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Mobile ROI: Myths and Reality

Can you put a definitive dollar sign on the value of mobility? Well, coming up with a precise number might be tough. But you can start by accounting for all the expenses the solution might involve, estimating how your bottom line will benefit, and then comparing the two numbers and see how far ahead you are.

It sounds simpler than it is. Providing mobility for workers often results in expediting customer responsiveness and speeding up processes, which delivers some cost reduction. The absolute payoff, however, can be incalculable because some rewards – like improved customer satisfaction – are “soft” and difficult to calculate.

 If mobility accelerates your response times from hours to seconds, how does that translate in your ROI formula? It probably depends on your business. In patient care and public safety, the benefits are often saving lives and improving health. These are easy to justify but difficult to quantify. In other businesses, like retail or transportation, time is often money and the calculations are easier. If you can sell X more widgets per minute because you can complete the sale right where the shopper is standing using Wi-Fi location detection and analytics, you can easily calculate the ROI.

 For some, mobility means always knowing what’s going on in the field. In logistics businesses, it pays dividends to instantly know where the fleet is located, and which driver is closest to an unexpected issue that needs resolving. With real-time data – such as mobile video – a construction manager might see that a particular job site is running low on supplies and act fast to replenish them. If that means his job comes in on time or ahead of schedule, he could drive repeat business or new business from customer referrals.

Then there’s letting employees define work on their own terms by freeing them up to work from just about anywhere. This usually results in happier employees who are often more productive. That can translate financially in a few ways. Business continuity when employees can’t make it into the office is one. There’s also likely to be less employee churn and lower costs associated with onboarding and training new employees. And how do you measure the ROI of increased employee productivity? Rhaetian Railways in the Alps is an example of a company that has experienced these benefits as a result of their mobility initiatives, allowing 1400 workers to work in the field and resolve issues in times of challenging weather.

Calculating the ROI for mobility is part math, part imaginative thinking. Start with what you know; determine how operational efficiencies translate into monetary return. Calculate your mobility expenses enterprise-wide. If you come out ahead, it makes sense to move forward, even before accounting for all the qualitative soft rewards. But those soft benefits – limited only by your resourcefulness in applying mobility to your business in new ways – will represent a thick layer of icing on your mobility cake.

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