For one large auto parts distributor, getting a handle on mobility posed major challenges. Each of the company’s 58 distribution centers had its own mobile budget, so the technology varied by location. Capital spending was difficult to predict, and the distributor also couldn’t roll out system-wide security measures.   

Sound familiar? For many businesses, implementing mobile in distribution centers and warehouses comes with more questions than answers. Determining how much mobile costs, whether employees are using technology securely, and whether critical features such as voice picking are functioning properly can be tough for IT and line-of-business managers. Add employees bringing rogue devices and applications into the enterprise, and gaining full visibility into mobile becomes nearly impossible. 

Changing platforms and applications

Unlike the three- to five-year lifecycles of traditional business technologies, mobile is constantly changing, making it hard for organizations to keep up. Many businesses that use legacy rugged devices are currently migrating from Windows Mobile to Android and Windows 10, forcing them to refresh their hardware to support these operating systems. Updating device technology is a huge capital expenditure (although supporting legacy devices is also costly). In addition, adopting new technology creates new complexities in custom application development and support.

Each organization must find the best applications and hardware to support its own environment; some businesses require use of legacy Telnet technology, while others run desktop operating systems on their devices to meet their requirements. Selecting the right environment for common capabilities, such as voice picking, requires in-depth knowledge of the available technology platforms and ongoing support.

In addition, extreme work conditions mean bring-your-own-device is not an option for many distribution centers and warehouses. A growing number of businesses are considering a shift to consumer-based devices, but they have to perform in often challenging environments. For example, Stratix recently worked with a food distributor to use Apple iPads in a setting where the temperature varied significantly.

Getting more from MaaS

To address these challenges, a growing number of organizations are switching to a Mobility as a Service (MaaS) model. Enterprise mobility involves device management, mobile app management, network access, carrier expenses and identity verification, demanding more time and resources than many businesses can spare. MaaS frees businesses to focus on other core IT functions and offers a consistent cost structure, easy upgrade path for technology, dependable support and increased visibility into mobile assets.

Once enterprise executives choose a mobility strategy that supports the enterprise’s goals, the remaining challenges are mostly tactical. Primary MaaS tasks include provisioning; 24/7/365 user support; device repair; asset management, from procurement to disposition; access management; and application development, integration and deployment.

A rewarding strategy

With a MaaS program in place, organizations can enjoy the benefits of better customer experiences, higher productivity, more engaged employees, lower costs, higher visibility into mobility usage and greater enterprise agility.

Remember that auto parts distributor? The company worked with Stratix to implement an enterprise-wide MaaS model that included devices, deployment and repairs. The distribution centers now operate on a single platform, and upgrades happen consistently across the organization. MaaS also provides consistent service on needed repairs and a predictable monthly spend while saving the business time and resources.

Whether you call this type of outsourcing MaaS or MMS (Managed Mobility Services), the key is to use a reputable provider and an enterprise mobility strategy to help you define realistic goals and the best mix of mobility services for your organization.