Being Able to Get to Anything, Anywhere Goes a Long Way to Increase Efficiency

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2011-12-28 Print this article Print


The FileMaker Go product pushes information to the Convention Center's iPads every five minutes. The information is filtered so that each worker only sees what's relevant. This means that workers get their work orders on an iPad, directly from IT, rather than having to visit the IT service desk (and walking six blocks in the process) each time they need a new work order.

"It's all about productivity," said Craig Mathias, an analyst with the Farpoint Group. "Being able to get to anything, anywhere goes a long way in increasing efficiency," he said.

Mobility is transforming how IT works in many organizations because you can have the information you need anywhere.

"Mobility is about minimizing the latency between knowing and doing," Mathias explained. "Mobility minimizes the latency. You can just do it instead of going back to your desk."

The efficiencies of mobility are a clear trend to some businesses because they allow the IT department to interact directly with end users, regardless of where they are located.

"To a large extent, there are a lot of companies that couldn't function if they didn't have mobile," said Jack Gold, principal analyst of J. Gold Associates. "They include companies that do deliveries, retailers who rely on portable terminals or people checking in goods."

The efficiencies that IT finds with delivering mobile support to employees also apply to the IT department itself, said Gold. This is especially the case with analytics.

"You can get a sense of how things are doing," said Gold. "Are things working well? IT management on a mobile device can do some interesting stuff, given the right analytics, even on a moment-by-moment basis. The other thing mobility does is allow a fully distributed IT staff. They don't have to be sitting in one spot. You could have IT in India."

In fact, mobility can streamline the IT organization in ways that few had anticipated.

"The NOC [network operations center] is probably doomed," said Mathias. "Wherever an individual happens to be, they can get out their iPad or their notebook. Having people sit around all day and watch the network is how it used to be. If they're away from their desk, they can still see what's going on, and fix it. Now, you can look at any console anywhere."

Of course, there's more to IT than just running the data center. There's also development.

Todd DeCapua, vice president of Channel Operations and Services for Shunra Software, explained that he learned just how critical mobility could be when he was running a development team at ING Direct.

Mobile technology has created some true efficiencies for the IT department-including real-time updating, accessibility, real-time management and problem management-that reduce overhead and speed up response time, DeCapua said. Another essential feature for IT departments that do development is the ability to alert team members when they "break the build," he added, so that they could respond to the need to fix what didn't work when their part of the development project didn't work, and not delay the rest of the effort.

Developers should build Short Message Service (SMS) alerts into continuous integration technology.

"We were doing about 160 builds a day. If you can build in that capability, it's quite a development. You could be doing deployment hourly," said DeCapua, adding that having constant access to developers was the only way that the IT department could keep up the required pace of development.

Ultimately, of course, IT efficiency is about making things work better and also about saving money, something that Joe Gonzales has learned can be better than he ever expected.

"It has streamlined issues when they happen; it eliminates the time walking around," said Gonzales. "It has meant that employees don't have to go around searching for data. It cuts time in responding to customers, and when a new order comes in, we don't spend all of this back-and-forth time."

And the success of mobile IT shows up on the bottom line, too.

"The savings were estimated to be $60,000 to $80,000 a year," said Gonzales before adding that it actually turned out better than expected.

"The savings are way above that," Gonzales notes. "During our first six months, we exceeded that. We got to a 200 percent ROI quickly."

Gonzales said that the return on investment is going to be much better than that as the staff learns the system and more iPads are deployed. "It easily cuts time by two-thirds during a move in," said Gonzales, adding that the savings go straight to the bottom line.


Wayne Rash Wayne Rash is a Senior Analyst for eWEEK Labs and runs the magazineÔÇÖs Washington Bureau. Prior to joining eWEEK as a Senior Writer on wireless technology, he was a Senior Contributing Editor and previously a Senior Analyst in the InfoWorld Test Center. He was also a reviewer for Federal Computer Week and Information Security Magazine. Previously, he ran the reviews and events departments at CMP's InternetWeek.

He is a retired naval officer, a former principal at American Management Systems and a long-time columnist for Byte Magazine. He is a regular contributor to Plane & Pilot Magazine and The Washington Post.

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