Article

How Mobile Data Access Improves Business Operations

IBM i
Posted:
June 27, 2016

Think about this: The number of mobile endpoints worldwide is greater than the global population. With over 7 billion endpoints in 2013, it seems nearly everyone in certain parts of the world now has a smartphone, tablet, or both, and these devices aren't just for fun and games. Organizations have seen how new hardware categories are changing the business landscape, and they're putting devices to work in the drive to streamline processes, gain insight into operations, and ensure continuity.

The Rise of Mobile Business Intelligence and Access to Critical Information

With high-speed 3G and/or 4G LTE data connections now more often the rule than the exception, employees in the field have new options for accessing critical information wherever they are. Mobile business intelligence solutions enable workers to view reports, tables, and documents, as well as analytics about mainframes and other IT systems, in views that are optimized for modern endpoints and web browsers. Real-time access to critical assets translates to faster decision making, regardless of where employees are located.

Moreover, there's an ongoing enterprise shift toward using high-quality mobile applications—data access is an increasingly important part of that shift. According to the most recent Good Technology Mobility Index, there was 54 percent year-over-year growth in mobile application usage in the fourth quarter of 2013: business intelligence and secure web browsers were among the fastest growing utilities.

Companies are making the most of smartphones and tablets. For example, Tony's Fine Foods of Sacramento, CA, uses SEQUEL to stay on top of expense and exception reports by pushing data to mobile devices. This level of continuous access enables the company to more efficiently manage its ledgers and stay profitable. Plus, it demonstrates how mobile endpoints can be turned into essential business tools.

"[A]s these organizations seek to maximize the investment they've made in their mobile strategies and truly take advantage of the mobile devices their employees are carrying, accessing documents and deploying custom apps are rapidly becoming the next major area of focus." —Good Technology Mobility Index.

Mobile Data Access Can Replace Email and Less Efficient Processes

Going forward, expect mobile to become one of the main platforms from which organizations access important data. IBM recently predicted that by 2015, 40 percent of business-oriented endpoints will be mobile devices. So, why are businesses moving so quickly to implement mobile strategies?

For starters, mobile data access means that businesses can replace legacy communications processes such as email with something more efficient. Companies may have once stayed in touch about HR operations via lengthy email chains, but they can now use applications such as social networking tools to keep up-to-date on applicants and materials. For example, Healthcare staffing firm ZurickDavis is able to use mobile data to complete executive searches and fill positions 25 percent faster than it can with just email.

Such productivity gains from having mobile data access are common. It makes sense that companies are making sure that they have access to all sorts of information from smartphones and tablets. According to statistics compiled by ShoreTel Sky in 2013, many key business functions may be accessible from mobile over the next few years:

  • In 2013, slightly less than half of all sales data could be accessed from a handheld device, but that figure could spike to 75 percent by 2015.
  • Similarly, only 31 percent of inventory and ops data was mobile-accessible in 2013. However, the percentage may soon double, reaching 66 percent.
  • Comparable growth trajectories may apply to other data categories, including customer order status, budgets and forecasts, payroll and benefits information, and workforce analytics.

The rise of bring-your-own-device policies has given organizations even more incentive to implement comprehensive mobile data access. Once they do, businesses stand to benefit from more flexibility in pushing important reports and documents to employee-supplied endpoints anywhere in the field. Almost half of enterprises expect to invest more in mobile services because smartphones and tablets are becoming a primary means of viewing and working with critical information.

How Mobile Access to Data Has Improved Operations Such as Sales and Inventory Management

There is an impressive range of use cases for mobile data access, both as an upgrade over legacy processes and as a fresh way of drilling down into reports to improve specific operations such as sales and inventory management. At the same time, being able to tap into server infrastructure and IBM i systems has made it more feasible for organizations to improve customer engagement.

Mobile data access has been a major boon for certain operations:

  • For sales agents, having real-time access to data lets them check on the shipping status of customer orders. Accordingly, they can work with others on the sales or finance teams to optimize processes and reduce costs.
  • Likewise, workers involved with company supply chains can send data back to headquarters for inventory management streamlining.
  • Mobility has also helped healthcare organizations that are increasingly reliant on telemedicine. Physicians and staff can obtain data from anywhere, which makes it easier for them to work from a variety of locations.

Dusty Rivers, GT Software Principal Technical Architect and four-time IBM Champion, outlined how companies around the world have re-architected their IT systems to maximize the benefits of mobile data access. For example, a South African financial services enterprise gave developers the ability to tap into mainframe data, with which they quickly developed new web applications. The resulting solutions now process more than 500 million transactions per day across all channels, and the firm saw a return on investment in only 12 months. Similarly, a regional U.S. bank was able to meet a tight deadline for delivering mobile banking services by turning to new tools that enabled rapid development of user-friendly software.

Mobile access to data is no longer a luxury but a requirement for businesses that have complex operations to run and maintain. While smartphones and tablets are still novelties and could be security risks in the eyes of some IT departments, organizations can leverage secure solutions with browser access such as SEQUEL to view and interact with reports and other information.

From dynamic executive dashboards to easy data distribution, SEQUEL Web Interface is a friendly, interactive, and powerful interface that provides secure mobile data access for all end users. Run views, reports, tables, and scripts directly from your mobile device browser just like you would on a PC.

Learn more about SEQUEL Web Interface.

 

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