Other than the games “Candy Crush” and “Words With Friends,” what else can a mobile app provide for the user? Mobile apps have evolved far beyond games and entertainment and now assist at least 66% of small business owners in running their businesses. Technology has transformed international commerce, and the recent prioritization of mobile devices over desktop computers has caused yet another transformation in retail and trade. The future of global enterprise will be implemented by an ever-growing web of systems-development, productivity-focused applications and end-user engagement that seamlessly connects consumers to providers and providers to everyone in between. Enterprise Resource Planning is the development of corporate-specific software applications to improve internal corporate communications and processes.
In the retail setting, mobile applications have engaged consumers around the world by bringing product images, information and detail directly to them through the magic of their handheld devices. Shoppers can find what they want, order it, pay for it and direct its delivery from wherever they are sitting at the moment.
In the business world, a business-to-business (B2B) app connects marketers with manufacturers and manufacturers with suppliers. Producers are no longer limited by geography or time when purchasing supplies and materials. Instead, through the internet, they can access resources from suppliers around the globe, reducing their costs of production, increasing their profit and allowing them access to new consumer bases.
The evolving expertise of proprietary mobile applications refines this process even further. Businesses can now develop software specifically designed for proprietary purposes to connect their staff and departments with each other, no matter where the individual corporate aspect might be located. The Enterprise Resource Plan identifies the “enterprise apps” to be created. These sophisticated programs can be then be tailored to exacting specifications, and implemented through a series of modules, or through a single, complex program. The goal is to maximize the efficiency of all aspects of the company by connecting them with the data and information they need at specific moments and for specific purposes. All the varying parts of a company – human resources, sales, inventory, finance, accounting, etc. – can be included in the technology system to ensure complete connectedness and access. In the end, the corporate entity can achieve improved productivity and enhanced decision-making capacity, as the technology delivers up-to-the-minute data and analysis of its activities and resources.
Devising the Enterprise Resource Plan for enterprise-wide implementation needs an over-arching perspective, to ensure that all corporate aspects – both challenges and assets – are connected appropriately. It is very much like hiring an executive manager: expertise in specific subjects is necessary, as well as deep comprehension of mid- and long- range goals. To start the process of planning this resource development project, here are a few items to keep in mind:
1. Operating Systems: There are a variety of technologies that power phones, tablets, smartwatches, and other mobile devices. The apps that function within each tech system do not operate on the other systems. Corporations have some options on how to ensure their entire enterprise has access to all available technological resources:
A – Often (maybe too often), employees access their company data through their personal devices, a “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) solution to staying connected. Although passwords are usually required and information can be encrypted, use of personal devices presents security challenges and raises the concern of intermingling personal and business information. To alleviate this security risk, the corporation could provide company-owned technology for all its staff, so only one processing technology is required across the entity. Purchasing tablets for every employee could be expensive, depending on the number of staff involved, but it may be less expensive than the next possibility:
B – The corporation could ensure that every app is developed for each major type of technology employees are likely to use. More time and resources would be required to accomplish this goal, and the complete development process takes much longer. Each technology platform upgrades in its own time, so the development team must be prepared to make applicable app updates as needed. Since “connectedness” is the goal, the choice of devices used should be based on how to best connect corporate departments to each other over time.
2. Upgradable and Scalable: It is clear that the evolution of technology and software will never end, so there will always be an opportunity to improve processes through upgrades. Upgrading will need to be accomplished across the entire company. “Push Notifications” can be used to alert users to newer versions of the existing technology. These can be programmed for each OS, or, if the enterprise has elected only one technology, then a single notice could have the capacity to move all employees forward to the newer version.
Scalability allows for more people and processes to be added to the existing system over time as the corporation grows. New users can simply be entered into the system. New systems will need to be compatible and integrated with existing systems to be completely effective.
3. Accessibility – Cloud versus Device Storage and Processing: The issue here is whether to download company information into all end devices (which raises security and proprietary concerns), or have the devices access the information stored at a single location (in the cloud, for example). Internet connection is necessary to access cloud storage, and that may not be available in all areas where the company is doing business. Determine which corporate aspects can be ‘untethered’ from the ‘net, and which aspects will require internet access when planning this part of the strategy.
The mobile application has ushered in a brave new world of international commerce, and its next phase promises to connect businesses to each other and their customer base like never before. Thoughtful, considered adoption of Enterprise Resource Planning can connect all aspects of the entity to each other, improving the function and productivity of each. Planning the new system with an eye on the costs involved and the prospect of future opportunities will ensure that the enterprise will be prepared to face whatever the technological future brings.
To discuss the future of your enterprise resource plan, contact us today.