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Chuck Rathmann is Senior Marketing Communications Analyst, North America, at IFS.

Business conditions are changing rapidly thanks to digital transformation, which is defined in an MIT Sloan Management Review article as the use of technology to radically change performance or reach of enterprises.

Consumer businesses like Uber and Lyft come to mind, as they harness mobile technologies to manage virtual workforces and service offerings that disrupt traditional taxi companies. Industrial organizations may sensor their production equipment and automate machines or entire work cells—or reduce downtime by adopting condition-based maintenance. And indeed, this industrial internet of things (IIoT) is about to reach new heights as sensor prices have dropped, connectivity has increased and tools streamline the operationalization of IoT data.

But according to a new study of 200 industrial executives conducted by IFS, mobility represents just as large an opportunity for industrial organizations as it does for Uber. The study suggests that companies where employees access enterprise systems like enterprise resource planning, enterprise asset management or field service management software through mobile devices were more prepared for digital transformation than other companies.

Respondents who said their enterprise software prepared them well for digital transformation were more than twice as likely to access their software from a mobile device than those who said their software did a poor job of preparing them for digital transformation. There is a relationship between enterprise mobility and readiness for digital transformation.

Moreover, for almost 70 percent of respondents, increasing mobile access to enterprise software may be an immediate digital transformation opportunity. Only 31 percent of respondents said they access enterprise software through a mobile device.

And the transformative potential of enterprise mobility for industrial companies is real. Mobile access to software including enterprise resource planning (ERP), enterprise asset management (EAM) and field service management:

  • Enables accurate and real-time collection of enterprise information for more efficient operation and executive decision support.

  • Improves the customer experience in field service environments.

  • Increases productive time of technical staff by allowing them to interact with systems like enterprise asset management or computerized maintenance management systems while in the field or at the machine on the plant floor.

  • Enables workers and enterprise systems to harness advanced features of mobile devices including geolocation and cameras.

  • Improves the amount and quality of information available to those servicing assets or customers, allowing more efficient service and first-time-fix in field service environments and more reliable troubleshooting and less down time in a plant environment.

  • Induces users to engage with software systems more frequently, increasing return on investment in enterprise software.

This last benefit, increased engagement with enterprise systems, may be the most significant transformative element of enterprise mobility, according to Rick Veague, IFS’s chief technical officer in North America.

“Mobile is the most obvious manifestation of digital transformation,” Veague said. “It is not the only one or, for that matter, the most important one. But when people use enterprise software from a mobile device, it indicates that the system is the lifeblood of the business. Your employees can connect into those core processes and participate even if they are not sitting at their desk. If you cannot do this, you will struggle with anything in digital transformation.”

The authors of that article on the MIT Sloan Management Review site their own study of 157 executives at 50 companies. They wound up identifying nine elements of digital transformation. And several of them, including worker enablement and process digitization, seem to suggest other knowledgeable parties share Veague’s viewpoint on the importance of connected people for digital transformation.

Opinions expressed in the article above do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Data Center Knowledge and Informa.

Industry Perspectives is a content channel at Data Center Knowledge highlighting thought leadership in the data center arena. See our guidelines and submission process for information on participating. View previously published Industry Perspectives in our Knowledge Library.

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