Faltering economy: time to go mobile

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When times are challenging, the best move a business can make is to invest in the right technology, says MicroStrategy SA country manager Mark Bannerman.

Bannerman argues that investing in a solution like enterprise mobility can have the effect of not only driving down operational costs, but also increasing top-line revenue streams. This makes today the perfect time to make this investment.

Bannerman says companies are increasingly reticent to invest in technologies unless they see a short-term, compelling business case for its use. "In tight economic times such as these, mobile business intelligence becomes much more than a nice-to-have. It's a must-have. Mobility acts as a cost saver, efficiency optimiser, and it can be used to generate new and complementary revenue streams for companies. It delivers real business value and a competitive advantage," he says.

"So, where the natural business reaction might be to 'shelter and protect' in tough times, we are seeing forward-thinking companies coming to us looking to invest in new mobility solutions that will cut costs and grow revenue streams at the same time," he says.

Cutting travel costs, maximising sales time

Bannerman points out that rising fuel costs and the upcoming e-tolls look set to substantially increase costs for companies that manage teams of sales representatives, drivers or technicians.

ITWeb Business Intelligence Summit and Awards 2013

The 8th Annual ITWeb Business Intelligence Summit and Awards takes place on 26 and 27 February 2013, with a workshop on 28 February. Themed "Integrated BI for optimised performance", the 2013 summit empowers BI practitioners to derive the maximum value from their BI implementations. For more information and to reserve your seat, Click here.

"These increasing costs mean the travel cost of your sales force is one of your company's largest expenses. Companies looking to minimise travel costs and maximise the time their team spends on the road can typically cut up to 10% off their team's travelling time through an effective sales force management application," Bannerman says.

Effective mobile business applications can limit the number of times sales teams have to go into the office, for example, allowing them to minimise non-essential travel. In addition, the time they save by not having to go into the office for administrative functions means they have more time to spend productively on customer-facing engagements, thus generating more revenue.

Bannerman says: "Cutting one trip a week to the office per person gives a 5% to 10% increase in customer-facing time while simultaneously reducing travel and associated logistical costs. We are finding the combination of these two means there are compelling investment cases where you see a return on the mobile business application investment in a short period, regardless of the size of the enterprise."

Presenting new revenue streams

Mobile business applications are not only beneficial in terms of cost management, says Bannerman. Importantly, these tools can also be used to actively generate new and complementary revenue streams.

In many instances, companies record and store detailed information and analysis about the style and manner in which end-users consume their products. Often, end-users will find this detailed analysis valuable, to the extent that they are comfortable in a subscription or fee model for access.

This ends up in a win-win situation, both driving new revenue streams for the organisation, while providing the end-client with a valuable service.

Take, for example, a telecoms company that is able to make billing and usage information available to its customers in real time. Customers would not have to wait until the end of the month for this information, but can rather enjoy near real-time analysis on key measurables such as total costs, patterns of consumption, as well as specific products consumed (data, voice, SMS, etc). Another example, he says, would be a fleet management solution that can highlight anomalies on a near real-time basis.

"Mobility is now about delivering business value," says Bannerman, "and in difficult times, this is an imperative. There is no better time to invest in it."

Bannerman will outline the cost savings and business opportunities presented by mobile BI at the ITWeb BI Summit, from 26 to 28 February 2013, at The Forum, in Bryanston. For more information about this event, click here.

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