A recent survey, that Zebra Technologies conducted to gain insight into the future of field operations, reveals that 36% of organizations consider mobile technology investment as their topmost priority, while 58% consider such investments to be a growing priority to keep pace with changing consumer demands. The study also indicates that more and more organizations will invest in enterprise mobile devices and other disruptive technologies to increase customer satisfaction and front-line worker productivity. Areas of implementation will include field services, fleet management, workflows for direct store delivery and proof of delivery.
Businesses are adopting disruptive, transformative technologies to deal with challenges posed by the on-demand economy, as such technologies can help improve visibility and gain a performance edge.
According to Jim Hilton, Director of Vertical Marketing Strategy for Manufacturing, Transportation and Logistics at Zebra Technologies, factors such as the rate of growth the e-commerce industry is witnessing, increasing customer expectations, and focus within organizations to differentiate their services are changing the way the field service industry perceives mobile technology investments. He said that the study shows that businesses are adopting disruptive, transformative technologies to deal with challenges posed by the on-demand economy, as such technologies can help improve visibility and gain a performance edge.
The study sheds light on the fact that businesses must equip their front-line workers with mobile devices to stay competitive. As of now, only 20% of organizations leverage enterprise mobile devices to conduct field-based operations. But that figure is going to hit 50% in the next years.
By 2023, the use of handheld mobile devices, that have built-in barcode scanners, is predicted to grow considerably – computers – 45%, printers – 53% and rugged tablets – 54%.
Most of the respondents indicated that businesses are willing to invest in mobile devices, such as rugged tablets, printers, etc. By 2023, the use of handheld mobile devices, that have built-in barcode scanners, is predicted to grow considerably – computers – 45%, printers – 53% and rugged tablets – 54%. Businesses expect to see an increase in their revenues owing to the high shipment, inventory and asset accuracy these devices provide.
In field operations, replacing traditional consumer devices with ruggedized enterprise ones can help businesses increase efficiency and productivity while saving costs. Most businesses (nearly 80%) usually analyze the TCO (total cost of ownership) of business devices before making a capital expenditure. Just 32% of respondents consider that the TCO of consumer smartphones is better than that of rugged devices.
Other factors organizations consider while evaluating enterprise technology for front-line workers include: initial device (44%), replacement (47%), programming/IT (40%) and app development (44%). Around 40% of respondents believe that support and device management costs are also important considerations, along with repair costs (35%), device lifecycle cadence (36%), and customer service (37%). These are key factors that influence purchase cycles, indicating that technology providers that cannot control costs or provide value will be overtaken quickly by those who do.
The study shows that faster networks and other emerging technologies are changing the face of field operations. Most businesses believe that faster mobile networks will drive investments in field operations, enabling the use of disruptive technologies.
More than a third of the decision makers cited droids and drones as game-changers. The survey revealed that smart technologies like RFID, sensors and intelligent labels are already transforming the industry. Over a quarter of respondents still view truck loading automation (28%), Intelligent Labels and RFID (28%) and AR/VR (29%) as disruptive factors.
However, as businesses continue to add to their fleet of devices to enable front-line workers, the need for ensuring these devices are always business-ready will also rise. Deploying, tracking and securing large numbers of devices can be a daunting task, unless businesses have a reliable endpoint management solution in place. 42Gears UEM, a robust and scalable solution, can not only help businesses secure their business devices, but also ensure they are only being used to do what they are meant for.