“Mobility” seems to be all the rage these days. While mobile devices free us from wired connections, they actually seem to tether us more firmly to our businesses. Professionals are “always on” and “always connected” even when traveling for business, attending a child’s soccer game or on vacation. But do we really have better access to the enterprise data we use to make decisions and run our businesses? Is that connection a tether or a lifeline to the business?
Earlier this year I helped IFS North America with a study conducted to explore interest in and demand for mobile device access to enterprise applications. The study involved a survey of 281 executives of medium to large manufacturers with revenues over $100 million. We were looking to find out:
- how enterprise software is currently accessed via mobile devices
- what types of mobile applications and interfaces respondents are most interested in
- how mobile interfaces may change the way we work
The enterprise applications we were explicitly interested in were
- Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
- Enterprise Asset Management (EAM)
- Business Intelligence (BI)
Only small percentages (27%) are currently performing functions in an enterprise application from their mobile device. This is likely influenced by the limited mobile connectivity of the enterprise applications themselves. Connectivity requires a modern underlying technology not available on legacy applications and older versions of software. While a negligible few rate their level of accessibility as excellent, a third to almost one half (varying by application) have little or no access at all. Interestingly, respondents accessing CRM via a mobile device are more likely to have access, but no more likely to rate it as excellent.
In general, we found manufacturing professionals view the mobile interface as an important consideration in enterprise software selection. The importance of the mobile interface increases proportionally as the amount of personal time invested in the job increases. Not surprising. Efficient use of time is even more important when it is your own.
Today the lines between work and private life are blurred, even in a traditional brick and mortar industry. Mobile access to enterprise software can facilitate this blended lifestyle, but what impact will it have on the way people work, how often they work and where they work? Will this drive new productivity for people who spend time in transit or in other locations where a hand-held, mobile device is the only viable tool? Will it cause work to increasingly encroach on personal time?
While 63% said that remote access would cause them to work more outside normal business hours, only 15% indicate remote access to enterprise data would be MORE disruptive. Easy access through a mobile device, anytime, anywhere, allows a decision maker to connect and act immediately without the disruption of finding an Internet connection and “firing up” – hence the importance of easy and intuitive access.
Mobile access to enterprise software appears to be a tremendous opportunity to increase productivity given that additional work can be completed while in transit, both inside and outside of work hours. While mobility is far from universally available today in enterprise applications, as software users recognize the value, software providers must necessarily respond with features and functions. The ability to connect and respond immediately improves productivity and far outweighs the cost of the intrusion of a mobile device.
Interested in all the full results of the “IFS ERP Mobility Survey; Overview and Projections on Remote Access to Enterprise Data?” Download at http://download.ifsworld.com/ERP_Mobility. (registration required)