Recently, I walked into a family owned coffee shop and ordered my latte. It was a very pleasant experience, but it was also atypical—the sweet lady took my order on an iPad and asked if she could enter in my e-mail address so they could send me a survey link and periodic e-mails. As a technology user and evangelist, I agreed without any hesitation.
Intrigued by this experience, I wondered why this small coffee shop was adopting a mobile-based system for its business. After speaking with the owner and learning more about the application, I realized that their main goals in adopting this technology were to:
- Establish a reliable and easy ordering system
- Track and analyze customer behavior
- Streamline financial processes like payments, splitting checks, and tips
They had also implemented a simple architecture that allowed the management to connect this iPad app to their server where they were storing all this critical information. And for me, as a customer, I absolutely loved the experience. It in no way reduced my café experience, I got my check emailed to me, and I even learned something new about the restaurant business.
Similar to this coffee shop, finance organizations are discussing and analyzing how much mobility technology they will be adopting. It’s already a given in today’s environment that employees are accessing corporate e-mail and calendars on a smart phone or tablet. But employees are now eager to start seeing additional value and usage from their smart phones.
Where Will Mobility Add Value?
The point in question isn’t how to mobilize your finance organization, but where will mobility add value to and increase productivity for your finance function. In order to make this decision, executives should ask three key questions. The answers to these questions will help decide the road to mobility as well as the time frame that finance organizations adopt.
- Do I have the technology and information to make real-time decisions? As executives and business leaders participate in meetings, it’s extremely beneficial to have reports and information on key metrics available at their fingertips. Mobile business apps related to performance measurement and monitoring with real-time information can help meet this challenge.
- How can I increase the productivity of my finance organization and overall employee productivity? As the number of mobile workers increase in an organization, mobile apps like travel approval, expense approval, and payment approval can release employee productivity. To take this example further, if a travelling employee can submit expense reports in less time, it significantly improves the metrics of the finance organization and gives department managers a more realistic view of their employees’ expenditures.
- What type of enterprise information and reporting can I disseminate to the business users? Our enterprise systems today have such valuable information and analysis stored. It would be a shame if this relevant information wasn’t available when it’s most needed. Let’s take the case of a sales person talking to a customer. He’s not in his office, so he can’t access the CRM system. Wouldn’t he like to have all the information about this customer on his tablet? He’d then know relevant details like the past history of the customer, what other opportunities are in the pipeline, payment terms, products and services owned, etc.
Innovating and growing are core elements for any business function. Finance organizations need to start analyzing their challenges and deciding where mobility can add value and increase the overall efficiency and growth of the organization.
How far has your company come in adopting mobile technology? What have been your greatest challenges and benefits?