Interactive Session: Organizations: Running the Business from the Palm of Your Hand
Case Study Questions
1. What kinds of applications are described here? What business functions do they support? How do they improve operational efficiency and decision making?
Email, messaging, social networking, and sales force management are described in this case study. The applications support business functions including collaboration, location-based services, and communications with colleagues. These applications improve operational efficiency and decision making by allowing people to communicate from wherever they are. They are no longer tethered to one place or one machine. They can receive information and data instantaneously which allows them to make better, faster decisions. In the case of Doylestown Hospital, doctors use iPhone applications to access medical reference applications, giving them a broader base of information on which to base decisions.
2. Identify the problems that businesses in this case study solved by using mobile digital devices.
TCHO Chocolate solved some of its operational and production problems by using iPhone apps to remotely log into each chocolate-making machine, control time and temperature, turn the machines on and off, and receive alerts about when to make temperature changes. The company owner remotely views several video cameras that show how the TCHO Flavor Lab is doing. Company employees exchange photos, email, and text messages via iPhone apps.
GE’s employees use iPhone and iPad apps that help them find patterns and trends in large volumes of data that may help alert them to problems before they become serious enough to affect customers or suppliers. Monitoring apps let managers zoom in from a global map to a specific transformer and read key performance indicators at any time.
Dow Corning managers analyze real-time data from core corporate systems including sales figures, trends, and projections, using mobile handheld devices. “In 15 seconds I can get a sense of whether there’s a financial performance issue I need to get involved with,” said Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Don Sheets.
Sunbelt Rentals combined multiple systems and databases into a single package for its sales teams. Rather than accessing several different computer systems for information, sales agents receive combined information from corporate point-of-sale systems, inventory control and management systems, and enterprise systems, for a truly integrated view of business functions.
SAP’s Business One mobile application sends alerts on specific events to sales managers, giving them real-time information about deviations from approved discounts, inventory availability, and in-stock products.
3. What kinds of businesses are most likely to benefit from equipping their employees with mobile digital devices such as iPhones, iPads, and BlackBerrys?
Any business with a need to communication with customers, suppliers, and business colleagues can benefit from equipping employees with mobile digital devices.
Student answers will vary as they relate their own experiences and knowledge of using mobile digital devices. Try to encourage the students’ creativity and imagination with this question. Here are a couple examples:
Insurance companies: claims adjusters or agents writing new policies or updating old ones, can take pictures of property as-is or that’s been damaged, update data on the condition of a property, and document property damage for claims processing.
Real estate agents: can take pictures of homes for sale and send to prospective buyers, send information to other agents or prospective buyers and sellers, answer questions, and complete documents related to buying and selling property.
Winemakers: can receive up-to-date weather forecasts, track crop information via GPS coordinates, store and access data on...