IT Management

You’ve probably already noticed that mobile and wireless technology offer many ways to improve your business. But have you thought of all the ways it might help? And do you know how to measure the change brought on by mobile business applications? Let’s examine a few examples to stimulate our thinking along these lines.

Perhaps the most obvious use case is the meter reader who comes to your house holding a ruggedized mobile device. It doesn’t look much like your smartphone, but it uses a lot of the same technology. One key difference is it takes a fall much better.

Mobile technology has improved the productivity of these workers in a number of ways. First, if they can’t find a meter, they can look up the location. Second, they can check what the previous reading was for comparison, and they can enter the new value. If a signature is required, they can get that on the device, too. Little or no data re-entry is required. Remember that one of the problems with paperwork is that somebody in the office has to be able to read what the person in the field wrote and enter those values into a computer system. By eliminating that process, you reduce the potential for error.

Another job function that has benefitted from mobility is that of the sales rep. With a mobile business application, he or she has immediate access to contact information and a history of customer touch points. The sales person can look up product information and take an order on the spot. As a rule of thumb, if you can take an order right away, you’re more likely to make the sale.

Then there’s the home healthcare professional who benefits from having medical records available. He or she can record the start and end times of each visit and note any important observations. If the patient needs medication and it’s necessary to look up information on drug interaction, that, too, is made easier by mobile technology. And finally, there’s the field service engineer who is dispatched more smoothly, orders parts quicker, and has more information readily available.

Because these road warriors are able to link to mainframe systems in the enterprise, they have much of the information they need at their fingertips. This cuts down on extra visits to the office and allows things to happen much quicker in the field.

How can you tell mobile technology has helped? You can measure it. Let’s look at two examples drawn from the cases just described.

Sales reps benefit from mobile solutions by being able to answer customer questions more quickly, take orders on the spot, prepare for customer visits more efficiently, close higher-value sales, complete administrative tasks more efficiently, and coordinate sales efforts with colleagues. Most of these new capabilities should translate to measurable benefits, such as number of sales calls, number of orders taken, average order size, number of up-sells and cross-sells, close rate, and, of course, revenue per sales person.

Service workers benefit from mobile solutions by being able to fix equipment faster, be dispatched more efficiently, order parts quicker, coordinate more effectively with colleagues, access problem history and technical documents, generate bills faster and more easily, and make fewer trips to the office. These new capabilities should translate to a number of measurable benefits, such as first-time fix rate, time to repair, dispatch time, calls serviced per engineer, invoices generated per engineer, and like the sales rep, revenue per engineer.

These are just a few of the business processes that can be re-engineered and some ways of measuring the change. Are there some you might have overlooked in your company?