Three Manufacturing Mobility Trends

A look at three prominent manufacturing industry mobility trends: leveraging mobile technology to enhance customer relationships, choosing the right devices and single platform management software.

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Chris KoenemanChris Koeneman

More than any other industry, manufacturing relies on mobile technology for operational efficiency and global connectivity. Every year, manufacturers consume 23 percent of all services provided by the enterprise mobility market. What else are these organizations doing to keep up with the rapid evolution of mobile technology?

Despite the unique nature of enterprise mobility from one program to the next, many manufacturing companies are currently working to overcome similar challenges and achieve congruent results. Let’s discuss three prominent manufacturing industry mobility trends: leveraging mobile technology to enhance customer relationships, choosing the right devices and single platform management software.

The Customer Always Comes First

Enterprise mobility’s innovation is having dramatically positive impacts on manufacturers’ customer engagement functions. In fact, 81 percent of today’s CEOs believe mobile technology is critical to their company’s customer engagement tactics. It’s also why 87 percent of manufacturing organizations admit mobility programs are more important to them now than ever before.

Successfully managed mobility provides manufacturing enterprises with the capabilities required to seamlessly integrate Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems into other tasks like distributed order management, pricing and fulfillment. These integrations are increasing customer responsiveness and giving organizations the ability to communicate on customers’ terms for the first time.

Today’s mobility programs are also improving customer feedback gathering efforts, which in turn make business decisions more informed and impactful. Manufacturers are leveraging customer insights to refine product/service offerings and create self-service options where desired. Employees equipped with secure mobile devices can also increase organizational efficiency by up to 38 percent.

Sales and marketing efforts are also empowered by enterprise mobility. New technologies help these teams deliver more complete and accurate quotes to customers in just minutes — even if it’s a complicated custom product/service. Innovative mobility has increased sales productivity for 44 percent of manufacturers, customer satisfaction for 29 percent and inventory/fulfillment accuracy for 23 percent.

Choosing the Perfect Device

The answer to this question is different for every company, and depends entirely on program strategy and objectives. Smartphones, while not optimally efficient for every task, are flexible devices capable of supporting dozens of differentially sourced applications and increasing overall workforce productivity.

Rugged devices, on the other hand, effectively handle heavy-duty enterprise functions and feature more robust support capabilities for other enterprise technologies like Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and Global Positioning Systems (GPS).

Accountability and cost allocation factors into this decision as well. Consumer-grade devices can be assigned to individual employees, creating granular billing and reporting capabilities program-wide. Rugged devices are typically used by multiple employees, meaning their assignment is more accurate at a specific department or cost center level.

Both device types are sourced and procured distinctly as well. Enterprise smartphone equipment and logistics markets are vast and virtually endless in terms of choices, driving down initial purchase costs. Deploying these consumer-grade devices globally is a straightforward and relatively rapid process.

The specialized nature of rugged devices makes sourcing and procurement tasks more difficult and expensive to undertake at the start. Longstanding hardware and software manufacturer partnerships must be navigated, making global deployments more tedious and time-consuming. However, organizations that leverage these devices uncover long-term cost efficiency. Over time, rugged device Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is roughly 50 percent cheaper due to device lifespans that last more than twice as long as their consumer-grade counterparts.

Regardless of which device type most effectively satisfies mobility program needs, asset tracking and lifecycle management are must-haves for any manufacturing enterprise. Partnering with a Mobility Management Platform (MMP) and integrating Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) software provides a centralized device management system from which program-wide security updates can be performed concurrently, new device and application provisioning can occur universally, and user behavior can be managed globally.

Complete lifecycle management and around-the-clock support is a necessity for manufacturing employees, as their work environment is much more potentially dangerous to mobile devices than the average industry. Extreme temperatures and elevated risks of debris and damage require MMP-empowered mobility efforts that give users multiple support options and ensure safe device procurement and retirement workflows.

Centralized Mobility Management

As legacy Information Technology (IT) and mobile technology management begins to converge, manufacturers are finding tremendous value in singular, software-first management solutions. In fact, 44 percent of all manufacturing firms are either currently in the process of or planning to integrate their enterprise technology management systems into a single software platform within the next 12 months.

An expert MMP partner not only reduces mobility’s internal management burden, but also reduces program risk and operating costs while simultaneously improving customer service efficiency, speeding up production cycles, streamlining organizational operations, and ensuring employee policy compliance.

Single platform management evolves enterprise mobility past device management toward securing endpoint applications and data, allowing manufacturing companies to take advantage of Application Programming Interface (API)-driven IT infrastructure that’s capable of executing innovation-driving analytics tasks. Consistent capabilities, a consolidated technology database, and one software interface are powerful tools for any organization to harness.

Leveraging a centralized MMP solution provides a manufacturer with the tools and expertise needed to create competitive advantages. In the not-too-distant future, the manufacturing industry will be almost impossible to compete in without a unified set of IT objectives, technology requirements, and program goals. Will your organization be ready?

Chris Koeneman is the Senior Vice President of Sales at MOBI.

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