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In an increasingly mobile world and an age of instant gratification, the enterprise user is demanding the same access to information as the consumer. This is not surprising as in many cases, they are one and the same. At my company, Unvired, we have been implementing mobile solutions for several years now, and I would like to share our insights so that others can benefit. Here goes:
1. The Overwhelmed Enterprise: Unlike consumer mobility, enterprise mobility is yet to really take off. Customers are still defining their mobile strategy. In an age of tight budgets, Mobility projects have to pass the ROI test. Customers are faced with many challenges: worry about mobile security, mobile device management, choice of mobile application development platforms, testing, and support. Software vendors are consolidating, and many seemingly separate components of Enterprise Mobility Management are converging–like device management and applicationdevelopment platforms.
2. Cloud or Not to Cloud: We have found several customers still worried about data security in the cloud. When presented with both an on-premise and a cloud deployment option to build mobile applications, some customers prefer on-premise, even though it is more costly to implement.
3. HTML5 vs. Native: There is a perception that HTML5 will enable “Build Once Run Everywhere” saving development effort and costs for multiple platforms like iOS, Android, Blackberry, and Windows. From our experience, we believe that there is a place for both HTML5 and native apps. For sophisticated complex apps where performance is a premium, native apps may still be the best option.
In my next blog, I will discuss some Business Use Cases for Mobile Applications covering the Consumer Products, Utilities, and Oil & Gas industries.
Direct Store Delivery
Direct Store Delivery (DSD) is method of selling or distributing products for variety of industries like Food, Beverage, Personal Care, etc. SAP offers a full-fledged module on DSD part of SAP ECC/ERP. DSD has tight integration to SAP SD, MM, FI & Logistics. This makes it one of the preferred solutions across the world which meets most of the requirements of customers’ out-of-the-box. SAP also offers a mobility offering as an optional module for customers who like to avoid the manual paper based approach. There are a few considerations when implementing Mobile DSD in an enterprise.
1. Is the current business process good enough to implement SAP DSD
SAP DSD has some key considerations to get the best results in implementations. These are things like usage of Bill of Material (BOM), Empties management, Single Sales Area for each route. Without these you may be required to limit yourself to some features SAP DSD provides out-of-the-box or have to do custom development to achieve those.
2. Mobile DSD or Paper based DSD
Over the last 6-8 years, there is a lot of demand for mobilizing the DSD process in enterprises. Mobilization completely takes away the manual effort of entering vital order/delivery, cash collection, stock & money checkout, check-in. Customers can be issued with real-time legal invoices with electronic signature capture, PODs, cash receipts etc. at the customer site itself. Mobilization leads to on-the-fly determination of promotions, seasonal discounts which are powerful features of an ERP like SAP ECC. In a summary – faster sales & logistics execution and eliminate pilferage completely.
3. Which scenarios are meant to be driven via Mobile DSD
SAP DSD supports Delivery Driver, Van Sales, Pre-Sales & Mixed scenarios. In an ideal situation keeping a single Mobile DSD solution for all these scenarios give the best benefits and hence ROI. Many times there is an overlap in-term of functions the workforce can perform. Integrating customer, product surveys and checklists has huge advantages to captures vital information at field via same sales workforce. Integration of some field service functions is also a key.
4. A right technology platform to Mobilize DSD
While mobilization is a key in reaping the benefits of a DSD, it’s very important to choose the right platform to enable mobilization. The key parameters are: scalability, multiple device type with native support, offline capability, high volume data handling in the mobile devices, roles/group management, a platform for instant alerting and notifications, geo capabilities, central device administration & remote trouble shooting, seamless online-offline capability of device software.
5. A right device to mobilize DSD
This is a very important decision in an implementation. Typically the thumb-rule is to leverage existing device hardware to run MDSD on it because there is a big cost factor associated to the hardware. Especially in a MDSD world a ruggedized form of device is considered, which mush more expensive than a non-ruggedized device is. In an enterprise where devices have to be acquired, you will end up with a few choices today. For a delivery driver usage scenario, a ruggedized device needs to be considered. Here the choice is either an enterprise ready Windows Mobile based device or an Android device. Even though Windows Mobile is considered to be outdated, it still has an edge over android in-terms of enterprise readiness and easy available peripheral integrations like barcode scanning and printing. Android on the other hand could be giving the better results in terms of application software usability experience. Even custom ruggedized android tablet hardware is an interesting option. For non-delivery driver scenarios, there is plethora of choices today; from iPhone to Windows Phone and tablets. Here the cost of the device would be a primary criteria and a Blackberry device could a good choice as many enterprises have plenty of blackberries rolled out to these workforces and hence it’s all about reusing the existing hardware.
Note: This blog also appeared as a guest blog on Enterprise Mobile Strategies.
In a world of fast changing tastes and instant gratification, my can of favorite beverage had better be on the shelf. If not, the retailer and supplier will have lost a loyal customer. Direct Store Delivery (DSD) is a vital process that brings foods and beverages to the shelf. Mobilizing the DSD process makes the supply chain much more efficient, and ensures that the shopping experience is a pleasant one. In the world of enterprise mobility, mobile DSD is not a luxury—it is a must have.
While SAP and other companies have solutions for DSD, the Mobile DSD (MDSD) area remains ripe for innovation. During our implementations of DSD and MDSD Solutions, customers have shared with us valuable feedback. The usability of MDSD solutions can be improved to enhance sales and productivity of the delivery drivers. The User Interface can be simplified for data entry and screen navigation. In many cases, there is a need to re-engineer the process flow to meet our clients’ needs.
One area to improve is in Sales Order creation. Immediate Sales Order replication to SAP can trigger the follow up leading to faster order fulfillment. Another area to improve is Customer Surveys. During the store visit, the supplier personnel collect customer data via surveys. This survey data can be integrated with CRM systems like SAP CRM, which can be fed into BW and analytics can be utilized to make better decisions.
Another insight from our customers is that it would be good to integrate the MDSD application with Asset Maintenance/Plant Maintenance systems to create and access Notifications. Many times, the drivers are doing multiple things —taking orders, merchandising as well as conducting maintenance and repairs on a variety of assets the supplier has deployed at the retailers – think refrigerators as an example.
Some customers have unique requirements for mobilizing DSD, and only a custom MDSD solution will work. In these cases, we utilize our domain expertise and deliver a custom MDSD solution. We also give our customers the option of either an on-premise or in the cloud solution.
Mobile DSD in conjunction with DSD has benefits for both the CP (consumer products) manufacturer and the retailer. The supplier can better monitor demand on the shelf, be more responsive, and better control merchandising and promotions. New products can be introduced better and innovations increase. The retailer in turn benefits from lower capital outlays and always having fast moving items in stock.
So the next time you grab that beverage, thank the process that enables you to quench your thirst – Mobile DSD.
Note: This blog also appeared as a guest blog on Enterprise Mobile Strategies.