March Madness just ended, and having taken over offices, precious business hours and internet bandwidth all over the country. But college hoops isn’t the only madness that’s captured businesses’ time and attention: mobile madness is also in full effect. Mobile devices aren’t only pervasive in our personal lives, but they’re also relied upon outside of the office, traveling with workers so they can access their work anytime and anywhere.
A recent Sage survey showed manufacturing and distribution companies are increasingly using mobile devices to remotely access work-related information, with smartphones (78 percent) and tablets (63 percent) the most common devices used by employees, followed by laptops (41 percent). And – unlike checking your NCAA bracket pool during business hours – business owners don’t have a problem with work going outside of the office, as nine out of ten manufacturers and distributors see positive results from employees’ use of mobile devices for work.
Over 14,000 manufacturing and distribution jobs were added to the economy in February. As this sector continues to grow, there’s great opportunity for mobile devices to contribute to business growth. The Sage survey found that mobility is becoming increasingly important to manufacturers as 31 percent use mobile devices to retrieve sales information while in the field interfacing with clients. Mobile technology has also helped expedite business transactions through retrieval of company information (such as company catalogs), faster credit authorizations, and access to email as well as decrease organizational time for sales reps and clerical staff.
In general, people are looking to work beyond the “four walls.” For some, it is even a necessity for success. Take mobile salespeople, for example. They need as much data as possible to close a sale. They need to be able to access their catalog of items, create sales quotes and even compare their sales number against their team’s performance and goals. With mobile business applications, they can do this anywhere; they’re no longer tethered to the office.
Minneapolis-based Satellite Industries, a top global supplier of portable sanitation equipment, understands the benefits of operating in a global, mobile environment.
“We’re increasingly faced with the need to operate 24/7 throughout all sections of our supply chain,” says John Babcock vice president at Satellite Industries. “I can sit here at my desk in Minnesota, complete a quote for a customer in Germany, and then send off that quote in German with the amounts in Euros. Even better, I can perform the same task, just as effectively, from my iPad at the coffee shop, using an app we created for Sage ERP X3. I can now update accounts and conduct business from any corner of the world.”
For many businesses, the mobile device is an extension of the office. They afford employees the freedom to leave the office, while maintaining the connectivity necessary to keep business moving forward wherever they are. Mobility also supports collaboration of internal teams by enabling seamless integration between the field and the office, as well as eliminating potential bottlenecks between departments. And, for some businesses, mobile devices provide a technologically advanced, yet affordable, business management system.
The Girl Scouts have started catching Mobile Madness as well. Nearly 40 councils in 26 states have been using Sage Mobile Payments to allow consumers to purchase Samoas, Tagalongs, Thin Mints and other Girl Scout cookie varieties.
"This is the second year our troops are accepting mobile payments for cookie sales,” says Hezron Gurley, chief financial officer for Fresno, Calif.-based Girl Scouts of Central California South. “Troop members and leaders tell us being able to accept a credit card leads to more spontaneous purchases, as well as more boxes sold per transaction. The girls also like not having to manage as much cash. Initial pre-sales and sales-to-date are, so far, up more than 4 percent over results for the 2012 Cookie Program."
During the last two weeks of the Big Dance, employees across the country were doing their own “dance” on their mobile devices. Between checking sales orders, emails and inventory, folks were likely toggling their apps and browsers, checking on game scores and their brackets. According to IDC’s recent Smart Connected Device Tracker report, the tablet market is expected to reach year-on-year growth of 48.7% while the smartphone market is anticipated to expand 27.2% in 2013. Though the NCAA season ended earlier this week, mobile madness, on the other hand, will continue its madness, growing as the year progresses.