Transportation and logistics companies and mobile technology: Lessons for other industries

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In the run-up to the holiday season, it’s the transportation and logistics industry that makes wishes come true for young and old alike. Though these holiday heroes make it look easy, transportation and logistics companies rely heavily on mobile technology to help them deliver, suggests FleetOwner.

Companies in other industries should take cues from the transportation industry on how it uses mobile technology to get the job done.

The transportation and logistics industry has important enterprise mobility insights because it’s an industry that’s mastered knowing the location of its people and assets using location-based services and the IoT.

Here are five mobile solutions powering the transportation and logistics industry and lessons other enterprises can learn from their applications:

1. Geofencing

As highlighted by DreamOrbit, the transportation and logistics industry uses geofencing to create virtual boundaries around assigned areas using GPS-enabled devices. For example, transportation and logistics companies use geofencing technology to track when trucks enter and leave a depot yard or overnight parking area.

Geofencing technologies aren’t just for tracking vehicles, either. A healthcare institution can use the same technology on devices within its network to limit access to patient information. It can also integrate geofencing technology with enterprise mobility management(EMM) solutions. Doctors or other healthcare professionals can bring up the patient data they need on their mobile devices when they’re working their shifts. As soon as their shifts end, their mobile devices won’t be able to log on to any hospital resources holding patient information. This technology can be critical for hospitals with mobile workers to remain compliant with the 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

2. Location-based services

Whether trucks are in freight yards or delivering toys for Black Friday, it makes good business sense to know their locations. Companies use mobile devices and onboard GPS to support location-based services across their fleets. Location-based services can feed into back-office systems including management dashboards and analytics platforms for reporting purposes. Management can use that data to make informed decisions about its next business moves.

Companies in the retail, healthcare and field services industries use these technologies when it’s necessary to track employees and customers for security and other purposes. For example, consider when a cable company equips its vehicles with location-based services so it can track them and dispatch the closest technician to service a customer.

3. Mobile-based planning apps

Firms use cloud-based applications (sometimes called transportation management systems) to manage and track shipments from the warehouse through transport to shipping. Drivers can access these systems using mobile apps. Some vendors also offer secure chat and collaboration features as part of these applications, giving them channels to communicate back to dispatchers and corporate offices if something changes on their routes.

Mobile planning apps have many applications across other industries. Though field service companies such as construction firms are a natural fit, these apps point to a future in which mobile devices will run more business operations. Furthermore, the implications for secure collaboration and communications are transferable to healthcare, financial services and manufacturing, where mobile workers need close communications across one or more facilities during daily operations.

4. The IoT

The barrier to entry for the IoT is going down for the supply chain, according to Logistics Management. This is leading to some exciting applications for the transportation and logistics industry. Consider a transportation company that tags its loads with IoT beacons. Each beacon communicates with its main dispatch center or even directly to customers, enabling them to track goods through their entire shipping cycles. Transportation management systems, enterprise resource planning platforms and even customer relationship management applications can then read these IoT beacons.

The transportation and logistics industry sets an example for its implementation of the IoT to track vehicles and packages while going through the supply chain. Similar parallels for the IoT exist in pharmaceuticals and healthcare, where IoT sensors can monitor patients both in hospitals and at home. In the end, it’s about the IoT sensor triggering a notification prompting a person to take action. Other enterprises will also use IoT devices to monitor machinery and other assets.

5. Enterprise mobility management

The transportation and logistics industry represents a mobile workforce like no other industry because of its delivery challenges, deadlines and the distances its workforce covers. All this makes the industry a natural consumer of EMM solutions. Mobile devices need to receive security, app and mobile OS updates, whether they’re on the road, at a corporate facility or at a rest stop later that night. Using today’s EMM solutions lets transportation companies secure IoT devices and integrate geofencing solutions into their overall mobile security solutions.

Look at the landing page for many EMM solutions right now and chances are you’ll see a vendor trying to suit its platform to cross-industry business requirements. That’s a testimony to a mobility vendor that’s learning from the transportation industry to create the best solutions for its customers.

Part of becoming a better mobile enterprise is studying how other industries go mobile. The transportation and logistics industry is a perfect case study in mobility because it represents businesses with critical timelines that require flexible and secure mobile technologies to ensure user productivity.

This post originally appeared on Mobile Business Insights on November 2, 2017. The site is no longer in publication.

My name is Will Kelly. I’m a technical writer and content strategist based in the Washington, DC area. I’ve written for corporations and technology publications about such topics as cloud computing, DevOps, and enterprise mobility. Follow me on Twitter: @willkelly

Digital technology drives customer insights for brick-and-mortar retailers

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Embracing the digital consumer through technology is a must for retailers in today’s economy. A savvy retailer with a mobile app and voice technology can leverage customer insights to drive new sales and improve loyalty programs to enhance customer engagement.

Shoppers often reach for their mobile phone first, whether it’s to research a product or to make a purchase outright. In fact, App Annie said that in Q1 of 2018, consumer spending on apps jumped 22 percent from a year earlier, reaching $18.4 billion worldwide. This was driven by growth in music and audio, health and fitness and game categories.

Embracing the digital consumer is clearly critical for retailers. Here are some ways to improve the relationship between retail operations and customers:

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How to overcome mobility challenges in your digital transformation

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The road to becoming a mobile-first organization isn’t without its business, security and technology challenges. Companies that win at enterprise mobility overcome these challenges through the proper application of technology, policies and processes.

The following are some mobility challenges you may face and how to approach them:

Personal and corporate data on employee devices

Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies continue to be a challenge, even for organizations that have been at it for a few years.

Getting past BYOD pain points requires a cross-functional team with active participants from the business and IT sides of the house. If you currently offer or want to offer a BYOD stipend, implementing a split-billing solution helps ensure your organization stays on budget and your users get the stipends they deserve, according to VDC Research. Split-billing solutions data can also be set to flow into your mobile security solution to provide data points for common user activities.

The intermingling of personal and corporate data makes data governance a major BYOD pain point. You’ll need to enforce your company’s data ownership policies through user education and mobile content management policies set in your enterprise mobility management (EMM) solution.

Cybersecurity stakes rise

Getting past the cybersecurity pain point requires an arsenal of approaches. You’ll need multi-level security thinking with mobility-focused user security training, security policies and a holistic approach to EMM by integrating threat intelligence, identity access management (IAM), analytics and even endpoint security into the platform to create a holistic mobile security solution for your organization.

Next, step up your anti-malware strategy to keep your corporate devices free from unauthorized software and include the strategy as part of your user security training.

ROI to show business value

Though you should focus on the technology and security challenges of going mobile, you can’t lose sight of your return on investment (ROI) for the move.

Ensuring your mobile initiative boosts ROI requires mapping more of your mobility goals to new revenue or service delivery opportunities. Think more about field sales enablement and helping field employees better serve your customers. Though improving employee satisfaction and productivity is a traditional goal of a mobility initiative, maturing it means aligning with the bottom line of the business.

Work with stakeholders and your financial team to determine how your organization can capture the ROI of going mobile , then give managers the tools and processes to chart it for reporting purposes. According to Business 2 Community, capturing mobile app ROI includes the following steps:

  • Calculating improved user productivity (for example, improving response to customers)
  • Capturing what role, if any, the mobile apps play in the acquisition of customers (such as sales enablement and CRM tools)
  • Analyzing app usage against improving internal collaboration and communications

It comes down to capturing how going mobile improves the bottom line of your company.

Virtual assistants become a security concern

Virtual assistant apps coming to employee phones bring new security concerns. It’s time for your security team to analyze the potential vulnerabilities if virtual assistants are on BYOD devices or part of your mobility roadmap. Your security team should set the appropriate policies and rules to protect your data from potential breaches that could come from these technologies.

Mobile workforce and compliance

If Sarbanes-Oxley, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) or another compliance program governs your business, expect new mobility challenges. It’s not impossible to have a compliant mobile workforce. You’ll need to work with your auditor and third-party security experts to ensure your EMM and endpoint security meet compliance standards.

Limited developer resources

Another challenge that should not be dismissed is mobile app development. For many, all the skilled and experienced developers are all working on billable projects. Overhead projects such as corporate mobile apps fall into the bottom of their priority lists. Though your enterprise app store will certainly provide approved mobile apps, use cases abound where organizations might have to develop custom apps in-house that will be made available through an enterprise app store. However, tight development resources make that a challenge.

Meeting the mobile app development challenge requires taking a simple approach to app development. Look into the benefits of mobile back-end-as-a-service and low-code tools so you can open mobile app development to more junior developers, knowledge workers or power users to extend your list of available developers for mobile app projects.

Though your organization will encounter some challenges, these hurdles will be manageable and your mobile transformation will certainly be worthwhile.

This post originally appeared on Mobile Business Insights on September 28, 2017. The site is no longer in publication.

My name is Will Kelly. I’m a technical writer and content strategist based in the Washington, DC area. I’ve written for corporations and technology publications about such topics as cloud computing, DevOps, and enterprise mobility. Follow me on Twitter: @willkelly