Keeping up with the pace of change

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As readers of this journal will be only too aware, the pace of technological change within the manufacturing, logistics and retail solutions space is rapid and unrelenting. 

This is naturally a good thing from the perspective of providing end users with more efficient solutions that are able to enhance their business in terms of growth potential, closer relationships with their customers and suppliers, better employee productivity, greater levels of data accuracy and a host of other advantages. 

However, the speed of development can prove just a little overwhelming for some organisations that, while having in place an enthusiastic deployment regime, may nevertheless find it to be far from a walk in the park when looking to keep up with all the functionality enhancements that are becoming available and becoming full briefed on what these developments can bring to the business and/or operational party.

VDC Research has recently asked the question: “Speed and agility in application development are key to staying ahead, but can enterprises keep up?” In the case of mobile applications, a recent report by the analyst organisation states that businesses continue to be drawn to these types of solutions as they look for inventive ways to minimise costs while also improving communication and collaboration across their organisations, VDC adds that the appetite for these solutions is fuelling high growth for mobile application development platforms and tool vendors, due to the expansion of mobile applications across business units. However, the report goes on to highlight that the effort for IT organisations to move as quickly as the mobile world is an ongoing struggle.

VDC’s study explains that while enabling a workforce for mobility can produce immediate productivity gains, streamlining workflows using mobile applications remains a complex task given the lack of in-house mobile development talent present even in larger, more progressive enterprises. Another challenge, according to the report, is determining the appropriate solutions to implement due to the wide variety and vast number of options available. 

Eric Klein, director of enterprise mobility and connected devices, VDC, makes the point that many complexities persist long after the initial development and launch of an application and, if not mitigated, risk substantially reducing ROI.  In VDC’s view, developers will have to work with several vendors as building out and maintaining an enterprise mobility strategy requires that all bases are covered: planning, user experience, development, deployment, provisioning, and management of apps.

VDC adds that increasing adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT) is playing a growing role in mobile development because end users want and need access to business-critical applications to work at any time or any location, on any device, with data accessible from the company network, the Web or the Cloud. 

The study explains that younger generations of customers see mobile as their channel of choice for any type of service including shopping and payments. These trends have businesses consuming increasing volumes of data from mobile devices, social media platforms and RFID tags, as well as other sensor-related data from IoT connected devices. 

With this in mind, Klein maintains that organisations must continue to invest in updating and modernising their mobile, social, CRM, payment, inventory and fulfilment systems. “Possessing the right tools to streamline application development will be critical to future success,” he concludes.

It certainly makes sense to be in the vanguard of technological change in order to stay ahead of, or at least to keep in line with, your competition. However, this shouldn’t be a one-way street on the part of the user. As Klein argues, vendors that can holistically deliver these capabilities and those who are willing to work with their customers will emerge as winners. 

Ed Holden

Manufacturing & Logistics IT Editor, Ed Holden, has over 20 years’ experience at the helm of leading business-to-business journals in the UK, including those within such top publishing stables as EMAP, Trinity Mirror (Mirror Group),B2B Publishing & Calvert Media.Over the last 15 years,Ed has focused on writing predominantly within retail,manufacturing,material handling,engineering & supply chain arena.

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