Mobility and innovation in business management are facilitating mobile workers at a rate not even seen with the rise of the laptop. And, it’s only the beginning says Martin Robinson, business development manager at Bluekey Software Solutions, a local technology company specialising in the implementation of SAP Business One.
“It is incredible to see how prolific smart phones and other hand held devices are in business nowadays. Soon people carrying laptops will be outnumbered by those brandishing iPads, smart phones and the like. These devices are just as clever and they fit better into a mobile worker’s lifestyle than a cumbersome laptop, wires and plugs ever could.
“Companies like them better too,” he says, “Instead of forking out huge amounts to equip the top echelon with laptops, companies can afford to allow more employees to do their jobs on the move by leveraging smart handheld devices.
“And, what would your smart mobile device be without applications? We are seeing a proliferation of applications which apart from fueling the shift in the way that people access internet-based content and resources, make using these resources from a small device easier, better and less finicky. These applications are in part what make smart devices as smart as they are.”
Cognisant of this shift, vendors like SAP have been quick off the mark to develop applications that are designed to enhance users’ experience when accessing business critical services from a mobile device, while delivering the same level of functionality that they get from a desktop.
For instance, the full functionality and power of SAP Business One can be easily enabled with applications that are downloadable on numerous different devices. They are used with ease and typically have the same look and feel as users are accustomed to on a PC. Due to the ease with which SAP Business One Mobility is enabled and the high degree of flexibility and functionality it makes available, the solution has massive potential to enable worker mobility and help companies achieve their mobile ambitions.
While on the move, or sitting in front of customers, sales people for example can immediately tap into SAP Business One from an iPad and a few other handheld devices to check stock availability, review customer details and payment terms, place and process orders, generate quotes, check customer account balances and track the status and progress of orders.
There is no need to scribble down notes and then spend hours on end when back at the office generating quotes and processing orders, causing obvious backlogs and delays. Employees are also able to intelligently answer customer queries “on the fly” because they have immediate access to live, up-to-date information. All actions taken by the employee on their mobile device are in sync with the company’s Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system and automated seamlessly.
“Instead of being bogged down with admin, paperwork and calls back to customers when they are back at the office, employees can spend more time on the road seeing customers and performing their core function. This translates into a more informed, more productive employee.
“The impact on the customer side is obvious because an employee who is informed enough to answer questions and take decisive action quite simply delivers a better service,” says Robinson.
Robinson says that companies that have already installed SAP Business One 8.8 and 8.81 can utilise the mobility function in place.
“A number of our clients have enabled SAP Business One on mobile devices. We expect this trend to gain pace. Aside from lack of awareness of what you can do with SAP Business One on a mobile device, I don’t think there’s much else stopping companies already using the solution from leveraging it to promote their mobile workforce,” he concludes.
The Mobile Commerce Guide from Sybase is full of practicable tips and valuable insights into mobile commerce – the process of conducting transactions, marketing, and communication via a mobile device. Here, we highlight five must-know facts.
5. It’s a global trend.
Mobile commerce consists of two categories: mobile financial services and mobile CRM. Due to limited payment methods and limited access to the internet, emerging economies tend to use mostly mobile payment and money transfer services. Developed economies, on the other hand, tend to embrace mobile banking services as an entry point into mobile financial services.
Here are two examples that illustrate global adoption of mobile commerce. Since it launched in Kenya in 2007, M-PESA, a mobile payment service offered by Safaricom, a Vodafone affiliate, has 13 million registered users and handles mobile transactions valued at $400 million each month.
ABI Research estimates that North American sales of physical goods purchased via a mobile device exceeded $1 billion in 2010. That is a 33 percent increase over its 2009 forecast of $750 million.
A report by Juniper Research predicts that mobile payments will reach $600 billion globally before 2013. Some regions, though, are more mobile than others. In a 2010 survey, the Asia-Pacific region consistently ranked ahead of EMEA and the Americas in reported use of mobile communities, mobile banking, vouchers and coupons sent to a phone, and other mobile commerce services.
4. It’s catching on across industries.
Mobile commerce services make it possible for people to perform everyday financial transactions, like paying for parking, from their mobile phone. People who previously had no access to financial services are able to save money, send money between family members, and pay merchants for goods and services with their mobile phone.
Industries outside of the financial sector have also been integrating mobile commerce. Utilities companies update customers on their consumption and enable them to pay bills. Restaurants, hotels, and cinemas provide mobile reservation and booking services.
The retail industry makes use of end-to-end mobile commerce services: from mobile marketing and awareness campaigns, to mobile loyalty programs, vouchers, and surveys, to mobile point-of-sale technology.
A 2010 survey by Sybase makes clear that customers are willing to purchase services that deliver added value, such as official emergency alerts or special offers and coupons from a favorite retailer.
3. It’s about delivering new value to customers.
Companies should have two things in mind when deciding how to implement mobile commerce: how will this service deliver new value to my customers, and how will this service be profitable for my company?
Here are some examples: A global manufacturer of baby products uses mobile services to encourage brand loyalty. When customers buy a package of diapers, they receive a short code to send in by phone. This code not only gives the customers points toward a voucher for more products, but it also sets them up in a “new parent” group, where they can share tips and connect with other new parents.
Smartphones in particular provide an opportunity to integrate mobile marketing and time and location information to conduct targeted “nimble campaigns.” For example, a restaurant can send out vouchers for a lunch deal precisely at 11:30. Or a retailer can send out specific offers to customers based on their location.
2. It’s important to choose the right channel.
Companies need to think carefully about which mobile channels they should use to offer mobile services. The main mobile channels are: mobile app, mobile web, USSD, and SMS.
First and foremost, companies should take customer preferences into account. Do most of your customers have smartphones or feature phones? Does your region support the communication infrastructure necessary for an app or website? Many businesses end up using a combination of mobile channels, or start with SMS and then add an app or website over time.
Currently, USSD and SMS are the most popular mobile commerce channels because every phone supports them. As smartphones become more prevalent, however, experts expect more mobile commerce services to be conducted through mobile apps and websites.
Even in the US, SMS reaches about 70 percent of mobile phone users, according to Aaron Maxwell, founder of Mobile Web Up and expert panelist in a mobile commerce forum that took place in May 2011. In comparison, a mobile website reaches 35-40 percent, an iPhone app reaches 7 percent, and an Android app reaches 8 percent.
1. It’s available at SAP.
SAP provides end-to-end mobile commerce solutions through Sybase 365 Mobile Services. Many of these solutions are mentioned throughout the Mobile Commerce Guide 2011. Here, we give you the full list:
- For transactions: mBanking; mPayment; mTopUp; mRemittance
- For engagement: mCRM
- For analytics: Data management; Analytics and reporting
- For marketing: Messaging services; Subscription services; Advertising services
Mobile device management as a platform for increased efficiency
“I have been working in stealth mode over the past few months, collaborating with industry experts to create new content on trends and topics that are important in the mobile industry. I am excited to introduce you to the new “Mobile Sense” thought leadership series. Mobile Sense will be all about making sense of enterprise mobility topics, trends and issues. We’ll introduce new topics to you on a monthly basis via whitepapers, webcasts, chats, blogs, podcasts and more.
The first whitepaper in this series is about looking beyond mobile device management to ‘Enterprise Mobility Management’ (EMM). I love the term Enterprise Mobility Management because it takes what we commonly have referred to as mobile device management (through our Afaria product) and tells the broader story of what an enterprise really needs to think about when managing and security mobile data and devices. I hope by sharing this with you that you will broaden your perspective on what you really need in your enterprise.
The paper was written by mobility expert and thought leader Philippe Winthrop of the Enterprise Mobility Foundation. In the ‘Looking Beyond Mobile Device Management to Enterprise Mobility Management’ whitepaper (link to be shared soon), Philippe discusses how over the last 18 months we’ve seen an important shift where organizations are now increasingly looking beyond just mobile email to create and deploy a wide variety of applications that connect to the organizations’ back end systems and help mobilize internal business processes. Because of this shift, IT departments also need to shift the way they look at traditional mobile device management.
Today’s highly mobile workforce faces a number of new challenges that they did not face before – most notably the greater need for information loss protection and prevention. Philippe discusses how in order to address these potential risks, IT decision makers are have been turning to “mobile device management” solutions. The problem is that the term Mobile Device Management (MDM) is often misused and misunderstood. It is my mission to share with you how MDM and EMM are different – and why you should think about the broader requirements of EMM when considering your strategy.
I agree with Philippe that it seems that over the last year or so “Mobile Device Management is being used as an umbrella term for all things related to mobility management”. I think we have lost focus on the important issues at hand. When talking about “mobile device management,” we have forgotten about the broader story of enterprise mobility management. Philippe outlines that EMM is all about:
- Mobile Inventory/Asset Management
- Mobile Application Management
- Mobile Security
- Wireless Expense Management
- Mobile Operations Management
- Mobile Help Desk
This is a big topic, so I’ll pause and stop here for now. In my next post I’ll talk a bit more about each of the areas of EMM, and I’ll share the link to the full whitepaper. Stay tuned for a webcast on this topic in early September where Philippe Winthrop will share his thoughts. Registration will be coming soon and I’ll share the link here.”
Milja Gillespie is the director of mobility at SAP and drives thought leadership programs for the company’s leading edge mobility products.
Running SAP Business One one your Blackberry device
Managers, sales reps and service personnel all have exactly the right information they require for their daily work and decisions to be made while with customers.
- Online and offline access to corporate SAP Business One data through your Blackberry
- No investment or costly software configuration required
- No changes need to be made to SAP Business One to access business information on your Blackberry
- Software on a subscription basis per user (SaaS)
- Standard modules for all applications in the business
- Thanks to cloud technology, data is available and ready for use immediately
Reports & Dashboards – The dashboards are graphical analyses, providing you with clear and quick information on current company figures. Continuous synchronization with SAP Business One means that the graphics are always up to date and visible on your Blackberry.
Alerts – Don’t miss alert messages from SAP Business One anymore. You can have messages sent to you triggered by default, or you can define them in advance. For example, if an important customer places an order, you will be informed automatically.
Employees – This HR function allows you to contact your colleagues at any time and from any place. You can make calls or send e-mails directly from the app. Information about their location is visible, as well as information on the projects and customers managed by the respective colleague.
Business Partner – All useful data on your Business Partners is displayed on your mobile device. A quick glance gives you an overview of the distribution of responsibilities in the company and enables you to view information such as addresses, telephone numbers, current sales figures and KPIs, open invoices, past activities and much more.
Approvals – The responsible person can manage approval process even outside of the office. Thanks to coresuite mobile you get an overview of the Invoice, Order or any document that needs to be approved and can grant or reject the Approval Request instantly from your Blackberry. The back office receives the decision after the synchronization and can continue their work without delay.
In coresuite mobile we have created a product which makes master company data available on various smartphones as well as on tablets and laptops. No additional infrastructure is required for synchronization via coresuite cloud and the solution can be commissioned immediately.