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Small Business Digest


How Mobilizing the Enterprise Can Improve Productivity, Profits

Mobilizing the enterprise can improve productivity, reduce paperwork and improve profitability in any organization that has a significant percentage of the workforce in the field. 

According to Lisa Duke, CEO of Simplified Technology Solutions, "If everyone in your company sits in front of a PC and a phone all day, you may not have a need for a mobile investment," says Duke.  "However, there is definitely a trend toward distributed workforces, which makes communication more of a challenge."
For sales teams who run from appointment to appointment without time to go back to the office (or even boot up a laptop in a wireless hot spot), wireless email can be a huge timesaver. 

Imagine a sales representative who leaves a morning appointment to meet another potential client over lunch only to spend 20 minutes waiting on a client - after the client sent an email at 10:30 that morning saying they'd have to reschedule the lunch.

Taking mobility beyond email can have productivity gains as well. 

 "A mobile device allows you to turn downtime into productive time," adds Duke.  By mobilizing enterprise systems, orders can be entered while a salesperson is waiting on their next appointment. 

And capturing that revenue faster allows enterprises to meet year-end or quarter-end reporting deadlines, which can have a bottom line impact on revenue and stock prices.  A small gain multiplied across a large organization can really add up.
But sales is not the only department that spends a large majority of its' time out of the office.  For organizations doing installations of home electronics, being able to do a lookup to a corporate database to confirm the customer's address can save the workers' time and avoid customer frustration. 

And when that lookup is integrated with mapping software on the device, the smartphone can then provide turn by turn directions to the appointments.  The installer could then add comments to the record that would be helpful to billing or for future service calls and update directly to the corporate database.
"With BlackBerry, integration to existing corporate databases is easier than ever," Duke says. 

Advancements in MDS, BlackBerry's rapid application development solution, mean these projects are now affordable to even midsize organizations.   This reduction in effort and cost mean that midsize organizations can integrate systems down to the smartphone in ways that used to only be in reach for the Fortune 500.
All these productivity gains can help close the gap between organizations performing work and receiving revenue. 

As an example, Duke says, "Imagine a company that services equipment on a client site."

The process works something like this:

Today, the worker performs the work and at the end of the week  writes his hours on a paper timesheet.  The time sheet is submitted the following Monday, and a week later an office administrative worker has keyed the data into a timekeeping system to pay the employee.  Then, a report is printed and given to the billing department, who takes a week or so to key that into the billing system and then produce an invoice.  The invoice is printed and mailed to the client.  You could easily have a month of lag time before the client is billed, and if the client is net 30, another 30 days of hoping the client pays before you can even follow up.
"Now imagine a system where everything is integrated end to end.  At the end of the day, the mobile worker enters his time," Duke argues.

"The next morning it is in front of the person who pays the worker and the person who bills the client.  Both office workers briefly review and approve the entered data, and because they don't have to key anything in, the bill could literally be in the client's email "in" box 24 hours after the work is performed.  You've just taken an entire month off your lag time and greatly sped up collections," she says.

Information Technology workers can improve service to their internal customers, too.  Mobile solutions exist for remote administration of systems, so in towns where traffic is a major consideration, if a user locks themselves out and the administrator is out of the office, the administrator can reset their password from a smartphone.

Attorneys also find they are able to improve service to their clients by adding software to their smartphones to allow them to access documents stored on file servers or Sharepoint from the BlackBerry.
But all these enhancements to productivity aren't just for corporations - goverment can benefit as well.  Rapid-Ask by STS, an off-the-shelf solution for BlackBerry that allows non-technical users to roll out questionnaires and checklists, can be used by health inspectors, building inspectors, elevator inspectors, and many more users. 

"Anyone who currently captures information on a paper form could see productivity gains from solutions in the mobile space," says Duke, "we've only begun to scratch the surface of what's possible."

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