GE Digital: why mobile apps matter in a digital strategy
The role of mobile apps in a digital strategy: why do they matter?
With the latest acceleration in digital technology adoption – driven by the impact of COVID-19 – the fundamental ways in which both customers and businesses interact with each other have significantly changed. A simple smartphone can act as not only a phone but a camera, entertainment, wallet, health monitor, social enhancer and shop.
When looking to implement a successful mobile app strategy, it is important for organisations to understand that a company’s mobile app strategy is not a separate entity, a business’s “mobile app strategies can play a critical role in a company’s overall digital strategy,” comments Matthew Wells, Vice President, Digital Product Management at GE Digital.
“Mobility enables information sharing across multiple locations in minutes, not days and weeks, while simultaneously reducing costs through optimisation. It can also reduce operational challenges by eliminating administration of some manual processes, enabling a smoother and faster path to efficiency.”
For organisations looking to incorporate a mobile app strategy into its digital strategy Wells explains that, “as with any change, the challenges are training, partnerships with knowledgeable vendors that can assist with implementation, and identifying champions within the organisation to make sure the strategy is implemented completely and effectively.”
However, organisations that can address these challenges, those in the industrial companies for example, stand to benefit from the ability to “extend operations to the field, enabling flexibility and increasing productivity and efficiency, as well as ensure worker safety and operations continuity with secure controls. In addition, they can facilitate worker location flexibility, support external monitoring and contingency operations, and depending on their industry, weather-proof operations.”
While “a mobile solution provides industrial companies with the ability to support remote and mobile worker access to plant monitoring and control systems as well as the long-term flexibility and cost reduction benefits,” reflects Wells, in order to experience such benefits “they should, identify and take multiple key considerations into account when implementing a mobile strategy: Security, compliance and reliability, access to controls and monitoring of user access, interactive permissioning, user capabilities, safety, and equipment compatibility.”
Getting the most value out of a mobile app strategy
When it comes to the best strategy and approach for digital mobile apps, Wells identifies that it depends on the maturity of an organisation. “For those organisations new to mobile apps, the best approach is to focus on reducing downtime by enabling the process and technical experts with data on mobile devices so they can effectively field questions from the workforce. More mature organisations should focus on leaning out their processes by eliminating fixed screens on the shop floor and enabling their workers to make control decisions anywhere.”
Core aspects of a successful mobile app strategy include “focusing on optimising specific metrics like process downtime, as well as having a good UX to reduce the training requirements.” It is also important to “keep pace with regulatory requirements, increase capacity, and improve reliability when implementing an effective mobile strategy, and maintaining high levels of security and customer service, which can all have an impact on bottom line and operations continuity,” comments Wells.
Ultimately to get the most value out of a mobile app strategy, Wells concludes that “transformation of any sort requires a clear understanding of your current limitations, a vision of what the future organisation looks like, executive buy-in, financial support, new organisation models, and an understanding of the outcomes you want to achieve by implementing this strategy. Planning, organisation, training, and prioritisation are key to getting the most out of a digital mobile strategy.”
SAS: Improving the British Army’s decision making with data
SAS’ long-standing relationship with the British Army is built on mutual respect and grounded by a reciprocal understanding of each others’ capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Roderick Crawford, VP and Country GM for SAS UKI, states that the company’s thorough grasp of the defence sector makes it an ideal partner for the Army as it undergoes its own digital transformation.
“Major General Jon Cole told us that he wanted to enable better, faster decision-making in order to improve operational efficiency,” he explains. Therefore, SAS’ task was to help the British Army realise the “significant potential” of data through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to automate tasks and conduct complex analysis.
In 2020, the Army invested in the SAS ‘Viya platform’ as an overture to embarking on its new digital roadmap. The goal was to deliver a new way of working that enabled agility, flexibility, faster deployment, and reduced risk and cost: “SAS put a commercial framework in place to free the Army of limits in terms of their access to our tech capabilities.”
Doing so was important not just in terms of facilitating faster innovation but also, in Crawford’s words, to “connect the unconnected.” This means structuring data in a simultaneously secure and accessible manner for all skill levels, from analysts to data engineers and military commanders. The result is that analytics and decision-making that drives innovation and increases collaboration.
Crawford also highlights the importance of the SAS platform’s open nature, “General Cole was very clear that the Army wanted a way to work with other data and analytics tools such as Python. We allow them to do that, but with improved governance and faster delivery capabilities.”
SAS realises that collaboration is at the heart of a strong partnership and has been closely developing a long-term roadmap with the Army. “Although we're separate organisations, we come together to work effectively as one,” says Crawford. “Companies usually find it very easy to partner with SAS because we're a very open, honest, and people-based business by nature.”
With digital technology itself changing with great regularity, it’s safe to imagine that SAS’ own relationship with the Army will become even closer and more diverse. As SAS assists it in enhancing its operational readiness and providing its commanders with a secure view of key data points, Crawford is certain that the company will have a continually valuable role to play.
“As warfare moves into what we might call ‘the grey-zone’, the need to understand, decide, and act on complex information streams and diverse sources has never been more important. AI, computer vision and natural language processing are technologies that we hope to exploit over the next three to five years in conjunction with the Army.”
Fundamentally, data analytics is a tool for gaining valuable insights and expediting the delivery of outcomes. The goal of the two parties’ partnership, concludes Crawford, will be to reach the point where both access to data and decision-making can be performed qualitatively and in real-time.
“SAS is absolutely delighted to have this relationship with the British Army, and across the MOD. It’s a great privilege to be part of the armed forces covenant.”