, and solved by two subsequent updates.
Imagine (as an enterprise user) having to manage, push and pay for (if pushed over 3G) an update to your mobile workforce. Not to mention dealing with users suffering from shorter than expected battery life, this happen recently with Apples iOS devices. Just because the vendor pushed an update to hand-sets automatically.
Get a new Windows Phone device, and even if you to use it in the enterprise, be ready to create a new Hotmail (Microsoft Live) account for each device. Use Bing to find out more! Something else to manage and filter and control and lock down and…
It’s not the incorrect decision to purchase a consumer device, all companies are at different stages in their cooperate life. Some have more important projects with bigger positive impact on their operations commanding a larger percentage of the available budgets. Some may not be able to afford the initial costs of rugged mobile devices.
No matter how you look at it, there is someone who will supply a product to fit your financial requirements, guaranteed! So I would go as far as to suggest that companies who can only afford consumer devices or think they are stretched too much to get into rugged devices should wait until they have the budget or consider leasing, because maybe they are spending their cash on the wrong kind of project and its better spent elsewhere!!
So don’t dismiss those who tell you ‘you’re making a huge/massive mistake by looking at consumer products’. Help them understand where your company is today and what resources and projects you are working with. It will save everyone a whole lot of wasted time and money!
Sometimes it’s difficult for people to understand why a company would choose what looks to be an inferior product. I would like to be driving a Range Rover and I could if I wanted, but I drive a cheaper 4×4 because my children are still young and make a complete mess of the interior. So choosing the cheaper car fits my situation today and I live with that decision and my car delivers exactly what I expect!
Timothy C B Cox Mobile Workforce Strategy Consultant based in Dubai. Get in touch with Tim through Linkedin
Call us to discuss how we can help you identify the right opertaing system for your enterprise mobility project.
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