These systems have typically been provided through a desktop or laptop interface. However, the current overwhelming trend in enterprise technology is the move to mobile. The wholesale use of Blackberries in the early years of the 21st century, and more recently the advent of iPhones, iPads, and other tablet computing devices has taken enterprise computing to a new level, and created new ways of increasing productivity.
As a result, the workforce as a whole is becoming increasingly mobile. In a survey conducted for IBM, 75 percent of executives stated that the deployment of mobile devices is critical to the long-term successes of their companies. The Fortune 500 has already embraced modern mobility: iPhones are already being deployed or tested by 80 percent of the world’s biggest companies, and iPads are being deployed or tested by 65 percent. Research from Forrester shows that 75 percent of companies report increased worker productivity from deploying mobile applications.
The power and prevalence of today’s mobile devices is transforming the shape of the modern enterprise. Mobile applications empower executives to make informed, rapid decisions by giving them the data and analysis they need, when and where they need it. Industry experts believe that in four years approximately 50 percent of the devices connected to corporate networks will be mobile.
In the agricultural sector, evidence suggests that the use of mobile phones by farmers and aggregators upstream has had a measurable and positive impact on the efficiency of the supply chain, particularly in developing nations. The improved flow of information between geographically dispersed stakeholders and often isolated producers has helped improve crop yields, co-ordinate logistic operations, and reduce prices.
The power of mobile also extends to downstream operations, where executing commodity trades quickly and efficiently based on real-time pricing data is vital for optimizing profits in a volatile market. By breaking the link between function and location, mobile applications can help ensure that deals are rapidly and accurately captured in enterprise systems, enabling companies to understand their true position and arrange appropriate hedges to mitigate market risk.
In particular, mobile applications are particularly well suited to the following areas of the energy business:
- Reducing market risk by enabling hedging strategies to be rapidly executed against trades captured in the field, and tracking the effectiveness of any risk mitigation or hedging strategy.
- Optimizing trading by allowing transactions to be completed from anywhere in response to changing market conditions, and by viewing real-time pricing and capture deals in the field.
- Ensuring field-based originators are working with the most up-to-date commodity pricing.
- Improving efficiency by viewing the delivery point closest to a supplier’s location while onsite.
When looking for suitable mobile applications, there are a number of points to consider. The most valuable tools are not simply lighter versions of full desktop applications - they are developed precisely for the device concerned. Entire desktop solutions that have been ported on to a mobile platform are also sub-optimal: the ideal solution will include only those tasks that are suitable to the mobile environment, and will have been developed to offer seamless performance of the key functions that are most appropriate and/or necessary for the designated users. When it comes to agriculture, this will include making sure that an offline mode is available to capture transactions in areas without Internet access and transmit them automatically when a connection becomes available.
The most important point is that mobile applications are a complement to desktop solutions, not a replacement for them. One company that has embraced this philosophy is Triple Point Technology. In addition to its Mobile Commodity Trader, the company has already launched the following mobile applications:
Mobile Management Dashboard – Provides Commodity XL customers with real-time, pinpoint analysis of Key Performance Indicators across the supply chain for superior