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Enterprise mobility challenge: Your time starts now

Jan 28, 2016

Congratulations! You’re suddenly in charge of assembling and executing an enterprise mobility solution for your company this year. You need to find a field service solution, or possibly a proof of delivery (POD) application — or maybe you’re looking for the right telematics solution to complement your current system.

It’s a bit like finding yourself on the set of a competitive cooking show and being given 90 minutes to create a winning meal on a budget to please all the judges. This can be a daunting test, especially if you don’t regularly cook all that much.

The old adage you don’t know what you don’t know rings very true especially in the IT world. I have watched many companies try to figure it all out on their own over the course of months — and in some cases years; I have met with IT directors of major enterprise organizations who said we’ve been trying to put a solution in place for five or more years.

What’s the common problem? No list, no direction, no understanding of how to get what they need from the amount of resources that are available. The failure point is in an organization trying to decide what will work best, but not understanding the variety of options and solutions available to them.

Even clueless cooks know they can’t just grab a blue box off the supermarket shelf and serve its contents for an important dinner. The idea of finding a winning mobility solution in one box is similarly misguided. Typically, a solution requires multiple vendors working together. A company can waste days, weeks, or months looking for a solution that doesn’t exist as an all-in-one package.

All-in-one basket

For the best results, approach your enterprise mobility challenge much as you would to win a cooking competition:

  1. Create a menu — A menu consists of various courses that complement each other. It should be built around fresh and nourishing ingredients, and meet the desires and dietary requirements of the specific diners. It must fit within the allotted budget, and have a reasonable preparation time. Also, it must be delicious and exciting.
  2. Make a shopping list — Decide in advance what you’re looking for and how close you are to completion. Don’t just wander the aisles.
  3. Shop smart — The quality of ingredients you bring home and the money you pay for them can vary wildly depending on where you buy them. A keen familiarity with products, prices, and suppliers makes all the difference.
  4. Follow a method — Recipes start with a list of ingredients, but they finish with a step-by-step procedure for putting those ingredients together. Understanding this order and timing at the outset are important. Baking powder must be added to cookie batter before baking, not after.

Often, cooking competitions have an experienced chef who guides you through one or all of these steps. This can make all the difference.

Create an enterprise mobility menu

Some companies start with a fixed budget, then look for a solution near that figure. This is called “backing into the solution.” The problem is that by backing into a solution, you automatically start to define your scope around your budget rather than your needs. What if the end result does not meet your company’s needs?

Other companies begin by browsing a wide variety of solutions which may often exceed their needs. Unfortunately, this “big picture” approach often leads to much confusion and lack of decisions because a group can’t decide which pieces are most important. Eventually, they discover that the total cost makes their plan impossible — and now they have already wasted considerable time, only to end up back at square one. Then they hurry to slap together a Plan B, which still may only partly meet their needs.

A winning mobility menu comes together by coordinating both aspects at once. The more knowledge you have about enterprise mobility techniques, what ingredients are available in the marketplace, and what they cost, the better your chances of victory

Make a shopping list

One of the most common stumbling blocks in searching for and implementing a new mobility solution is not building a shopping list at all.

Years ago, the CIO of a very large greeting card company asked me, “How ugly is my baby?” He was asking where the failures were in his company’s system. What things were they missing that would make them more effective? So I helped him build his list.

Smart shopping starts with understanding what you looking for within a large marketplace filled with all sorts of mobile solutions — software, hardware, managed services, are more.

The key to a winning shopping list is finding the ROI (return on investment).

An experienced chef knows when canned tomatoes will work as well or better than fresh ones in a particular dish — and at a lower cost. She understands that boneless chuck makes a better burger than expensive tenderloin. These decisions are based in ROI.

In the same way, ROI valuations must be your guide in assembling your mobility shopping list.

For example, if your company is searching for a telematics solution, is it looking for just GPS? Is it looking for two-way communication? Does it need to be live or passive? Is geofencing important to your company? Will adding a telematics solution enhance your company’s ability to perform?

In short, how much will each component cost, and how will it save money or increase profits in the areas of your business you’re looking to improve?

Only by answering these questions can you narrow down the variables. Between software, hardware, and services, you’ll find a mind-boggling number of solutions out there. The old adage “more is better” does not necessarily fit when you’re looking for a mobile solution. “More” leads to more complications or confusion, and fewer buying decisions being made. Unless you create a very specific well-defined list, your company can be shopping for quite a long time.

Shop smart: supermarket aisle

Smart mobility shopping

When we work with clients, we help them to not only build their list, but understand how to find the components on their list, which may come from a number of different sources. This is the most critical and time-consuming part of a project, because understanding which components can work together and complement existing solutions is difficult unless you really know the industry.

A company must understand where to start looking when defining which solutions would be best suited for them to review. Shopping wisely for the items on your mobility list requires knowledge of the market, familiarity with its suppliers, the history of product lines, industry trends, the latest advances in technology, and much more.

Companies need to have somebody who can help steer the project and keep it on course.  Keeping the team focused on the issues at hand, and finding the parts of the solution that are important, so as not to get deviated and waste valuable time, effort, and money.

Follow a step-by-step method

Why is a well-thought-out rollout important? Let’s say a company is implementing a new route accounting system which involves sales, delivery, and warehouse automation. This is a big project — but I would be lying to you if I said that in all my years, I’ve never seen a company decide mid-project that this would also be the opportune time to replace their back-end system, on which all of the rest depends.

Peer organization efforts often help us to find which areas and components of your solution need to be replaced together. This shouldn’t be a haphazard guess. Your company should stick to a laid-out plan.

Tackling first things first is crucial. Following a predefined order of implementation allows companies to plan and stage the project so that the impact on the organization and the impact on their customers is minimal. Planned adaptation and integration are achieved in ways that create the least disruption. You build a project team under project managers. The pieces go into place following a timetable of milestones, progressing toward success.

Get help from an expert

Cooking competitions are often won by competitors who follow the guidance of an experienced chef.

Mobility consultants who know the solutions and the marketplace can help you identify and define your your list of needs and wants — and ultimately bring together for review the solutions that will work together to give you your desired mobile solution victory

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