Is your B2B industry about to go mobile?

Why Mobile ERP, Why Now?

blog series by xkzero

Goodbye printed product catalogs, adios order sheets, see ya, outdated price lists. And good riddance,
“I’ll send you a quote when I get back to the office
on Monday.”

Mobile has become such a part of the way we live that our dependence upon it extends well beyond personal use. As far as business is concerned, pretty much every leading business-to-consumer brand has a mobile-based site. It’s even common to check competitor prices with a phone right from the store aisle.

We know the convenience mobile devices offer us as consumers. And while certain industries have invested heavily in mobile for years, a big change is that any and all businesses now seem to be ready.

Why now?
Mobile was once thought of as trendy, and only used by high-tech, cutting edge industries. We can thank the trailblazers for working out many of the bugs to make it easy for businesses just getting started now. Smartphone and tablet technology today is more reliable, flexible, and dependable. Luckily, increased storage space lets us install and use a variety of apps, and access off-site information. Also, Internet connectivity is available nearly everywhere—if not via WiFi, at least using cellular data.

Which industries can benefit from mobile?
Now that the early adopters have paved the path, mainstream business-to-business (B-to-B) companies are rapidly discovering the unique uses for mobile devices and apps.

Here are just a few examples of how companies in various B-to-B industries are automating processes with hand-held devices:

Commercial Landscaper
We’ve had the opportunity to work with businesses in a wide range of industries that are taking advantage of the special nature of mobile technology. We were able to help a Minnesota-based commercial landscaper conduct business from places where even a laptop would be too bulky to carry, or otherwise impractical.

Now, with our mobile tools, the company’s sales reps can order materials right from the job site. Not only are they able to enter customer quotes and orders this way, but while at client sites, they can also add photos and sketches on the spot and send them back to the ERP. This gives the installation team instant access to job requirements so they can immediately get started on plans and ask questions before the rep even leaves the site.

This saves time once needed for duplicate entry into the back office system. Also, the tablet’s camera and drawing capabilities provide team members in any location with a previously unavailable 360-degree view of the job site.

Heavy Equipment Supplier
We’ve seen a heavy equipment supplier benefit from mobile, too. A Texas-based cement truck company now deploys its sales people to customer sites using apps on their tablets to enter orders and provide price quotes. In this industry, it’s vital to submit an “all-in” price, which includes shipping costs. Our mobile shipping app helps this company get the best carrier rates—right on their smart devices. Providing an all-in price quickly allows them to close the deal faster than ever before.

Decorative Home Products Manufacturer
Smart devices are also transforming the way companies work at trade shows, where it’s increasingly becoming the norm to book a sale on the spot and not risk losing the deal later. One decorative home products company is no longer beholden to laptops or even at the mercy of spotty terminal services connections typical in many conference halls. This improvement is a result of using our mobile sales app, which can work offline, thus making booking sales at the trade show a more immediate—and much less stressful process.

More Than Just Sales
While conducting sales functions with mobile is a natural fit, automation of any aspect of the business has become a reality. This is especially true in warehouse operations, and is the case with one of our clients, a leading manufacturer of point-of-sale mobile device accessories. The company was fortunate to experience great success in product sales. Then, as demand grew, they discovered the picking, packing and shipping methods they had been using created a bottleneck. To solve this, we were able to provide an app that would automate those processes and ship thousands of orders per day—using the super-portable iPad minis.

One trend is clear. Just as 25 years ago most small and mid-sized businesses replaced paper-based systems with automated software systems, today, businesses in a wide range of industries are replacing paper-based sales and warehouse systems with mobile. Yes, that includes your industry.

Why Mobile ERP, Why Now?
blog series by xkzero
This article is part of a series based on xkzero co-founder Paul Ziliak’s talk at Sage Summit 2014 called “Why Mobile, Why Now?: A Decision Maker’s Guide to Business Success.”

Paul Ziliak, xkzero Co-Founder

Paul Ziliak, xkzero Co-Founder

Through our blog, we bring to you some of the ideas initially shared in this talk. We will also continue to add new insights about why mobile for ERP is here to stay and how you can get the jump on your competitors by incorporating everything special about mobile technology into your business now.

You may also like this story from the series: Establishing Trust with Mobile ERP.