An Overview of Trends to Coalesce Mobile Application Development Strategies
Isu Sahai is currently working at Manduka as the VP of Information Technology, overseeing all technology initiatives across business applications, analytics, e-commerce platform, digital initiatives, networking, cybersecurity, hardware management and IT helpdesk. He has been in this space for 2 decades, centered primarily on business applications & analytics, getting into the space of cybersecurity, ecommerce and observing how that interplay of technology footprint works in tandem with business value.
Mobile Application – An overview
There are two different types of mobile applications, one on your phone devices and the other used in handheld devices for the warehouse or product development and manufacturing.
We have had our internal warehouse operations targeted at users of the mobile apps for warehouse activities. This technology has been around for a while, but it needs to be able to support the business process as well, while providing real-time analytics associated with it. Typically, in warehouse operations, we had basic OOB reporting from the ERP, but getting analytical insights was difficult and resources consuming. Our focus therefore has been towards supporting the business process and providing selective insights on using mobile apps to better manage our resources, cost, productivity, and balancing warehouse demands. We also, re-sequence floor tasks or locator layout, aligning them to floor operations within the warehouse and provide a more time effective environment.
Emerging trends in Mobile apps
Many companies today are exploring this niche space to provide business support backed by a team of competent IT personnel along with a superior analytical platform. We have been evaluating a few products in that direction, and the interesting part has been that it’s more like a Warehouse as a Service (WaaS) kind of a model. They provide you their device with their proprietary software. Through this, they capture not just the transactions by integrating to the ERP; they also capture the exact time it takes for people as they walk around the facilities. And based on that, they have their data science algorithms, which optimize and give us prescriptive recommendations. For instance, if you change the layout of your warehouse, then certain activities can be done a lot faster, or certain people are doing things more quickly than other people. Hence, you try to figure out your “smart people” who are more intelligent in doing certain activities and how the team can collectively learn from them. Also, what they do differently as compared to people who are a lot slower in their productivity and come up with comprehensive plans around improving the collective team performance. So we do see a lot of potential in that regards as we have been evaluating these tools
. Stay abreast with technology but in parallel finely balance cutting edge technology adoption with security
A strategy that is Steering your Business Growth
Our focus has been multi-pronged. There is an adoption of secure, compliant cloud centric IT model which we require to support with hybrid resource model. So our focus is on building lean IT such that we can get maximum output from the limited resources. We certainly do not intend to groom in house expertise in every technology domain, instead leverage partners who are experts in their respective spaces. And with that in mind, we have made a conscious effort of defining a technology ecosystem in which we are partnering with these vendors who have specific capabilities and which can plug seamlessly into our core team. It also provides us the value and insights that we are looking for in the space of business apps, e-commerce, warehousing apps or insights. Lastly, we focus primarily on establishing a strong and robust transactional system with clearly identified data sources. This year and going forward our focus is on graduating into a prescriptive and predictive analytics based organization – where analytics drives decision making. To this extent, we have tools that can provide insights for active decision making for the executives of other operational teams, and ones we are trying to support as we move into technology 2.0.
Till now the connectivity of technology has been centered around Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. But as we get into the adoption of 5G, with edge computing coming into play, there is going to be a major transformation in the mobile space, effecting our lives. There would be touch points where users would have access to real-time insights. Devices would readily perform analytics and prescribe what you should be doing rather than having to wait on a reactive analytical platform. We see the technology going forward in a direction, that is driving change in how we work and live, empowered by data insights. I also believe that another digital initiatives which would play an impactful role is wearable technologies. Identifying those respective use cases for wearable technology, embedding them in our product portfolio, driving new product and service monetization options, would be an interesting use case in the consumer space. Deriving value both from an organization standpoint as well as for consumer base in general is something which would drive a lot of data science operations going forward. So there is a lot of potential not just with our internal business operations but also with respect to the experience and value for the customers who are buying our products.
Piece of Advice
We cannot insulate ourselves from the technology transformation around us. Embracing technology is not a matter of IF but WHEN, and in this journey with so many drivers there is a fear in the IT executives of lagging behind. But in the quest of digital revamp one has to ensure that there is a good balance between what is secure and what is cutting edge. That’s where the role of technology executives come in; to make the right call and go with the crawl, walk, run approach. They must be able aware of technology options, pick the ones needed for Proof of concept (POC), fail fast, and above all ensure it fits the enterprise roadmap. So start defining your next technology experience. Stay abreast with technology but in parallel finely balance cutting edge technology adoption with security.