Productivity gains key for mobile in manufacturing sector

A survey commissioned by Motorola revealed that more than 70% of IT decision makers in the manufacturing sector are looking to mobile solutions to streamline operations, with companies that have deployed mobility applications saving an average of 42 minutes per employee, per day.

Some 80% of those polled said that mobility is more important for their organizations today than in 2008, up nine points from twelve months ago, with Motorola stating that enterprise mobility is growing in importance as companies look to boost operational efficiencies and increase productivity against a tough macro-economic climate.

Reflecting the continued focus on costs, total cost of ownership (TCO), return on investment (ROI) and initial rate of return (IRR) were named as the main tools used to justify an organisation's mobility investments. More than half of those surveyed said they expect returns on investment within 15 months, indicating that technologies are not being given long periods of time to prove themselves -- results need to be swift.

Mobility was not necessarily seen as providing a competitive advantage, however -- only 55% of respondents said this was the case, indicating that it is in improving business processes that mobility is proving its worth. And a significant minority (40%) of respondents said that their company did not have a clear set of guidelines to cover employees' use of mobile and wireless technologies.

Interestingly, the majority of respondents (78%) described themselves as "early adopters" or "conservatives", the middle categories, rather than the "innovators" or "laggards" which come at either end. This indicates not only a healthy pragmatism in the manufacturing companies surveyed, but also a belief that mobility is no longer the preserve of those on the cutting edge.

Many of the applications deployed by companies were either specific to the manufacturing vertical or highly relevant to corporate activities -- inventory/materials management and sales force applications ranked highly. Topping the lists of concerns were (unsurprisingly) security; cost of hardware; cost of software, integration, services and support; and difficulties integrating with existing solutions.

The survey also provided some interesting insight into the future technologies most of interest to corporates. Likely to become more popular are voice-over-WiFi and fixed mobile convergence solutions, as well as various asset management and asset maintenance offerings.

The Motorola Enterprise Mobility Manufacturing Barometer surveyed representatives of more than 3,400 manufacturing companies in 14 countries across four continents. Further details are available here.

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