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Ron Schmelzer

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What's the Value of a Wireless Business?

What's the Value of a Wireless Business?

Wireless solutions accelerate business, but before widespread adoption can occur, the value of business process acceleration and the role of wireless within it must be more clearly articulated.

While not always explicitly asked, the question, "What's a wireless business worth?" - along with most wireless software pitches - often draws blank stares or a blatant lack of interest. It's not that wireless software isn't cutting edge or that it lacks unique business capabilities. The problem is that wireless software is being positioned and pitched as the end-all cure to a company's "wireless problem."

The catch is that there's no such thing as a wireless problem, and all the cutting-edge technology in the world won't create one. There has been a lot of talk about how slowly the wireless software industry has grown in comparison to initial growth projections. Contrary to what many analysts would have you believe, growth has not been stymied by unavoidable externalities like infrastructure, small screen sizes, or 3G auction delays. Slow growth, quite simply, has been caused by the inability to articulate the value that wireless software offers to business.

So, What's the Value?
The real value of wireless software - so often missed by the companies selling it - is using its functionality to remove costly and time-intensive delays from traditional business processes.

Think about why millions of people carry cellphones: to do things faster. To receive an important call regardless of where a person is located. To join an early morning conference call on time while caught in rush-hour traffic. To contact a customer immediately without being in the office. To place an emergency call during an urgent situation. Mobile phones have become killer devices because they accelerate correspondence and responses. They are powerful because they allow people to do things faster.

The same value applies to wireless software in business. Every day in large corporations, there are thousands of events and routine processes occurring that can be accelerated and automated by using wireless and mobile technologies. Just as a person uses a cellphone to conduct business while in traffic, wireless software can alert employees to respond to mission-critical process breakdowns immediately, regardless of location.

Modern times demand this accessibility and response to business issues, as noted by business management guru Peter Drucker: "...we now live in a time far more competitive than any previous period in history, for the simple reason that with knowledge universally accessible, there are no excuses for non-performance."

As fewer employees are expected to manage increasing workloads, companies yearning to effectively compete must empower their employees to do more in less time.

A Real-World Example
Consider the following example: a large computer hardware manufacturer has an industry-leading process for taking and processing orders, and manufacturing a product. However, competition has forced the company to sign service-level agreements with all large accounts. If the company is unable to deliver within a certain time frame, discounts begin to accrue and sharply drive down margins.

Exceptions within automated processes can cause breakdowns, triggering a series of events that jeopardize service-level agreements and potentially cost millions to repair. For example, consider the customer credit rating process. If a customer's credit score is too low, his or her order must be held until alternate payment plans are made. The automated payment process is interrupted when a low score is identified, and an e-mail notification is sent to an inside sales representative. The inside sales representative contacts the finance department to gather additional information, and then calls the account executive responsible for the account. The account executive creates alternative payment options and relays them to the account. Once the alternative payment option is determined, the new order is sent back to the inside sales representative who enters it into the purchasing system to complete the cycle.

This series of correspondence via e-mail and the phone takes an average of 1.7 to 3.0 days to complete, requiring over 30% of the inside sales representative's daily selling time. Leveraging technology that automatically contacts the appropriate individuals at any location via any device is a primary method of preventing these staggering costs. The lower margin from missing the agreed-to ship date is recaptured, and fewer sales representatives are required to generate the same volume of sales - equivalent to annual savings of $30-35 million. If opportunity costs were calculated, this particular manufacturer lost approximately $1.3 million each year per sales representative.

The timely information interaction capabilities needed to solve the problem above can be delivered through automation and acceleration software that leverages wireless connectivity and data access. Properly installed and functioning, this software allows people to do things faster so they can be more productive.

Who Cares About Wireless in the Enterprise?
The scale of time and cost savings speaks for itself - literally thousands of people care. The person responsible for the breakdown in the process cares. The company's executive staff cares, as do employees and shareholders. The same people, however, would still wonder why their company needs wireless capabilities if they don't understand how wireless solutions accelerate business.

For widespread adoption to occur, the value of business process acceleration and the role of wireless within it must be clearly articulated. At that point, wireless functionality will appear across a plethora of business processes - reducing delays and ultimately accelerating business.

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