Mobility saves time--and trees

Firms and employees in industries that have relied for decades on manual processes and paper forms are increasingly turning to mobile devices and apps to more efficiently and effectively perform tasks and boost productivity.  

That is the finding of a number of surveys published recently.

According to a survey of 1,100 IT and business decision makers conducted by mobile app developer Canvas, inspections and work orders--which used to be primarily paper based--are the most heavily used mobile apps for workers at firms that have relied on paper forms and manual processes.

Industries examined include construction and contracting, retail and distribution, healthcare, manufacturing, and transportation and logistics.

Other popular uses of mobile apps include checklists, surveys, invoices and inventories.

"That businesses are going mobile is not a surprise; what this survey demonstrates is that organizations of all shapes and sizes are looking to a broadening array of mobile services to improve their business processes. Everyone from educational institutions and hospitals to large construction companies and service organizations are shifting core business processes to mobile; drawn to the ability of mobile apps to solve challenges associated with inefficient paper-based processes," comments James Quigley, co-founder and CEO of Canvas.

According to a survey 260 decision makers at field services firms conducted by the Services Council and funded by Honeywell, more than 80 percent of respondents have provided mobile devices to their technicians to improve productivity.

Unfortunately, not all of these firms are developing or purchasing the right mobile apps to leverage these devices to automate various tasks, such as clocking in and out and expense recording. "A large percentage of organizations are still struggling with really driving necessary enhancements from the perspective of productivity growth, cost management, and revenue improvement," according to the report based on the survey.

One solution is to invest in improvements in workflow processes. "There are many areas of low-hanging fruit available to service leaders to improve their workflow processes and results. As such, investments made in process change, the supporting technologies, and also in people need to be targeted and evaluated with these strategy goals in mind," says Sumair Dutta, chief customer officer of the Service Council and author of the report.

While many pundits claim that the paperless office is a myth, mobility is helping once paper-dependent industries break free from paper, save time--and trees. - Fred