There’s no boundaries between your work life and your personal life any more, said Dr Suresh Hungenahally, speaking at a panel on ‘Mobilising the workforce’ at CeBIT 2016. Dr Hungenahally, the former CISO of the Department of State Development, Business and Innovation in the Victorian government, was joined on the panel by Peter Poullin, CMO of Xplore Technologies, which manufactures rugged tablets chiefly for outdoor use. The panel was chaired by Anuraj Gambhir, strategic advisor and innovation evangelist at Avantage Global.
Benefits of real-time data access
According to both Hungenahally and Poullin, much of the benefit derived from enterprise mobility comes from the ability to generate data in real time. Hungenahally spoke of the Victorian government employing sensors on infrastructure such as road and tram lines etc., and using the data generated by these sensors to find faults, assign maintenance work and so on, while Poullin used the example of a repair technician fixing a damaged part out in the field. The technician can get the part he needs from his truck, and at the same time update the inventory database so it always has the latest information. And back at the base, those assigning the repair technicians to tasks can easily see where the technicians are at any one time, as well as what parts they have on their trucks, and direct the technicians accordingly.
This allows for a much smoother workflow, which can have a direct monetising effect, as Hungenahally pointed out. But another advantage that is often underestimated, said Poullin, is the positive effect it has on customer satisfaction. If problems are solved more quickly and efficiently, the effect on the customer can be ‘profound’.
The user factor
The biggest mistake you can make in mobility deployment, said Poullin, is not factoring in your users. The end-users need to accept the technology, or there is no way it can succeed.
Of course, factoring in users isn’t always easy – different generations will interact with the technology in different ways, and will want different things out of it. And we now have the first generation entering the workforce that have grown up with touchscreens – how do you find ways to reflect the paradigms and metaphors they’ve grown up with? This is a question we now have to ask, said Poullin.
There are also certain expectations with regards to design and usability – the whole philosophy around working is mobile, said Hungenahally, so people expect things to be fast and efficient, as well as user-friendly. Aesthetic appeal has also become more important – even Xplore’s rugged tablet have recently been developed with design as one of the major considerations, resulting in a sleeker, more elegant model than previous ones, said Poullin.
Poullin is looking forward to the further development of OLED (organic light-emitting diode) displays that will eventually replace heavier, more fragile glass. He also predicts a move towards the notion of a single device, most likely a tablet, that moves with the user throughout the day, from work to home. This has already been adopted in some areas of law enforcement, with the tablet replacing the desktop computer at the precinct, the tablet in the car, and the computer at home. This not only cuts down on the paperwork police have to do, but also eliminates the problem of data synchronisation between devices.
Hungenahally took it a step further – he sees a completely device-free world, where every surface becomes a screen, and machines will interact with humans more organically, through voice or other such means. What a world that would be …