Wireless Projects – How to Obtain a Return on Investment Now
Wireless Projects – How to Obtain a Return on Investment Now
By: Adel Al-Saleh
Oct. 28, 2003 01:45 PM
With investment budgets under intense pressure, the focus is firmly on productivity improvements to gain rapid return on investment (ROI). In addition, competitive pressures are making customer service and customer retention priorities. To address these requirements, organizations are turning to wireless solutions to harness existing IT investments and deliver improved efficiency, reduced inventory, improved productivity, and maximum profitability, within short time frames.
Two key technologies – pervasive devices and mobile digital services – now provide significant potential for tangible business benefits. IBM, for example, saves $200 million annually in reduced real estate costs alone due to mobile working. But to maximize wireless ROI successfully, you need to be aware of the other parts of the solution: the infrastructure to provide a secure, robust, and available service to manage the high volume of data and transactions carried over these networks; an understanding of the organizational impact that can result; and the integration of the technology, people, and processes.
Another key aspect to remember is that mobile digital services are everywhere: the wide area network provided over GSM, GPRS, and UMTS by the mobile operators; the local area network for wirelessly connecting to the Internet and your office systems while in the office or in public access areas such as airports and hotels; and the personal area network that allows devices to talk to one another wirelessly when they are in the same proximity.
This article will outline the role wireless technology can play in increasing revenue and controlling costs, and point out the key factors for achieving success. We will address key business areas for wireless deployment and provide a guide to achieving ROI.
Understanding the Wireless Potential
In a tough economic climate, focusing on cost control becomes a key objective. The broad range of wireless technology available today can underpin a wide array of cost-control options.
On the other side of the economic
are maximizing profitability,
and wireless solutions are playing
an important role in:
Many wireless solutions will
deliver a combination of cost-control
and revenue-increase benefits.
Areas of benefit include improved:
Here's how wireless technology can support core objectives and deliver significant business benefits.
Business Areas Delivering ROI
Savings can be achieved by implementing
wireless for field-based employees in
There are several distinct business areas
that can deliver ROI from wireless deployment:
Philip Morris Singapore Pte Ltd, the Singapore arm of Philip Morris, the largest consumer packaged goods company, wanted an IT solution that would offer its sales force realtime access to their main office database. The implementation of a wireless solution has led to sales reps having accurate product and inventory data available at their fingertips, which has translated into better and more timely information being passed on to customers.
Remote synchronization allows diaries and contact databases to be updated, delivering a significant travel-time saving, enabling staff to utilize "dead time." This is estimated to represent a 30% gain in salesstaff efficiency.
Real-time information lets sales staff review credit status, status of last order, issues, etc., prior to visiting, and answer customer questions on pricing, inventory, and delivery times immediately. One study showed a 9% increase in sales conversions.
Real-time direct access to corporate systems eliminates back-office input of sales information, while integration with billing systems increases speed and accuracy of invoice generation, reducing bad debts. The estimated 70% saving in input time enables administrative staff to focus on more profitable or productive business activity.
Wireless solutions can directly reduce costs by reducing remote access and cellphone charges and by replacing existing paging services. Indirect cost reduction is achieved by increasing productivity, improving customer responsiveness, enhancing customer satisfaction, and improving employees' "work/life balance."
Chase-Pitkin Home and Garden, USA, within the first six months of installing its wireless solution, recorded significant increases in the average number of sales calls per day and sales per salesperson.
Dynamic scheduling enables organizations to optimize task allocation, rescheduling routes in real time to meet customer demands, while in-field data capture significantly improves the quality of information fed back into billing and customer service systems.
Access to parts information and best practices, along with remote diagnostics to resolve minor faults, reduces completion time and the number of visits per problem.
Source: Global Work/Life Survey 2001
"IBM is at the cutting-edge of reinventing how, where, and when employees work. In effect, we are shaping the workforce and workplace of the future for employees. The right outcome of this effort is the effective management of IBM resources, facilitating the best possible manager – employee relationships, and providing value to our customers and shareholders." – Ted Childs, vice president, Global Workforce Diversity, IBM
Wireless provides a huge opportunity to facilitate new working practices and improve morale. Flexible working practices are proven to increase productivity and reduce absenteeism. Additionally, companies report increased loyalty and a reduction in staff turnover, as well as an ability to attract new, skilled personnel.
While the benefits of improved customer services are intangible to an organization, any developments that increase customer retention are extremely valuable given the significant cost of attracting new customers.
Real-time information access provides customers with the ability to make immediate decisions about the cost and availability of goods or services. Enhanced customer information via wireless devices reduces the cost of a customer-service infrastructure, focusing staff on more productive/profitable initiatives.
Keys to Success
Within each, understanding and resolving the impacts on process, organization, and technology is imperative. It is important to work with an organization that not only has wide experience with diverse wireless devices and networks, but also understands business processes and how to integrate new technologies into existing infrastructure.
Obviously, costs are dependent on the organization's business goals and adoption of wireless solutions. However, irrespective of industry sector, successful organizations will want to measure the ROI of wireless implementation. While financial measures can be quantified, it is also important to assess other benefits to the organization.
So the question is not "whether you should deploy a wireless solution," but "when?" It is also worth considering what the impact on your business or organization would be if you do nothing. Just how much business would you lose to your competitors who are exploiting this new channel, accessing vast numbers of wireless devices – not just with human interaction, but also from machine to machine. How much benefit are they getting and are you missing?
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