Enterprise Mobility solutions can leverage ERP Systems

By Makarand Sawant , General Manager - IT Facilities, Deepak Fertilizers

Deepak Fertilizers and Petrochemicals Corporation Ltd. is a manufacturer and supplier of industrial chemicals like methanol, nitric acid, ammonium nitrate and micronutrient fertilizers. Headquartered in Pune, the company has a market cap of Rs 1,395.40 crores.

Many enterprise level companies, experienced rapid growth both organically and through acquisition in the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s only to see an economic retrenchment in business in the new millennium. The resulting economic challenges manifest organizational inefficiencies which feature several disconnected functional and regional silos, each with a set of locally optimized processes. In order to meet future growth and profitability plans, as well as to meet market demands for adopting new Mobile electronic business, companies need to launch a program to implement Mobility solutions that leverage key information from an ERP system. Companies had been purposefully slow to adopt ERP, and for many months, if not years, found themselves relying on the quality of existing legacy systems tailored for each unique business need or perception. As a part of their long and challenging ERP implementation process, companies are expecting to use what they learned from their experience and leverage a substantial ERP infrastructure investment while preparing to take advantage of the benefits of Mobility software offers.

Multiple Platforms and Devices
The mobile market is and will remain heavily fragmented, this does not just refer to the multiple versions of each operating system, but also the fact that people still own feature phones as they only require SMS features and therefore do not see the need to adopt Smartphones to use advanced features such as apps. Add to this the multiple OS’s, multiple screen sizes and a higher number of devices and you can see the potential headache IT departments face with while tackling mobility.

The mobile market is still in its infancy meaning constant innovations are leading to new mobile devices and operating systems to emerge on a regular basis. It is not uncommon for the four giants in this market (RIM, Google, Apple and Microsoft )to release updates of their platform up to three or four times a year, this is a vast contrast to traditional IT where new releases tend to be every two to three years. The rate of speed in which mobile is innovating is bound to stretch IT processes such as project management, release management and will add further complexities for IT departments to resolve with an ever shrinking budget.

Native Apps vs. Browser
Many developers are faced with the decision of whether to run natively on the device or via browser, for me this is not a question of one or the other but both. The reason I say this is that frequent and intense users doing business transactions will want an experience in the form of a native app, while the browser will remain the fallback for users with more occasional needs.

Mobile developers frustrated with the costs of building native mobile apps for multiple platforms rely more on the browser, with ever improving mobile browser experiences this may not seem a bad thing.

Security and User Interface
As with Cloud computing, one of the main concerns surrounding mobile adoption is security. Addressing security issues adds another complexity to developing mobile applications and can incur high costs.

As a direct and opposite reaction to the complexity of desktop and client server applications, mobile apps are much narrower in scope and therefore easier to use. To be successful and address the lack of screen size, the apps have to be highly relevant and very straightforward – users have no patience to figure them out and there is no mechanism for cumbersome manuals.

The diversity of the platforms and the need to develop for the native device coupled with the purpose-built design of the apps will be very different from the browser-based development. This means a much greater focus on the overall user experience, not just the layout on the screen and the interactions but how you actually choose and design the narrow functions of the app. Many of the app vendors are hiring developers from the gaming world since the combination of native development and great UI most closely match the mobile app requirement.

Connectivity To Enterprise Applications CRM, ERP and Many more
One of the main opportunities for mobile usage in the enterprise is the ability to integrate a mobile app into the execution of day-to-day business processes. As it stands mobile applications lack the functionality to communicate with enterprise applications at the core of a business, this further extends the development process and requires prior knowledge of the core applications that the mobile application is required to connect to.

Lack of Developer Skills
Another challenge that I thought worth mentioning is the lack of developer availability due to the fact that the mobile market and the main platforms used are at a fairly early stage, this is having an effect on enterprise IT as developers with the required skill set are in high demand and that comes with a high price tag.

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