Time is ripe for mobility in manufacturing

By Ann Braley Smith, Content Editor, Dell

It’s time to mobilize manufacturing.

The ubiquity of mobile devices in the consumer market is a force for change in the manufacturing industry. As organizations see the benefits of real-time data, the ability for customization and the return on investment that mobile technology can offer, its B2B potential is now being realized.

According to a 2012 article in Computer World, IT operational spending was up around 4 percent in manufacturing companies (compared with 2.2 percent across all industries) — and mobile devices and applications are a big piece of that investment pie. In fact, 80 percent of manufacturing companies developed mobile apps in 2013, reports IDC. They expect companies to “increase their adoption of corporate app stores in the next 12–18 months as they accelerate the delivery and quantity of mobile applications they provide to their employees and look for a means of more effectively and securely managing related processes.”

But why? And how? A new white paper (PDF) “Mobility in Manufacturing: Technology and Innovation Lead the Way,” authored by Roshan Janardanan, provides valuable insight on the ways mobile technology can benefit manufacturing organizations of all sizes. The paper shows how mobile devices can play a key role in every part of the industry: field sales, supply chain and logistics and the manufacturing floor. Furthermore, the paper explains the benefits, challenges, and the need for organizations to:

  • Allow access enterprise portals from smartphones and tablets
  • Incorporate Windows 8 applications on iOS, Android or Blackberry platforms
  • Enable backend-based mobile solutions for SAP and Oracle
  • Use applications that address logistic challenges or quality issues
  • Connect social media, analytics and cloud technology

But these changes won’t happen without addressing some valid concerns. Not only must IT departments consider the costs associated with new technology and applications, they must also look at security concerns, any lack of strategic insight, and complexities created by multiple devices and platforms. And, of course, they must develop a Bring Your Own Device policy. (That piece is crucial; only 17 percent of manufacturing enterprises have a formal BYOD strategy with clear goals and objectives.)

While daunting, these challenges can be met with a solid roadmap for mobility adoption, as well as a clear risk assessment. The white paper demonstrates how an effective mobile strategy must include partnering with the right vendor. Together, you can identify enterprise readiness via assessments for mobility adoption, and create guidelines to ensure readiness for standardization and a successful mobile strategy.

The time is now. A recent Gartner study says CIOs working at manufacturing companies now rank the investment in mobile technologies as a top priority. Because mobile technology and applications can be customized for specific roles within manufacturing processes, it can benefit workers at all levels of the company. When enterprises assess how and where mobile solutions will benefit their business the most, an effective strategy follows suit. And that’s what mobilization is all about.

Want to learn more? Download the white paper (PDF) here. Or, explore Dell manufacturing services and mobility solutions.

About the Author: Power More