The idea of mobile ERP is not new. While the internet has made a more functional connection to data possible, especially across multiple sites, the development of mobile devices has changed the face of business and ERP software both, and will continue to do so. Mobility is no longer electronic data connections throughout warehouses. Mobility means taking a sale to the street in real time – data at your fingertips anywhere, including off-site. This concept will continue to change and develop as time goes on but here are some important things to get the wheels turning as you think about what mobile devices mean for your ERP selection and implementation:

The new trend and the case for the mobile salesman. It’s no secret the way we have all become attached to our mobile phones. They’ve become a centerpiece of personal freedom and information access. It’s only natural to take that to the next level and make the transition to the business world. The possibilities are greater than just having access to data anywhere. The power of impression at the fingertips of a capable user with an impressive device can turn intrigue into a sale. Taking that sale and eliminating the gap in closing by making it real-time and accessible from anywhere can have a powerful impact when connected to the right ERP system for your business.

The difference between PC, smartphone and tablet. Think of it like cars. You have trucks for heavy lifting and big jobs just like you have PCs for real data crunching. You have coupes for quick and easy accessibility, just like smartphones. Trucks are bad for getting around the city. Coupes are bad for big jobs. Tablets are less completely understood but they are not El Caminos. They have a different skillset – greater screen real estate than a phone but less power than a PC. Your mobile connection to your ERP has to accommodate the difference in functionality that is dependent on the device accessing it.

User interface/user experience. A PC, phone and tablet are not only used for different things; they also offer a different exchange. Mouse pointers and right clicks don’t work on mobile devices. The way these devices are used must be more intuitive and simplified. Being able to access your ERP through your phone is great if it supports the quick gain you are looking for. You want to see what you need to see quickly and interpret it effectively. In the case of a sale, you won’t have long before you look like Abraham Lincoln trying to drive a stick shift if you cannot get to the point fast. If mobility really is part of the way you want to do business, ask your ERP vendor to show you how to pull a report or complete an order on a tablet. If they can’t do it before you get distracted how do you expect someone who is already on the fence to remain interested?

The difference between an app and a mobile website. You’ve heard this one just as many times as I have. It’s a website and mobile devices have access to the internet. However, the internet on a mobile device is different. That’s what mobile websites are for, but there’s a reason your bank has a mobile website and an app. Mobile websites are for quick information. Apps are for simple transactional functionality. Make sure you understand what your ERP system can do through a mobile website and what it does through an app if it has one. The difference may cost more money.

These are just some quick thoughts that should be on your mind if you are selecting and implementing an ERP system and have a desire to pursue mobility for your business. Mobile ERP doesn’t mean much if you don’t have a good strategy for confronting this topic and what it means for your business. Mobile ERP is significant in its simplicity, though, when you start to think about how you want to go about implementing the strategy you’ve begun to develop.

Written by Adam Cheatham, ERP Consultant at Panorama Consulting Solutions.

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