Home Asia-Pacific II 2009 Mobilising the workforce

Mobilising the workforce

by david.nunes
Paul BlinkhornIssue:Asia-Pacific II 2009
Article no.:4
Topic:Mobilising the workforce
Author:Paul Blinkhorn
Title:Australia Country Manager, Vice President of Motorola’s Enterprise Mobility business, Australia and New Zealand and Asia-Pacific Channels
PDF size:192KB

About author

Paul Blinkhorn is Motorola’s Australia Country Manager and Vice President of its Enterprise Mobility business in Australia, New Zealand and the Asia-Pacific region. Mr Blinkhorn has 30 years’ experience in the ICT sector. Mr Blinkhorn joined Motorola from Palm where he was the Vice President and Managing Director for Asia Pacific. Prior to Palm, Mr Blinkhorn served at Compaq/HP in various leadership roles, including Vice President, Asia Pacific, responsible for the Industry Standard Server Division, Vice President and Managing Director for Compaq Asean, Managing Director for Compaq New Zealand, and Sales Director for Compaq Australia. Just prior to Compaq’s merger with HP, Mr Blinkhorn was Vice President of the Access Business Group. Prior to Compaq, Paul held senior management positions at Olivetti Australia.

Article abstract

There is a significant difference between mere mobile communications and a truly mobile business environment. By fully integrating all of an organisation’s communications and systems, employees, wherever located, can easily access whatever corporate applications and data they need to do their job. Further, fixed mobile convergence makes it possible to reach an employee, using a single number, no matter where they are. Enterprise grade mobile devices can be managed, secured and updated remotely for the entire organisation in a matter of minutes.

Full Article

The British historian Arnold Toynbee summarized history as ‘challenge and response’. It is indeed true that nations and organisations alike that wish to be at the forefront must respond to the challenges by walking the innovation edge. Advancements in enterprise mobility technologies present a compelling opportunity for enterprises across the Asia-Pacific region and the chance to innovate their enterprise structures and the way they conduct their business. The Asia Pacific region includes mature markets like those of Japan, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Taiwan, which now present some of the best use cases in the world, and emerging giants like China and India, who combined together present the single largest market for telecom and mobility technologies. Together they constitute a billion strong wireless subscriber base. China had 649.72 million subscribers at the beginning of the year. India had 376.12 million wireless subscribers and 413.85 million total telecom subscribers. These numbers and human enterprise are creating new paradigms in each market; China has emerged as the global manufacturing hub and India is fast becoming the services industry hub of the world. Asia-Pacific countries have the choice to leap frog the technology evolution path and adopt today’s most advanced telecom ecosystem. As enterprise mobility technologies mature, more and more Asia Pacific businesses, including small, medium or large enterprise will be able to leverage ‘true’ mobility and access the best most advanced applications. According to IDC, businesses are demanding more value from vendors and have a greater focus on total cost of ownership. The global economic meltdown is forcing businesses to re-think their IT policies and IT investment plans, focusing on cost-efficient, long-term options. There are a number of examples of class leading use of mobility technologies by restaurants, the hospitality, retail and logistics and healthcare sectors, where there is growing uptake of wireless local area network (WLAN) and mobility technologies. Outstanding examples include Sir Run Run Shaw hospital in Beijing, China and Bumrungrand hospital in Thailand. It is remarkable how quickly the world has progressed since the mobile phone became a mainstream reality more than twenty years ago. Those once clunky devices coincided with the arrival of email and the Internet as a set of technologies which have transformed the way we communicate, share information and conduct business. Communication has always been essential to human activity; today we take for granted all that mobile phones can do. We access email, take photographs, send text messages, use the Internet and listen to music on our mobile phones. We wonder how we ever managed without this transformation in mobile communications – and mobile evolution is still under way. Ubiquitous wireless technology has taken connectivity to new levels and digital standards have opened a world of opportunities for the enterprise. Significant wireless bandwidth and converged networks have opened new possibilities in workforce mobility delivered via powerful handheld devices. However, there is a significant difference between true mobility and portability, which is more common. Despite the possibilities afforded by technological evolution, mobility is still dominated by consumer-grade devices offering traditional voice, or voice and data services. Few note the highly sophisticated mobile devices that couple basic communications with access to critical business systems and data. Industries such as supply chain and retail have harnessed this technology for years, giving true mobility to their workforces and directly improving their bottom line. For example, transport and logistics workers use enterprise-grade mobile devices to scan barcodes on freight and instantly update back-end inventory systems giving the end customer real-time track-and-trace visibility. The traditional mobile phone has done all it can for the enterprise. Now, with convergence, management can get more from its mobile investments. Enterprise functionality is now found in the form factor of consumer-grade devices and true mobility is ready for the mainstream. True mobility To get the most out of mobility, it has to provide a real-time connection between enterprise voice and business systems and the workforce. Communications alone is only one part of the enterprise mobility equation. Giving staff the power to interact with business-specific applications and databases away from their desks is a key driver of productivity and operational efficiency. A truly mobile workforce can access all enterprise tools – phone, email, real-time back-end applications – on a single device built for everyday business anywhere, anytime. Instead of having voice and computing on different devices, workers inside and outside the company are fully connected, on a single device, to all the company’s ICT applications. This shifts the focus from mobile business communication to true mobility. When a company adopts mobility, their needs are quite different from those for consumer voice and data communications. Enterprise applications call for highly secure devices that can be remotely managed. Next generation mobile solutions are designed to meet rigorous enterprise demands in a manner that consumer-grade devices cannot. The concept of enterprise-grade true mobility often brings to mind clunky brick-like devices that are difficult to manage. However, today’s mobile enterprise devices have consumer-style ergonomics to bring true mobility to new industries such as health and mobile field force automation. What is new with true mobility? True mobility exploits converged next generation networks and creates significant business opportunities for telco operators. There is an untapped market for operators and application service providers who specialise in developing tailored mobile solutions for business. Real-time connections to business systems improve workforce productivity and overall efficiency wherever operations take place or business is transacted. It empowers the individual worker, and gives access to critical information so they can make better decisions. Armed with a comprehensive set of productivity tools, workers can strip time and duplication from daily processes. Data can be captured instantly and paper forms and associated manual errors are eliminated. Business systems are kept up to date with more accurate, real-time data. Managers find that sophisticated mobile solutions increase visibility into the business. Management can incorporate real-time facts into decisions, improving throughput and production management. Inventory levels can be reduced and turnover increased, by responding to peaks and troughs in demand more efficiently. In turn, staff can be scheduled more economically to help control labour costs. The ability to scan product barcodes out in the field increases quality in the information chain, especially for the track-and-trace applications that are critical in industries where government regulations require end-to-end product traceability. For example, in the pharmaceutical industry, the ability to scan samples in a doctor’s office reaches beyond streamlining data collection to allow rapid location and recall of counterfeit products. At first glance, consumer style devices (mobile phones, smartphones and PDAs) appear more cost effective than an enterprise-class device. There will always be workers who need nothing more than voice and occasional email communication; however, for road warriors and other mobile employees who need constant access to information located in critical back-end systems, it pays to consider the mobility solution’s total cost of ownership. There is constant pressure to make business more efficient, use less dollars and resources. Merging phone, PDA and laptop into a single device translates into less management time and cost. Typical consumer devices are not rugged enough for the enterprise; they are designed as commodities with a 12 to 24 month lifecycle. An enterprise-grade integrated voice and data device can last up to seven years, more than three times longer than a consumer device and provides service cover that extends beyond its expected lifespan. This is critical to CIOs looking to secure and maintain a standard operating environment (SOE). Labour costs for configuration and troubleshooting on consumer devices can reach up to US$100 per device. By comparison, enterprise devices are configurable, automatically, over the air. Remote management solutions provide IT with centralised end-to-end control of devices, and the ability to stage and update thousands of devices in minutes rather than months. Central management facilitates the handling of security issues raised by business mobility. With immense amounts of data being transferred wirelessly, or stored in phones and laptops, virus protection and management are a major concern. Traditional mobile devices are not built with the security of sensitive data in mind. A lost PDA containing confidential emails is a major security breach. Centralised device management is a deciding factor in many organisations’ decision to take on true mobility. Workforces cannot do business anywhere, anytime unless their data is safe. This is only possible when IT can monitor devices 24/7, quickly update patches to eliminate weaknesses, detect, lock and wipe devices that may be lost or stolen, or enable a mobile virtual private network (VPN) to ensure the security of highly sensitive data. Overall, going beyond the limited functionality of consumer devices introduces a host of benefits that influences spending, efficiency and productivity. Unshackle staff There is so much more to the anatomy of mobility than voice, email and calendars. Its evolution during the previous twenty years is only the tip of the iceberg; new paradigms in cloud computing, GPS enabled location-based services, virtual healthcare, customer service and business transparency have only begun to be explored. The integration of robust voice and data capabilities into a single, enterprise-grade device and the virtual services made possible by fixed mobile convergence are pushing enterprise frontiers. E-health, field automation and e-education delivered via highly powerful mobile devices are possibilities that go beyond traditional mobility and are fast becoming a reality. In the face of economic challenges, the adoption of true mobility will grow rapidly as organisations seek ways to make workforces more efficient and cost less. When workers can access business applications in the field, the benefits will extend throughout the business and to the bottom line.

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