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Positive disruption: Mobility helps business take on innovation

The humble app is just the first generation in a vast technological revolution that will either lift your business up – or sweep it away.

Slow shutterspeed shot of a city highway

Mobile technology has already taken your business beyond anything you thought possible five or 10 years ago. And if you haven’t noticed, you’ve already fallen behind.

If you have noticed, you’re already working on iterative strategies to respond to the Australian economy, which has one of the highest penetration rates of smart mobile devices in the world. Rest assured there will always be room for business to take greater advantage of mobility to improve service delivery and drive innovation.

Executive director of mobile products at Telstra, John Chambers, says the way mobile technology is connecting people today was unimaginable just 10 years ago, and the same disruption is beginning in business.

“You can see the positive disruption that mobile can bring when you look at how a mobile-first business model can change an entire industry and engage customers in ways they didn’t even know were possible,” Chambers says. “Use cases like that drive people to mobile.”

Chambers has a message for chief information officers and executives thinking about pushing business processes mobile: start by putting the customer at the centre.

“The worst kind of mobile adoption is ‘we’ve got to get on mobile because that’s where everyone is going’,” he says. “What is amazing is when staff look at the mobile form factor, the utility, the location and how customers naturally use this and consider what it means for the business.”

Imagine what ‘could be’

The director of information technology at entertainment and hospitality group Amalgamated Holdings Ltd. (AHL), Peter Bourke, says mobility has hugely changed the broader customer experience lifecycle.

“We have seen some interesting efficiency lifts behind the scenes,” he says. “At Rydges Sydney Airport we can clean rooms immediately as people check out by giving housekeeping staff mobile apps that update in real time.”

AHL uses mobile apps mainly for marketing and customer service. Staff use Apple iOS devices to enable mobile selling of movie tickets and snacks inside and around cinemas and, in some cases, mobile check-in for hotel guests at airline gates. The company offers customers mobile apps for a range of services, from tracking the vertical metres people have skied at a ski resort to movie screening times.

“I actually don’t like the idea of calling it a ‘mobility program’ – it’s a poor way to engage key stakeholders,” Bourke says. “Call it something that matters to the business, and its customers. Have a ‘let the customers serve themselves’ program, or ‘lift TripAdvisor ratings to top 10 per cent in each market’ program.”

Bourke also recommends focusing on the core business and reimagining what “could be” for the customer experience to win market share, then improving efficiencies to cut costs or lift productivity.

“Don’t say ‘righto here is an iPhone – what do we do with it?’,” Bourke says. “Ask how to ideally improve business metrics and see if mobile solutions might support this. How can we bust cinema ticketing queues on big movie days to increase customer satisfaction and keep a lid on staffing costs? Let the customers buy their tickets on a mobile phone.”

Unite the experts

It is also worthwhile bringing customer service and business process experts together in the same room as the technology people.

“Both are unconsciously incompetent in the other’s field of expertise, but spending time together will lift them through to conscious incompetence, then in to conscious competence as they educate each other,” Bourke says.

One business that has transformed its operations with mobility is KinCare, a provider of in-home care for the elderly and people with a disability.

A merger effectively doubled the company’s size and mobile connections were needed for more than 2000 field staff nationally who provide domestic services, personal care and nursing services.

In an interview with Telstra, KinCare CIO Jerome Barrientos says field staff can now capture information from clients at their home and provide this to head office. “Processing that used to take two weeks can now be done within 30 seconds,” Barrientos says.

Working with Telstra, KinCare created a smart-device app linking field staff to its cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) system. The app enables field staff to access and update client records, confirm client needs, coordinate meetings and book appointments. Less time is spent travelling back to the office and faster response time means staff can spend more time with those who need care.

KinCare’s CRM is now mobile and operates nationally, streamlining business processes and service delivery.

It’s only the beginning

“We’re just scratching the surface” of what is possible with mobility, says Chambers, who is still seeing mobile apps in the early adoption phase.

Challenges for businesses looking to go mobile largely rest with legacy systems that tend to be difficult to present on a mobile interface. It is the younger and smaller businesses that are more nimble in going mobile and digital first.

“Business has an amazing opportunity to use the mobile form factor, utility and location to deeply engage with customers,” Chambers says. “We need to start by thinking of our how the customers really use the technology, what comes naturally to them, then develop new services from there.”

Idea in brief
  • There will always be room for business to make greater use of mobile technology to improve service delivery and drive innovation
  • Start by putting the customer at the centre
  • Focus on your core business and imagine what “could be” to improve the customer experience, then see if mobile solutions might support this
  • Experiment by uniting customer service and business process experts with technology people – the results can be surprising
  • Great possibilities are emerging for changing people’s lives through health-monitoring wearable devices, machine learning and analytics.

Discover the amazing ways mobile technology will impact your industry.

Find out more

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