What Impact will Mobility have on Your Business?

Enterprise mobility can have a profound impact on your business. It has the ability to optimize your business processes across the organization, and even create new business models that could potentially be viable competitors for you.

I see enterprise mobility as one of those technology trends, on the lines of Internet, e-commerce, and SaaS. It is powerful enough to make or break your business in the near future, but manages to fly under the radar and avoid detection until its too late.

The Effect of Enterprise Mobility on Your Business

Mobility has the potential to impact your core business operations across the enterprise.

For example:

Sales: Giving real-time access for your sales personnel to configure complex machinery configurations in real-time, determine inventory levels & pricing configurations, access to all the customer or prospect information at the right time to shorten sales cycles and increase win rates.

Operations: Capturing real-time, accurate information from remote locations, providing better field-service operations. This leads to better customer service and employees able to make informed and accurate decisions, moving into a real-time enterprise

Financial: Improving cash flow and accurate forecasting by enabling remote personnel to capture and provide real-time information. Real-time approvals to speed up business processes across the organization and eventually have an impact on the bottom line.

Customer Experience: Improving the rate of satisfied customers by reaching customers at the point of sale. Able to personalize a customer’s buying experience every-time they interact with anyone in your organization.

The list goes on and on, however it varies on where and how mobility can impact your business by industry segment. However, the most important aspect that stands out that should worry business stakeholders is not what happens if a few processes are mobilized. The most important question is, “what happens if a business process is completely re-imagined and re-envisioned around mobility?” To take a step further, what happens when hundreds of business processes in your organization are re-imagined around mobility?

What happens if your competitors do it before you?

Or worse, what if a startup or early-stage company is able to re-imagine a whole business model around mobility, because they do not have any legacy of existing processes and habits?

What happens to existing players in your industry? More importantly, what happens to your business?

The Impact of Mobility

To draw a comparison and illustrate an example, compare the growth of Amazon and Netflix against existing industry players, Borders and Blockbuster. Both Amazon and Netflix can broadly be classified as e-commerce; the same technology trend but different business models.

Borders was known for its innovative store management software. It gave them a competitive edge in inventory management and accurately projected sales. But they failed to recognize the impact of e-commerce to its business until it was too late.

Amazon managed to use technology and build a whole new business model around it. From online shopping, to expedited and unlimited flat rate shipping. They provided an enhanced buyer experience like recommendations, peek-inside-the-book, 1-click shopping and more, all at a lower cost. And the buyer never has to move from his or her couch.

Borders was growing at a breakneck speed in late 90’s when Amazon was still relatively small. However, they failed to recognize the impact e-commerce could have on their business until it was too late.

Growth Rate

Similarly Blockbuster had pretty much captured the market in video rentals with its state-of-the-art rental operations. At one point, it made as much as 16% of its total revenue from late fees.

Netflix reimagined a brand new business model around e-commerce, starting with expedited movie shipping, moving on to online movies coupled with unlimited movies for a flat fee and no late fees.

Here again Blockbuster was at its peak in early 2000’s and failed to recognize the power of e-commerce until it was too late.

Growth Rate

The Common Theme:

The commonality between both cases was, there was one technology trend, namely e-commerce.
 It was applied very differently by two different companies (Amazon and Netflix). 
 It took 4-to-5 years to take shape and become a threat.
 None of the existing market leaders took it seriously. 
 It drove existing industry leaders (Borders and Blockbuster) to bankruptcy.

Trends That Change Industries

Another important technology trend that has the potential to change industries is (literally) flying under the radar. It’s drones.

Amazon has publicly announced Prime Air, which is essentially drone delivery. A lot of businesses in logistics could be impacted by this trend.

Recently the Indian police used drones to monitor sensitive areas during riots. An application like this could impact several businesses. Here again, drones are one of those technology trends that have the potential to fundamentally change industries. We may not know how, at this point, but failing to react is not a logical option.

The Impact of the Mobility Trend

Similarly, I believe, mobility is one of those trends that will have a profound impact to many industries, especially as the adoption of Internet & “always-on” connectivity spreads to third-world countries and remote areas.

To gauge the level of impact, one needs to start thinking outside the box, digging deeper into the possibilities within your specific industry. In terms of timing, iPhone was launched in 2007 and iPad in 2010. Many enterprise mobility vendors started in that timeframe. The technology, as well as industry, has matured to the point it can make an impact to a lot of businesses across various industries.

As Andy Grove (Intel Ex-CEO) once said, “Only the Paranoid Survive.” As a business stakeholder, you may not know all the impacts mobility could have on your business. But at the core, do you think mobility could impact your business?

Could you take advantage of it before your competitors or will others take advantage of it before you? Are you paranoid that mobility could reboot your business, but not sure how?

We would love to hear which camp are you in?