Can An App Help Your Run Your Business Better? Find Out: Mobile Power And The Age Of Business Intelligence (Part 2)
This is Part 2 of a two-part article. For Part 1, click here.
Since the turn of the 20th century, the need for efficiency has driven the manufacturing industry to forge technological advances. With each new device or, today, computer program, production increased in speed and quality while reducing waste and overhead cost.
The acceleration of Information Technology (IT) is exponentially rapid. While it took over 80 years for companies to effectively implement business intelligent computer software into their systems, the migration to portable and mobile applications has occurred only in the last five years. The cutting edge is now equivalent to the competitive edge. And the demand for technology to be fast, intuitive, and wireless pushes the envelope on a daily — rather than yearly — basis.
Manufacturers might find this breakneck pace of technology daunting. Companies with traditional machinery and time-honored methods of production might think to themselves, ”I just updated our system!” or “But we have a website!” Understanding the advantages of using mobile applications built for iOS and Android smart-phones and tablets (such as the iPad) over computer programs is the key to keeping up with technology and, in turn, the market.
Advantages of Mobile Apps
- iOS and Android devices are easier to use and less costly to maintain than computers.
- The popularity of smart devices has led many employees to purchase their own and bring them to work. This is cost effective for companies looking to implement new technology on a budget.
- The Intuitive Utility of native applications is familiar to employees who currently own a smart device. Also, many people find working on a tablet, such as the iPad, more pleasant than staring at a computer screen.
- Smart devices can be more sophisticated than an average personal computer. For example, the iPhone has two microphones, three speakers, a headphone jack, a proximity sensor, a gyroscope, and an accelerometer. It keeps track of the states of all of these and adjusts to how it is being used.
- Tablets and smart phones are smaller, lighter, and therefore more portable than laptop computers.
Enterprise App — Enterprise applications are developed to make the day-to-day operations within a company and communication between employees and management run more efficiently. Whether it is to coordinate workers in a plant or factory, dispatch order information, or fast-track shipping, an enterprise app is the next step for many manufacturers.
Even within a building, employees are on the go and need fast, efficient solutions that strengthen the company as a team. Outside the facility, drivers, contractors, and other workers rely on timely information and streamlined communication. An enterprise app might include GPS technology, databases, automated record keeping (such as time cards), alerts and notifications, and report generation.
Apple offers an Enterprise App Developer suite. Once an app has been developed either by an in-house software designer or an independent contractor, Apple makes it easy for the company to distribute the app to its employees.
Business-to-Business App — The business-to-business (B2B) app has proven its worth to big companies worldwide such as GE, Cisco, and Federal Express. Clunky computer networks with incompatible programs and devices have been replaced by streamlined applications. Today, the swipe of a finger can perform operations from virtually anywhere.
For manufacturers who deal with other businesses (rather than the general consumer) the advent of mobile apps is a revolution in efficiency. Orders can be received, tracked, and processed around the clock. Troubleshooting and customer service can be handled in minutes. For smaller businesses, this puts the pace of productivity at owners’ fingertips—quite literally.
With a B2B app interface, data mining can be used to track supplies and provide forecasts and predictions for demand. Likewise, the ease of a mobile app can be a way to draw in new customers who seek to make their businesses more efficient. With less waste and more customers, manufacturers will naturally see bigger profits.
Instead, businesses may choose to purchase a ready-made app that has a broad design yet suits their needs. In either case, these applications are available in private app stores where verification is done through the use of an access code thereby ensuring that the general public does not have access to the inner-workings of a private business.
Consumer App — Apple’s slogan of “There’s an app for that,” has become a part of the landscape of consumerism. 91 of the top 100 brands in the world now have a presence in at least one of the major mobile applications stores. Today, people expect the products and services they use to be represented by a useful or entertaining mobile application. Whether it be a game, a GPS locator, or a way to save money or make life simpler, the mobile app is a strong marketing tool.
For manufacturers who deal straight with the public, a consumer app is a great way to increase brand recognition, inform existing customers of products, and engage new customers.
In all, this is an exciting era for businesses—especially manufacturers. Implementing smart device technology creates real results. Easier, faster, leaner — these are the terms that never change when owners discuss their goals for the future of their businesses. Mobile apps are just the next step toward the perfect harmonization of employees, management, product, and customers.
This article was written by Bill Aurnhammer, CEO, Aurnhammer, LLC.
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