Monday, February 4, 2013

B2B Mobile Applications


Business to business (B2B) mobile applications, like all enterprise mobility apps, are becoming more prevalent throughout industry. These applications continue to be explored as an improvement to paper based interactions and are often looked at to replace or augment EDI type interfaces between organisations.

Use Cases
  • Pharmaceutical industry providing solutions to pharmacies to manage inventory and reordering.
  • Third party logistics (3PL) providing solutions for inventory management and proof of delivery.
  • Wholesale manufacturers providing mobile product catalogue applications to retail buyers.
  • Marketing companies providing mobile survey applications.
  • Utilities providing service and/or data collection mobile applications to subcontractors.
  • Mobile applications developed for conferences and trade fairs.
  • Real estate industry providing mobile application for outsourced valuations and inspections.

I've just scratched the surface and as you can see this is a broad brush of different types of mobile solutions. Some would work best with dedicated hardware & native/hybrid solutions and some may be better suited to a web-HTML5 style application.

From the simplest solution where data is collected and imported via a report or spread sheet through to fully integrated solutions used by many parties. These applications offer some great rewards for businesses and for IT departments. However they are not without their challenges. I've listed a few experiences of the challenges and rewards below:

Challenges
  • Licensing (named users, volume of transactions)
  • Scheduling of work in subcontracting scenarios
  • Integration to back end systems
  • Application updates and changes
  • Security
  • Change Management and training

Benefits
  • Lock in a customer to your products/solution
  • Reduce effort related to paperwork
  • React more quickly
  • Reduce IT complexity
  • Enforce your process
  • Have an edge over you competitors

I'd be interested to hear of more use cases, challenges, and benefits so please contact me to discuss :)