Mobile

Enterprises Catch the Mobility Wave with A DIY Approach to Apps

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Nearly 75 percent of mobile subscribers in the U.S. (182 million) now own smartphones, and American adults spend upwards of 4.7 hours on these devices. The stats elsewhere in the world are even more staggering. All of this unprecedented attention represents a uniquely effective channel to reach employees and engage them in solving complex business challenges. With customized mobile apps, employees can bring specialized skills to bear on problems in the field, and organizations can become highly effective, data-driven enterprises. 

However, specifying and building custom mobile apps can be an expensive and time-consuming proposition. Hiring designers, developers and project managers, app store submissions and ongoing maintenance can be daunting even for larger IT teams. 

Enterprises require a new way to roll out process and organization specific mobile apps to their workforce in a fraction of the time and cost. 

Tapping organizational know-how to solve problems 

The landscape of work and business is changing faster than at any time in history. Teams are often dispersed across multiple time zones and cultures. Companies can no longer count on everyone being under the same roof from 9 to 5.  

At the same time, baby boomers are retiring at an accelerated rate, leaving a huge skills gap in their wake. According to the American Society of Training and Development, 76 million Americans will retire over the next 20 years while only 46 million will replace them. 

With these trends, increasingly the expertise to solve issues is remote. When a problem happens at a project site in the northeast, the best person to solve it may be on the road elsewhere in the country, or may be a retired employee turned consultant. Access to this person becomes hugely valuable. 

Advanced tools and systems are needed for on-demand capture and sharing of issues from the field to remote subject matter experts – not later today or tomorrow via an email, but right now. And to be effective, we need not only text but also the full audio/visual story of issues. 

Using a modern enterprise app platform, a worker encountering an issue can easily capture checklist or form-based information, while augmenting these with pictures, video clips and voice markups. They can then immediately share “the whole scoop” with a remote team of subject matter experts for rapid discussion, ideation and resolution.  

Keeping a digital finger on the pulse of operations 

A steady stream of fresh field data is the vital lifeblood of any organization. As hard as it may seem to believe, today many organizations still use paper forms, spreadsheets, emails and conversations as their “eyes and ears” to get this data. 

These methods are slow, inefficient, error prone and hard to standardize. Critical issues such as equipment flaws or unsafe conditions may stay hidden in the shadows until they cause work disruption, downtime or accidents.  

But what if we could quickly map processes into easy-to-use mobile apps that you could pull out of your pocket and use on demand? 

With a modern enterprise mobility platform, data collection and analysis is easy. Client admins can quickly configure and publish fully customized mobile apps with forms for each process. 

Instead of the days or weeks it takes to submit, scan or manually type in information, data is uploaded instantaneously. For instance, using a central cloud database, a manager can run a real-time analytics report to visualize the top five quality defects over the past 90 days to prioritize resources where they are needed the most.  

With these custom mobile apps, the promise of a real-time, data-driven business can now be achieved. 

Attracting, engaging and retaining top talent 

Let’s be frank, who gets excited about filling out a form? Yet, managers routinely expect employees to not only do this, but do it diligently and report high-quality information from the field day in and day out. 

As a result there is a major disconnect between “what the management says and demands” and “what the workers hear and do.” According to a recent Gallup survey, 70 percent of the U.S. workforce is disengaged! Not surprisingly, companies are looking for ways to bridge this gap.  

With their personal nature and reach, mobile devices and apps provide a golden opportunity to earn the elusive attention that an employee may give to work-related topics outside of regular working hours and beyond core duties. Empowered employees are much more likely to initiate, participate and be visible with solving issues affecting safety, quality and productivity. 

Among the so-called “digital-native” generation of workers, paper forms and clipboards are viewed as relics of the past and emblematic of a backward organization. In addition to all of the operational benefits of mobile technology discussed here, enterprises are also taking advantage of mobile apps to project a progressive image to employees, customers and partners. 

Ultimately, it’s the inclination of employees to pay attention to their mobile devices that will pay off in a variety of ways critical to businesses. And modern mobile app platforms are the key to unlocking that potential. 

Babak Sardary is the CEO and co-founder of ScoopMAE, which provides an all-in-one platform to help organizations mobilize easily and scalably. Previously he was the president and chief technology officer of Braintech Inc. He can be reached at bsardary@scoopmae.com

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