For nearly 10 years the mobility industry has tirelessly focused on convincing us about the undeniable value of Enterprise Mobility and the never ending search for the enterprise “killer app”. It’s been a tough sell, but an answer is emerging. Below are five reasons why I believe corporate safety programs will be the catalyst for adopting enterprise mobility widely throughout organizations with substantial benefits for corporations and employees.
#1 – “What kind of App?”
The obvious question (and not so obvious answer) that comes soon after the formation of the enthusiastic mobile development team keen on writing an app is … “for what purpose?”. Unlike the consumer space where there is millions of ways of making our lives easier with smartphones and tablets ranging from music and art, to exercise and monitoring, mobile technology in the enterprise is not so clear. Safety programs provide that clarity and a real, tangible and valuable place to start.
Smartphone equipped employees now present an intrinsic value to the safety of themselves and their co-workers through a variety of factors. Inspections, audits, corrective actions, hazard identifications — these are all well-articulated processes that can be redefined by an employee who can identify, articulate, notify and update the business on all these matters from his or her mobile device.
#2 – Safety is getting investment.
Safety is not optional. Every company needs to protect their workforce and the consequences are not only very real for the worker whomight get hurt, but alsothe managers in the company who are responsible for the checks and balances enforced to maintain safety. Since 2004, it’s been clear in Canada with Bill C-45 who can be held accountable for safety, and with it the steps organizations must take to ensure employees are up to date on certifications and training before any work takes place. When safety regulations are at an all time high for organizations, safety improvements through mobility are paramount.
New mobile technology requires investment and safety is getting the corporate attention from the Board room table to the field. After-all — money does make the world go round and without it — your mobile initiative won’t go anywhere.
#3 – Mobile Features are more than toys.
As we watched the skyrocketing adoption rates of mobile technology in the consumer space it was often driven by what I call “feature bravado”. Each vendor played a game of constant innovation and one-up-man-ship whether it was the camera, screen size, or some other esoteric feature such as a curved screens and water proof casings. These features were driven by our human need to have the best – and often were toys we played with rather than driving real tangible value.
In safety, these features matter. Having a good camera is instrumental in doing an inspection and having a GPS location attached to the image provides valuable data to ensure accuracy and compliance. Features are not just nice to have, they provide critical insights to make your safety business processes better.
#4 — Enabling the dreaded ERP system.
For much of the last 20 years CIOs and CFOs around the world have been consumed with their ERP systems implementations. I am often dumbfounded by the amount capital companies will invest to put these systems in place, but clearly having good accounting and financial practices in place are critical to any healthy enterprise. Therefore, it’s worth every penny.
Safety has a critical link to these information sources, whether it is employee data, facilities, assets or inventory. This means that safety processes will be both consumers and suppliers of ERP data. While this is music to many ERP vendors, it should also be music to the ears of the people who paid for those ERPs as it provides another way to drive value from those enormous and time consuming implementations.
#5 — Ruggedized devices are finally viable.
While I may get some nasty emails about this comment from people who have been using ruggedized devices for many years, my reasoning for saying this is two-fold; a) price and b) weight (and there may be a third, namely battery). After many years of innovation and miniaturization driven mostly by our needs in the consumer space — you can finally get a reasonably priced ruggedized devices south of $2000 (with some costing only a few hundred dollars). For the last decade, this price point was stubbornly inflated as markets evolved and the tipping point has finally been reached. This along with battery power that keeps people working for the required 8-12 hour shift even in bright sunlight conditions now provides a hardware platform that meets the needs of the field worker.
It’s taken 10 years -but enterprise adoption of mobile devices is finally a credible and meaningful implementation. From smart forms that determine location to field technology for tracking employees and identifying hazards, mobility affords today’s enterprise with, greater accountability, streamlined efficiencies, reduced redundancy, and ultimately saferprocesses for your employees.