So, what's next?
There is a relatively silent evolution brewing on the ERP front. While most of the talk these days revolves around "the cloud", I have been witness to the tremendous growth of mobile applications and their ability to extend the power of ERP systems for my customers. Part of the reason for this growth is availability: For example, only a few years ago, implementing mobile applications meant purchasing very expensive hand-held units at anywhere from $1,500 to $3,000 each. In addition to that, available development platforms for these units were limited in functionality and connectivity. Last, but not least, high cost of development and training meant market offerings were limited and very expensive, so only larger companies could benefit and obtain a positive return on investment in a reasonable amount of time.
That has been changing, fast. The popularity of mobile equipment such as the iPhone, iPad and Android-based phones and tablets has made developers take notice and many are making their applications available on these platforms. Not only are these devices a lot cheaper than still-available "industrial" mobile devices, but also the application development tools available allow for seamless integration to business-class applications, and standardized, easy to use, interfaces. And so these devices are ushering a new era of mobile applications that are already touching every single aspect of our daily lives, personal and business.
Take the following examples (and success stories) of mobile apps functionalities:
- Field sales: This is an obvious one. Providing your personnel in the field on-line wireless remote access to your ERP information on customers, items, current offers, etc., is a no brainer. These applications provide enormous functionality such as taking sales orders, collection, merchandising, truck management, and much more. And the fact that all of these devices have GPS, Wi-Fi and cellular capabilities, these applications can exploit them to provide better than ever reporting of When, Where, How Long, and other statistics that can allow your company to achieve better efficiencies. Finally, field sales applications are are not confined to salespeople out on the streets, either: How many of you aren't impressed with the seamless mobile device applications used at Apple Stores, for example?
- Warehouse management: Within the four walls, there is a lot to be managed, and some of the best in the business are exploiting the capabilities of iPads to make their powerhouse WMS software available to ever-smaller companies. Hand-held devices are ideal for picking, packing, and shipping, and all mobile devices discussed here have barcode scanning capabilities in a very compact package.
- Medical applications: Think Dr. House holding an iPad containing that perennial medical history before shooting the next outrageous diagnosis. Ordering prescriptions, adding comments on patient condition and status, and yes, sending all the data back to the accounting system for billing.
- Collections: While some may not like it, you can't hide anymore. That person at the door holds all your past-due information in the palm of his/her hand. Connected to their central systems, users can review real-time data, and arrange for you to sign any agreement on the spot.
- Insurance services: So THAT'S what the camera is for! This is a very practical application that some insurance companies are piloting right now. Sign-in, take a picture and file a claim, all right on the spot with no delays.
The list could go on. I believe mobile computing is the revolution happening in the business systems' world right now. It is accessible in terms of pricing, availability, even for smaller businesses. There are many custom built applications that interface with popular ERP systems such as Dynamics GP. And it is not only about applications that actually run in your mobile device. Web-based, tablet-delivered applications are a winner for many since it makes the platform irrelevant.
As part of our commitment to our customer base, ICON has been delivering mobile solutions for Dynamics GP for years now, and many of our customers have benefited from implementing iPad- and iPhone-based mobile solutions, integrated with Dynamics GP in real time or near-real time.
Interested? Curious? We will be happy to answer your questions, so
ICON is in business since 1987, making good on our promise to make our customers more efficient and profitable. In times where operational efficiency and increased sales are a must, mobile computing as an add-on to your Dynamics GP solution simply makes sense.