Top 3 Investments to Optimize Mobile Technology in the Supply Chain
Faster. Cheaper. More.
You can essentially boil down the modern consumer’s mindset to these three words. The continued dominance of Amazon and other e-commerce giants has kicked off an arms race of sorts, wherein every supply chain must be as efficient and optimized as possible to satisfy consumer expectations for a 24x7x365 online-centric retail environment with immediate delivery options galore.
In short, it is a time of profound digital transformation wherein technologies such as automation and real-time data analytics are reshaping the hub of the supply chain as we know it, that bustling distribution center that is your warehouse.
Nothing is more impactful, however, to your employees’ daily tasks than mobile technology such as rugged devices and scanners. Whether you’re a warehouse and operations manager/director or an operational IT manager/director, you’re probably scratching your head as to exactly which aspects of mobile technology you should concentrate your limited budget on in order to get and stay ahead.
For example, according to a recent study by VDC, the top three mobile investment priorities are to increase picking efficiency, increase employee productivity and improve the use of limited warehouse/DC space. The good news is there are three distinct areas of mobile technology that will help yield these results:
- Improving efficiency, like enhancing time-to-pick
- Reducing costs
- Faster training and employee on-boarding
- Mitigating error rates, lost inventory and inaccurate reporting
Read on to find out how you can benefit in your warehouse/supply chain operations.
1. MOBILE DEVICE MANAGEMENT
Once your mobile devices are deployed and in use, nothing is as important as an effective Mobile Device Management (MDM) solution to ensure that they run seamlessly. The right dedicated MDM platform allows you to easily manage and update your devices and their applications remotely, without the need for physical intervention.
One of the most important decisions regarding MDM, however, is whether to do it with your in-house team or via third-party providers. It’s tempting to task your existing IT support team with this responsibility, but your best bet may be to engage a third-party provider or managed mobility specialist with the bandwidth and specialized knowledge to handle enterprise-grade MDM.
2. MOBILE DEVICE SECURITY
One of the most perilous areas of liability for businesses now is in protecting at-risk data. Sensitive company and customer data constantly move across your mobile device ecosystem — both on the physical devices and when transmitted — and each of those touchpoints represents a danger zone where hacking and breaches can cause problems.
Defense-grade mobile security suites such as Samsung’s Knox platform can mitigate risks by isolating, encrypting and securing your most valuable data.
3. MIGRATION TO MODERN PLATFORMS
As a warehouse and operations manager/director or an operational IT manager/director, there’s a very good chance that you’re still using legacy hardware and platforms like Windows CE for your daily operations. The conventional wisdom guiding your technology budgets says, “If it ain’t broke, why fix it?”
There are actually quite a few good reasons for fixing this situation by leaving behind legacy platforms. Remember those security liabilities we just talked about? Legacy systems are either completely EOLed (End of Life) or nearing it, thereby not receiving patches to address new and emerging digital threats.
Additionally, these legacy platforms will become increasingly incompatible with new devices and associated apps. This compounds the already suboptimal functionality — impacting employees’ productivity and creating a poor user experience, which dramatically increases time to train on the task.
Migrating to a modern enterprise-grade ecosystem such as Android makes all of the difference. It’s not a small task, so be sure to start with a smart mobile blueprint that takes into account all aspects from infrastructure to training to deployment and Day-2 support.
Modernizing these aspects of mobile warehouse technology offers exciting opportunities to increase your supply chain efficiency, productivity and profitability. It’s exactly what you need to retain a competitive edge in an uncertain and fast-moving environment of widespread digital transformation.
For more insights on transforming your warehouse operations, read our new whitepaper, The Definitive Guide to Warehouse Efficiency.
Micah Robinson is enterprise mobility content manager at Stratix.