Putting the power of mobility in the hands of employees
Putting the power of mobility in the hands of employees
Technology is a strategic necessity for supply chain organizations and plays an essential role in increasing revenue and margin. More than 60% of respondents to a Gartner Study Earlier this year it sourced a competitive advantage. The need for more flexibility, as well as labor constraints, are among the drivers for more investments in technology, according to the same Gartner report.
Mobile technology can be an answer to both of these challenges, and it is already transforming the supply chain from the manufacturing floor to the warehouse and everything in between. The overarching question for business leaders looking to adopt or embrace mobile solutions across the enterprise is not just what to deploy but how to deploy.
A connected supply chain relies on putting real-time information into the hands of employees on the front lines who can use it to take action. Mobile computing enables just that, but without proper controls, mobile devices can present unwanted risks. This leads to one of two scenarios:
- Putting off mobile adoption altogether because business leaders aren’t sure how to go about bringing it into the enterprise
- Give it a shot but it falls short of the true potential of mobile computing, either due to lack of control over the environment or excessive control over the environment and not realizing the potential of the technology.
The way to ensure employees have the right information and functionality on their devices at the right time is through virtual and dynamic device management. This is where the context comes in.
Calculating the flexible nature of workers
Enterprise navigation tools make it easy to work in an equally wide range of settings, whether behind the wheel, in the warehouse or on the factory floor. But standing in the way of those tools reaching their full potential are outdated means of managing them and do not take into account the changing nature of workers.
Context can help.
When a mobile device management solution has a contextual layer added to it, device permissions can be set dynamically as the context of each individual employee changes throughout the transition. Managing navigation by context enables what happens around the device to influence what can happen on the device, so that an employee moves from the warehouse floor to the lunch break room, for example, their device permissions (along with the features and content available on it) also adjust. When they move to a setting deemed secure by the employer’s mobile policy, the phone returns to full functionality with all features, apps, and content immediately available. No manual technical intervention is required to set permissions. This happens automatically and in real time.
In this way, employers can ensure that devices are used within company guidelines, and most importantly, they can proactively eliminate hazards and distractions, helping to keep employees safe.
Restrictive one-size-fits-all approaches to mobility management may give executives peace of mind, but they also reduce performance potential and lead to less use of mobile tools. At a time when the need for connectivity and visibility across the supply chain is at an all-time high, giving up some control to gain more leadership could pave the way for improved performance.
Context can help resolve what I refer to as the human aspect of navigation by identifying situational triggers and adapting what can be done on the device at a given time. Employees are not static during the shift – they move around, their settings change, and as they do, their mobile device permissions must also be modified. By adding contextual intelligence to mobile technology management, companies can deliver a more relevant user experience and improve worker safety and productivity, ensuring employees get the functionality they need for the task at hand and do nothing.
Here’s what that might look like: An employee can check items and access inventory management apps on their machine when the forklift is safely parked, but the machine knows it removes that functionality temporarily when the forklift is maneuvering down aisles. On the factory floor, team members can use asset management and equipment maintenance applications in designated areas, but in places considered high risk, these features are automatically removed from the equipment so as not to cause unwanted distractions. During transportation, the driver can use maps or receive voice calls via Bluetooth, but applications such as video calls or text messages are temporarily blocked. This change of permissions based on context reduces risk, and it does so in an unobtrusive manner that keeps each team member’s privacy respected. When the worker is out of the clock or outside the managed work area, so is the technology, and the device returns to full normal functionality.
Mobility makes operations move and teams engage. Improves connectivity, data capture, reporting, and more. Logistics leaders can take advantage of the role mobility can play in creating supply chain efficiencies by using context to help determine what is or isn’t appropriate in a given situation, as defined in an organization’s mobility policy.
Just as a sentence gives context to our choice of words, or what happens around us gives context to our actions, what happens around an employee’s mobile device should provide context for determining what he can do with it in a given situation. This approach allows mobility to shine in its role as a driver of safety and efficiency across the supply chain.
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