Mobilizing Enterprise Business Processes

November 30th, 2011Mobility

Just as the invention of the steam engine enabled a wealth of process level innovations in manufacturing, leading to significant efficiency and productivity improvements, mobile computing today has an intriguing potential to revolutionize business workflows across most industries. We have already started to see innovative uses of mobile applications in field-based sales and service processes, patient care, supply chain, claims processing, retail, inventory management and logistics – with limitless other possibilities.

According to Forrester1, organizations will be spending $7.6 billion by 2015 to re-engineer and re-invent the business processes and back-end systems to implement completely digital end-to-end, “straight-through” mobile business processes. This will be in addition to the $5.6 billion they will be spending on building mobile apps the same year.

The challenge for organizations is to identify which business processes and functions will deliver the most business value for mobile enablement and what is necessary to make the technology work effectively. To answer these questions, organizations should take a step back and look in detail at the routine of daily business workflow. They should try to figure out not only if the business processes can be optimized to make mobile workers more productive, but also if the work can be done in a better way with the use of new mobile technologies.

It is imperative to understand that enterprise mobility is not only about task optimization. If all you are doing is reformatting a web form for a mobile browser or building a mobile app for a standard function which is also available on a traditional PC, you may not be maximizing your opportunities. It is important to rethink how core business services can be delivered on mobile devices end-to-end with value-add. The potential for business process innovation on mobile devices is due to a number of factors which include extreme mobility, new rich sensors, new user experience paradigms, continuous connectivity, and cloud-based services.

For example, you may be able to improve the business value by leveraging sensors on the mobile devices such as using GPS and location-based services for field appraisals, using still cameras to scan bar codes, using video cameras for capturing footage for insurance claims, or leveraging Near Field Communication (NFC) chips for mobile payments. Bluetooth connectivity opens up other possibilities such as adding industry sensors. You may also want to extend standalone applications with cloud-based services such as providing text translation, traffic information, voice recognition, or video analytics services which rely on a range of powerful back-end services and databases. Marrying social computing capabilities with mobile devices creates a web of interconnected devices that are aware of each other in close locations, improving employee collaboration.

Therefore, organizations should not be focusing on building replicas of individual PC-based functions, but instead identify and analyze potential business workflows under the light of the new mobility paradigm and ask the question how new business value can be created. A well executed, mobile-enabled business process will allow you to improve customer satisfaction, supply chain optimization, field service productivity, and employee productivity offering new value potential and revenue streams.


 1 Forrester Research, Inc. – “Mobile App Internet Recasts the Software and Services Landscape”, February 28, 2011

Tags-   Consumerization of IT Forrester Research Mobility