Smart-phones and the surrounding developer ecosystems present unlimited opportunity to enterprises to provide real-time visibility to customers, employees and decision makers. This is especially true for logistics and supply chain functions, where the “last mile” visibility is always a tough issue to manage. Enterprise mobility solutions can bring in process efficiencies that can result in considerable cost savings as well as service level improvements. Some of the key factors that need to be considered by a CIO before a mobile solutions deployment are mobile technology platforms, enterprise systems integration, security and mobile device management.
Following are some of the mobility trends that are most relevant for the logistics industry: Today’s smart-phones come equipped with features like bar-code scanning, ability to capture signatures, GPS & maps integration, and camera integration, which eliminate the need for specialized devices to perform these functions. Ability to create and deploy mobile applications within the enterprise easily means that the employees and executives within the enterprise can now be empowered with real-time visibility, enabling exceptions to be managed as they take place, and not after an escalation cycle.
There are two broad categories of mobile applications in Logistics
1) Enterprise to employee
2) Enterprise to consumer
This article talks more about enterprise to employee. Some examples of the same are
- Fleet Management applications ( Vehicle Tracking / Job Scheduling applications etc)
- Warehousing solutions ( Inventory and warehousing systems)
- Field force automation applications (Proof of delivery systems, Sales agent applications)
- Cross Function enterprise applications (Business Intelligence, Alerts, Workflow management)
In the transportation and logistics sector, optimized fleet management is a key success factor. An efficiently run organization can reduce costs as well as improve the delivery service levels. An example is a mobile application which doubles up as a GPS tracking system as well as Job dispatching system – thus ensuring that the backend dispatches the jobs based on real time information.
“One customer we worked with has implemented a pilot proof of delivery system using a windows mobile based application and this has reduced the overall cash cycle time by 1.5 days. The encouraging results have prompted the management to roll this system out across the company”
But to achieve the above benefits, a lot of challenges have to be overcome by the logistics CIO. Keep watching this space for more on mobility in logistics