SAN FRANCISCO: Apple iPhones are far more useful enterprise productivity aids than traditional laptops, according to Coca-Cola Enterprises' director of enterprise mobility Don Weatherly.
Weatherly said smart devices such as the iPhone, when loaded with proper applications, have the potential to revolutionise the way key departments in enterprise-level companies operate.
Speaking during a breakout session at Dreamforce 2013, Weatherly cited his experience in moving the company from an older SAP customer relationship management (CRM) system to a newer mobile-focused Salesforce architecture as proof of his claim.
"Recently we've taken a system that traditionally used laptops and replaced it with one designed for people using iPhones. The results have been very good. We're getting 30 to 40 minutes extra time per day from our workers," he said.
Weatherly said older laptop-based CRM solutions are too slow and cumbersome in the modern businesses world.
"We've got over 40 brands and we've got 2,000 sales reps. Prior to our new 360 Connect system the 2,000 sales reps were on an SAP CRM that was cumbersome and laptop based. This meant they had to open the laptop and get VPN connection every time. It was so cumbersome they didn't use their laptops when on a call to an account," he said.
"There was a lack of transparency, this meant they were spending too much time on admin tasks. They'd scribble stuff down on paper, go back to their car, go home and then type it into their computer. We wanted to go to a new platform that could make you more efficient, that's what we did with 360 Connect, which has a Salesforce back end."
Weatherly said the system lets the workers do all the same things they would on a laptop on their smartphone and features several other productivity features.
"Think about inventory checking. We have over 500,000 coolers over multiple different countries. Knowing where they are at any one time is challenging. What we wanted to do is take all this information, streamline it and make it as easy to access as possible," he said.
"Before, if our reps wanted to check which one they were looking at they'd have to write down a serial number then enter it into their laptop. Now they just have to enter the account number into their phone or capture it with the camera. We've also created Bluetooth aspect tags. This means a sales rep can go into a store and scan the Bluetooth tags to find everything they need."
While the potential benefits of enterprise mobile applications are huge, Weatherly warned that there are several potential pitfalls businesses must avoid when deploying them. "The day of enterprise apps that don't look as good as consumer apps is over," he said.
"They [workers] see and use smartphones and apps all the time. This means they have a set of expectations and if you don't meet them you're going to struggle with adoption. Some of the key learnings we've had is that if you want your sales people doing sales, not admin, focus on the application's user interface as much as the functionality."
Weatherly is one of many technology professionals to call for app developers to focus on creating simple to use and understand application interfaces. Yahoo chief executive officer Marissa Mayer made similar comments at a keynote earlier in the week and the CEO of CA Technologies said firms must embrace the app revolution to improve staff efficiency.
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