Why tablets alone won’t save your mobilized workforce

by Darren McGrath

July 2 2013

Darren McGrath is the global director of mobility solutions at Unisys


Utilize cloud support systems for a successful tablet strategy, says Unisys’ Darren McGrath

Tablets in the enterprise can enable greater end-user productivity and provide strategic value as the foundation of mobility programs that can transform an organization. But tablets alone won't solve your business problems. 

You need to have a cloud-based IT infrastructure that can deliver services to devices that don’t have a lot of local storage, if any. Even more importantly, the tablets need to be part of a multifaceted program that integrates the complete mobile environment.

Mobilizing business processes

Introducing tablets into the workplace can be the catalyst for changing business processes – especially those traditionally driven by the flow of paper. For example, a loan officer for a bank out in the field used to have to go to an applicant’s home, have them fill out and sign the paperwork, take it back to the office, scan it into the office system or submit it for further processing.

With a tablet connected to a wireless network, though, the officer can enter the relevant information directly into a cloud-based application, capture the applicant’s signature digitally and close out the transaction all at one site. This transformation of core business processes makes the individual worker – and the organization – far more efficient. Even more importantly, it simplifies and speeds up customer service.

However, this process improvement works best when accompanied by a comprehensive approach to managing mobile devices, applications and users.  

Mobilizing existing applications

The application environment for mobile devices such as tablets is very different from that of PCs. For example, in a PC environment you can have an ERP system comprising multiple capabilities, such as purchasing and order processing. In a mobile environment, though, each function requires a separate app.

Also, an organization is likely to have many strategic applications – often mainframe-based – that are too complex to rewrite for a mobile environment. So you need to think about front-ending those applications with an interface replicating a look-and-feel with which mobile users are familiar.

If your organization is like a typical enterprise – with upward of 500 important applications that could be mobilized in some way – undertake a programmatic rationalization process to determine which apps are most immediate candidates for mobilization.

Mobile application development

Of course, developing new applications for the tablet environment is just as important a consideration as refurbishing existing ones.  New technologies such as near field communication (NFC) and voice recognition offer exciting possibilities for improving business processes and mobile collaboration.

Let’s take the loan officer again as an example. How much more efficient would she be if she had an app with embedded GPS capabilities to automatically direct her to each customer appointment?

The advantage of monitoring end-user experience

Monitoring end users’ use of tablets through real-time analytics on a service desk is another way to get the most from the mobile environment. By monitoring application, device and network performance to proactively look for issues that affect end-user productivity, IT support teams can rapidly identify the root cause of an impending service event – such as slow application response due to a tablet’s sudden switch from a 4G to a 3G network – and fix the issue or alert the end user before they even notice.

That enables your organization to achieve the high level of productivity that led to the transition to tablets in the first place.

As tablet sales increasingly outstrip those of PCs, we can see that the enterprise is clearly becoming a mobilized environment.  Organizations that move now to accommodate and capitalize on that trend will have a competitive advantage and be better positioned to respond to dynamically evolving business opportunities.

Darren McGrath is the global director of mobility solutions at Unisys

Are you a tablet industry professional, tablet app publisher, or just a visionary with a strong opinion about tablets? We would like you to contribute a vendor-agnostic analysis piece to our Opinions section. Please contact Michael Singer, Business editor.

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