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How will the mobility of the workforce impact business processes?

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How will the mobility of the workforce impact business processes?

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  • Just for starters, if process can't be communicated and governed in an app that works on a smartphone or tablet, the game is over for going mobile. That narrows the field of contenders right away.

    There are so many different ways that process takes shape in an untethered world. It doesn't have to be in monolithic diagrams or workflows and needs to be in digestible pieces that work on any form factor.

  • Dunno, not sure, but I'll tell you this - it'll boil down to screen real estate, not connectivity, when all is said and done. That is, in terms of "impact."

    Just my tuppence.

  • I always like to say 'work is a verb, not a place' but then I meet a friend of mine who spends 8 hours a day in a factory, so of course that statement is not always true.

    So the first thing to be aware of that a 'general business process' doesn't exist and that mobile will not have impact on every process.

    The process is 'the thing' that has to deliver what you promise and its performance is dependent on many aspects like workflow (tayloristic or more pucheristic ;-), needed information, capable people, supporting systems, steering method, process rules etc.

    So in some processes mobile will not have that much impact because they are stuck to a place. In 'information processes' the availability of (hopefully useful) information anytime anywhere will sure have impact on how processes are executed.

    But it is always a combination between aspects mentioned above. For example here in Holland, visiting nurses all got handhelds to register what they did and how long that took at patients. For some, used to smart phones, it worked well.
    Others still drive to the office to fill in the paper form.

    So, mobile is not a goal I think. It's a means that can be beneficial for process execution and management.

  • Mobility shouldn't affect processes much because the fundamental steps in those processes aren't (or shouldn't be) dependent upon where a particular person is. But it will (and already does) have a significant effect on the tools used to facilitate those processes -- and as Patrick has pointed out, screen real estate is one of the biggest considerations. Others include bandwidth, authentication and security, offline participation, and synchronization, to name just a few.

  • It is a great question and one that we are already seeing some evidence of change. Mobility is a paradigm challenge. The mobile workforce is forcing business process to change. How are decisions made ? Steps being added or removed ? Maybe not at the atomic level so much but certainly above that. Real time communications, collaboration and decisioning, are forcing processes to change. Businesses will have to change their thinking and shatter some conventional wisdom of how work is done.

    Take a simple example in the consumer world of check deposits. Who would have ever thought banks would forge into the world of a mobile phone taking a picture of a check and thru the cell channel, accept a deposit ? That alone shattered the business process of bank deposits. In this example, the teller platform is not used, the ATM platform is not used, banks shifted how they process the deposit. One of the most conservative industries has gone liberal. No paper like the old days just an image, wow. This changes security and trust in the process. A traveling consultant can now do banking on the fly without going to the bank.

    For workforce mobility, we are already seeing how social media platforms change the process of ideation, decision making and being informative of the process. IM moving the communication and collaboration to a distributed mechanism. Data, decision making pushed to the mobile platform…. How quickly can one bring up a spreadsheet on iphone ? How quickly can you draw up a mindmap/flowchart and share it with folks on the iPad ? How about field service engineer working on a power line having the ability to see the grid, given authority to turn power off and have automatic notification all with a mobile device in hand? Screen real estate, an issue ? maybe but I see that people are getting more definitive in action steps and forcing a simplification at point of 'action' while having access to all sorts of data and info as needed. Doctors on call are looking at brain scans on their iphones and being able to make immediate decisions. Scans used to be mega large but that has changed to minimize bandwidth and speed. Do you need a large monitor to view the scan to make some basic decisions? In fact one can zoom in on the image on the iphone.

    Business process is changing with the ever increasing mobile workforce and growing population of millennials.

  • Ok a lot of what needs to be said has already been covered, but....

    Mobile workforces already exist however, they're nothing new. Gas engineers, tradesmen and such, they receive work instruction, act, update and close off the process already using a variety of devices. What's changing is the interface design around those processes and how the updates are handled. Speed of update and UX is changing rapidly as the form factor becomes more mature. Remember Nimbus Control on the iPhone ? Sorry Chris, it was nice to get something out quickly but like it's already been said, screen real-estate and usability is key so it took the iPad to really bring this mobile BPM 'stuff' to life.

    Now we have more complex interactions for processes such as insurance claims investigations in real-time within a mobile framework. Before it was assess, take a few photos, go back to the office or sit in the car with the laptop, write up a report, attach the photo, get back to the office, upload the file, complete the work, send off the request.
    Now it's all done on one device, at the time of the assessment and in more cases than not, uploaded and updated so an answer can be given to the client there and then.

    The fundamental process hasn't changed, the way the process takes place for the user has though. That's the real impact.

    The trick is to recognise that not all processes will lend themselves to this kind of interaction and the ones that do need to be carefully designed so the user experience is not the same as for one sitting at a tethered desk.

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