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How Enterprise Mobility is enabling virtual offices


The Narendra Modi government’s focus on Digital India and e-governance has encouraged tech projects in states and the centre. The government is not only bringing mobility solutions for citizens but also for officers to bring in more efficiency for better and transparent governance.

By Rashi Varshney

With an improvement in telecom infrastructure and availability of high speed devices and
Every firm today wants to improve effectiveness apart from efficiency of the executives in order to increase its market share, and revenues globally. Since mobile technology plays an important role owing to its growing popularity and adoption, enterprises are capitalising on ‘not in office’ norm with innovative enterprise mobility solutions. Thanks to effective enterprise mobility solutions, enterprises are now comfortable with the concept of virtual offices. The benefits of enterprise mobility could be multiple and extraordinary, which cannot be performed otherwise sitting in the premises of an office. Looking at the exponential benefits of mobility, private enterprises as well as Government departments are adopting enterprise mobility in a big way.

A case in point which showcases how enterprise mobility can bring in huge efficiencies is Jagran Prakashan (JPL), the publisher of leading Hindi daily Dainik Jagran, which publishes a total of 11 newspapers and a magazine from 37 different printing facilities across 13 states in five different languages. The firm is also the owner of FM Radio Station ‘Radio City’. The firm has deployed Oracle WebCenter Portal to create a dynamic, secure, and intuitive self-service enterprise portal and integrated it with Oracle’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) system and other applications, such as the organizational mass mailing system, business intelligence, and management information system.

Jagran Prakashan wanted to diversify its businesses in multiple geographic locations and needed to implement a centralised and user-friendly enterprise portal to increase business agility and improve document sharing and collaboration across device platforms. The Oracle WebCenter Portal helped the firm in optimising mobile experiences for Jagran Prakashan’s target devices. They were able to embed the approval workflow processes into the enterprise portal and this provided its users with an integrated and intuitive interface. Now, about 30% of JPL’s sales staff members have tablets and because of application mobility, they no longer need to return to the office, which has significantly improved efficiency and increased business agility.

Similarly, Safexpress, India’s prominent logistics and supply chain management company, which provides door-to-door delivery services for commercial goods and cargo throughout India wanted to streamline its internal processes, and provide decision making and communication tools to its sales force and operations teams. The company sought to deploy tablets and rugged handheld terminals to 1,500 delivery vehicle drivers. It also sought to provide communication and CRM tools to its business development and customer account management teams, and arm its operations managers located throughout India with mobile devices to enhance decision making. The deployment of AirWatch-VMWare helped the company to enhance its delivery operations by capturing real-time data and in providing speedy updates to the transport management system and in improving its efficiency by tracking the company’s workforce.

“Mobile environments have emerged to be one of the key areas of focus for businesses in India. Companies are evolving at a rapid pace and are engaging with prospective customers to provide engaging mobile app experiences. Multi-channel, mobile environments were the new normal in 2015,” says Mitesh Agarwal, Vice President, Sales Consulting & CTO, Oracle India.

Agarwal says that workers and customers alike are untethered, which is enabling new business models and transforming industries. If we look at Uber, SnapChat, or even Facebook, 400 million of their users log in only with their mobile devices. “In other words, mobility is now becoming the primary way for consumers to interact with a brand and get things done. To adapt to this changing paradigm, businesses are adopting a ‘Mobile-First’ strategy. In 2015, we witnessed that companies were focused on making mobility a core part of their business, and the primary channel by which they engage with customers,” opines Agarwal.

Tablets replacing laptops

With the number of mobile Internet users in India projected to double and cross the 300 million mark by 2017 according to a report by KPMG, business mobility is emerging as a top priority for Indian enterprises.

“We are shifting to newer systems of engagement and though enterprises were a little apprehensive in going all out, today, they seem to have come to terms with it as something which cannot be ignored. With proliferation of IoT into enterprises, the significance of mobility transforming the business is integral and most companies are building or have already built a roadmap for their strategic mobility initiatives,” says Deepak Kadambi, Director – Marketing for Product Engineering Services, Happiest Minds Technologies.

He said that mobility is transforming the enterprise, and this is leading to a plethora of native cloud platforms being launched, and tablets are already replacing laptops in enterprises. “Last year, enterprises spent around 40% of their time on native apps, and around 30% on hybrid apps (according to Forrester & Gartner). This clearly shows the focus on native apps and the emphasis on delivering the same experience to employees and customers alike. By 2017, we predict that 25% of enterprises will have an enterprise app store for managing corporate-sanctioned apps across their organisation,” elaborates Kadambi.

Take the case of NBFC, Magma Fincorp. The firm offers a bouquet of financial products, and operates through 232 branches in 25 states, employing over 9,000 people. Sales executives at Magma were spending a lot of time capturing customer requirements, collecting KYC and other documents, responding to queries from the operations and credit teams, while commuting between customers, dealer locations and Magma offices.

In order to accelerate the process, Magma Fincorp implemented a mobile based loan sourcing and CRM solution that was provisioned on Android devices for the team on the field. By using VMware’s AirWatch, the IT team at Magma Fincorp were able to setup a highly scalable mobility management platform to secure and manage their complete fleet of over 4000 mobile devices. The firm had also a single management platform for securing and provisioning the devices with device level configurations.

Chargers of Enterprise Mobility

Indrajit Belgundi, Director & General Manager, End User Computing, Dell India believes that enterprise mobility ensures the best way to complete the job and hence it is a must in today’s world. “We believe there are only two things which are mobile, i.e., people and data. Since we know that people are mobile, we need to give them the best available tools to complete the job. The tools can be laptops, notebook, tablets, or hybrids. Now, many years back, data used to be locked in a secure environment or only on the server. But now, data is no longer locked to a particular device, and data needs to be available with people to work on it,” says Belgundi.

In India, organisations are seeing enterprise mobility as a tool for enhancing productivity and efficiency of the organisation as a whole, and their employees.  Mirroring the same view, Oracle’s Agarwal says that in many cases the drive towards mobility is driven from within the organisation, as innovative users and line of business managers accelerate the need for a mobile strategy. “Line-of-business users want to be able to extend their enterprise applications to mobile devices because keeping the workforce connected empowers everyone to make decisions, take action, and stay informed. IT developers and architects want to be able to extend their current skill sets and tools to embrace mobile paradigms, develop new types of mobile apps, and spearhead strategic, innovative endeavours for the enterprise.”

Driving factors

India recently surpassed United States in the number of smartphones, and became the second largest smartphone market in the world, according to a new report from market research firm Counterpoint. India’s smartphone user base increased to 220 million by the end of last year. Overall, for the complete year of 2015, smartphone shipments crossed the 100 million mark, which represents a year-on-year growth of 23%.

Besides the growing number of mobile devices in India, factors such as application adoption, and a huge number of startups too are fuelling the growth in India. “There are many factors driving this movement in India. For example, the sheer size of this market and the potential to grow has already made it a hotbed for mobility initiatives — both enterprise and consumer. Rise of 3G / 4G LTE, smartphones, increased PC penetration including usage of many mobility related applications by startups have fuelled this mega trend. The subcontinent will also be fuelled by disruptive Technologies such as SMAC. Some of the areas where we see this happening are across infrastructure, applications and end users,” says Happiest Minds’ Kadambi. In some ways, mobility is taking the same trajectory as that taken by the web when it came into being. “Today nobody questions the need for a web presence. Similarly time has come when it is imperative to have a mobile presence for all applications and services,” says Kadambi.

India Inc and Enterprise mobility

Speaking about CIOs in India adopting enterprise mobility, Sangeeta Giri, Sales Director – AirWatch, VMWare says that while CIOs rank mobility as one of their highest priorities, Indian businesses today are in varying stages of maturity when it comes to mobility. “Top sectors witnessing the adoption of a mobility strategy ahead of others are BFSI, IT/ ITES, Telecom and FMCG,” says Giri. She further said that India represents one of the top growth markets for VMware when it comes to end user computing. Mirroring Giri’s views, Dell’s Belgundi says that BFSI, pharma, and health are the potential adopters of enterprise mobility in India.

How enterprise mobility is bringing in a new focus for the government

The Narendra Modi government’s focus on Digital India and e-governance has encouraged tech projects in states and the centre. The government is not only bringing mobility solutions for citizens but also for officers to bring in more efficiency for better and transparent governance. For instance, the Passport division of India recently launched an mPassport Police mobile app for police force.
The police department plays an important role to deliver passports and related services such as Police Clearance Certificate (PCC) to the citizens. The verification process essentially includes exchange of physical documents (PP Forms) across District Police Headquarters (DPHq), Criminal Investigation Department (CID)/ Local Intelligence Unit (LIU) and Field Verification teams, and contributes mostly to the delays in the overall police verification report processing time. The custom mobile application (mPassport Police App) which has been launched recently will enable the team to improve the overall processing cycle time.

“Under the Passport Seva Project, the MEA has been working on streamlining the police verification system by digitally integrating 685 of the 731 police districts in the country,” says Muktesh K Pardeshi, Joint Secretary (PSP) and Chief Passport Officer, Ministry of External Affairs. Pardeshi says that this initiative has helped in cutting down on the number of days taken to complete the police check from 42 days in 2014 to 34 days in 2015.

Similarly, the Bihar State Building Construction Corporation Limited (BSBCCL), a state enterprise established in 2008 by the Government of Bihar under the Building Construction Department, has used enterprise mobility in a significant way to improve its efficiencies. To smoothly manage and track its field force, the firm decided to implement a location tracker solution from Vodafone. The ‘Vodafone Location Tracker’ (VLT). The solution is a GSM network-based location tracking service where the location of the SIM or mobile number is identified on the basis of the cell tower it is latched on to.

Currently, the BSBCCL is using VLT, to monitor the status of employees and projects. All the 2G connections of the corporation have been mapped with this application and the real time status of the project and the workforce is available instantly. The application has helped in monitoring each and every scheme with respect to fund allotment, work status, expenditure, contractor assignment and work details. In addition, the leave request is now being managed with the help of this application. An employee can apply for leave and see the status of the request on the mobile app.

Also in Maharashtra , taking a lesson from the previous year’s performance where only 25 per cent of the budgetary allocations were utilised until January this year, civic chief Ajoy Mehta has promised maximum implementation of the budget in this financial year. Taking measures to avoid the occurrences of multiple scams such as the Rs 150-crore drain desilting scam and the irregularities in road contracts worth Rs 2000 crore, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is planning an application-based monitoring of expenditures. The civic body has created an application that will reflect real-time updates on the expenditures made for projects and the information will be accessible to additional municipal commissioners.

Watchout for mobility roadblocks

Like any other technology, enterprise mobility too comes with its own set of challenges. Some of the major challenges according to Kadambi are, lack of a solid road map for mobility or a strategy; the complexity of the enterprise mobility ecosystem; connecting the expectations between the demands of an enterprise user in a predominantly consumer marketplace with related lifecycles; addressing the right security concerns which matter and real time access to information and data.

To understand the mobility market better, VMWare surveyed nearly 1,200 organisations, globally, to probe their level of comfort, gauge how far they have come, and understand the obstacles that are holding them back. The survey found out that security and data loss remain top concerns for organisations as they look at business mobility. Moreover, customers equate the experience they get via a mobile or tablet app with the quality of the brand behind it, according to Oracle’s Agarwal. “The design, functionality, performance, and security of apps today have become the new weapons in the battle to attract and retain customers, and businesses that do not arm themselves appropriately have little chance of coming out on top,” says he.

The major challenges according to Agarwal, that businesses face include poor app performance and speed; impact of mobile traffic and load on backend systems and data security. “Mobile and security are strongly connected in any IT conversation. Mobile email, applications and browsing have their own risks. Shifting revenue generation and business operations to mobile carries even greater risks, along with greater returns,” says AirWatch’s Giri. However, she affirms that challenges of mobility bring out new opportunities for firms. For example, Data Leakage Protection (DLP), can be used to ensure that all data from any app that the user chooses to use will be protected by the company without the end user even knowing it.

The next frontier for enterprise mobility

The total addressable enterprise mobility solutions industry in Asia Pacific, which includes applications, devices, security, middleware, and professional services, is expected to grow from US $22B in 2015 to US$26.7B by 2017. The market in India is also slated to grow from US$1.7B in 2015 to US$2.3B in 2017 over the same period.

“We see it as a game changer and Enterprise Mobility is well-positioned to help organisations achieve their mobility goals with a holistic approach to planning, implementing, and managing mobility environments. We are seeing increased traction in the areas of ERP, CRM, SCM, Fleet Management, and Workforce Management among a few others in India. Considering the sheer size of the market with potential expansion patterns, there is a very promising future for Enterprise Mobility in India,” said Kadambi.

Predicts Agarwal, “Being able to leverage mobile technology and make it meaningful by finding significant links to multiple, varied sources of data (for example linking biometric values with environmental factors, or calendar data with home control and monitoring) is what will lead to promising developments for enterprise mobility in 2016,”.

The next frontier for enterprise computing will see the convergence of the Internet of Things with mobile computing to create the connected enterprise.

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