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Stop Selling Mobile and Wireless Technology…

Stop Selling Mobile and Wireless Technology…

There is simply no such thing, says Russell Glass, as a "mobile and wireless problem." There are only business problems - to which wireless apps may indeed be a powerful and effective solution.

If yet another sales rep walks into your office and says, "I have the answer to your mobile and wireless problem," you should take three courses of action. First, aim squarely and throw the massive stack of wireless marketing materials that have been accumulating on your desk. Then, pitch a heavy book or stapler to really emphasize the point. Finally, swiftly kick the salesperson out of your office.

The simple fact is that you don't have a mobile and wireless problem. You never have and you never will. The wireless software space, however, is riddled with vendors and their sales reps trying to convince businesses that this is their primary problem and that their competition will destroy them if they don't act quickly.

Nonsense. The competition doesn't have a mobile wireless problem either, and spending money trying to solve it is - quite simply - money wasted.

What these businesses do have, like every business, are real business problems that can be solved through some of the benefits that mobile and wireless technologies can deliver.

How to Save $3.6 Million a Year
For example, I recently spent time with an executive who has an interesting and expensive distribution problem. He is trying to manage the delivery of food to thousands of restaurants per day. Every day, a number of customers are past due on their accounts, forcing food shipments to be held so his company does not risk further losses from delinquent payments. Withholding shipments as a form of protection for the distributor, however, often causes loss in other ways. As an example, food shipments that are withheld on the docks too long will spoil, forcing the distributor to incur considerable additional costs.

The current solution to this problem involves a chain of events that begin with a notification to an accounts-receivable representative. The accounting software alerts the representative that there is a delinquency and a subsequent shipment hold. The notification is passed to a call center that identifies and contacts the field-sales representative who owns the account. The sales representative contacts the account to rectify the situation by requesting a purchase-order number to release the goods for shipment. Upon receipt of the purchase-order number, the sales representative sends the number to the call center. The call center relays the purchase-order number to the accounts-receivable department, and the shipment is released. This extensive information-exchange process of phone calls, messages, returned calls, and research generally entails four to 16 hours of work, costing an average of $7.3 million per year.

Note that this company does not have a mobile and wireless problem - it has a problem that can be solved by an application incorporating mobile and wireless technologies. This is the critical distinction that wireless vendors do not recognize, and this lack of recognition will kill them. Look no further than the advertisements in many business and technical magazines to see that by and large, these vendors do not know how to solve business pain. Instead they push technology attributes such as "always on," "XML-based," and "JMS messaging" that are irrelevant to most software purchasers and users. Consider, for instance, whether users really care about the type of hard drive in their PCs, or care only that the hard drive actually stores what they request.

Vendors Are Solving "Problems" That Don't Exist
This technology-centric approach has caused confusion about the necessity and value of mobile and wireless technologies. As a result, business decision makers have become exceptionally wary of adopting these technologies to solve their real business pains. More significant, the mounting confusion has created a misperception that mobile and wireless technologies are not feasible. This inaccurate notion has largely been spread by businesses with little understanding of how wireless technologies can be effectively used. How could they understand? These companies have been pitched again and again by vendors trying to solve a mobile and wireless problem that they do not have.

The example cited above is a typical and painful business problem solved by strong software that leverages the benefits of mobile and wireless technologies. The solution requires a thorough and detailed understanding of enterprise systems, wireless networks, and mobile devices - but it's simply installed and used.

Remove Latency from Business Processes
In the food distributor scenario, with the engagement of extended technologies, the notification received by accounts payable includes comprehensive contact and payment information for the account in question. The notification is directed to the sales representative's preferred device. If no immediate response is received, a voice application delivers the information to the representative's PC, cell phone, or office phone as required. If the representative is unreachable, the voice application escalates the information to the rep's supervisor. The escalation process continues until a response is received. The notification includes a one-touch option to call the account as well as a purchase-order form to capture all necessary information. After the P.O. number is entered, the representative hits "submit." This command updates the accounts-receivable system immediately so the shipment may be released. The initial latency is almost entirely removed from the process, saving between three and 12 hours per shipment and over $3.6 million per year.

The time and money saved in this scenario are typical for processes improved by these applications. Examples such as this exist in every enterprise around the world.

Deploying business applications to remove latencies from business processes generates far-reaching value across an organization. The worth of these benefits will ensure the success and longevity of the wireless software industry.

However, until vendors stop selling mobile and wireless technology and start selling business benefits, slow adoption, confused buyers, dying vendors, and projectile staplers will continue to be hallmarks of this industry.

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