Mobile Devices – the Future of BPM?

Business trips such as delegations or conferences prove the usefulness of mobile devices that allow to remotely get some of daily duties done. However, those are more or less incidental cases. After all, an employee spends most of his time in office. But what if he or she does not? There are specific professions that require to be in a field most of the time. In this case mobile access to company’s BPM system is invaluable.


Mobile BPM in the Construction Industry

At this point you may want to get a closer look into the construction industry. For instance, people directly responsible for overseeing projects (e.g. construction engineers), often have to work in a field, and their task is to personally monitor as work progresses.
At the same time they need access to certain documents – plans, specifications etc.  What’s more, the characteristic of their profession requires to be on the move around the construction site. How in this case can they execute effective work management?

A laptop only seems like a good idea. It offers great performance but in the long run would not work. Firstly, batteries in today’s notebooks and netbooks can last for 2 to 6 hours. No doubt it’s too short for a standard 8-hour work day, not to mention longer shifts. Also, while working on a construction site, looking for an electric socket is a rather pointless idea and carrying back-up batteries doesn’t make sense. Moreover, in environments full of dust and other small contaminants, conventional portable computers have problems with heat dissipation– cooling systems tend to clog and cause severe damage.What else can be used? The answer is simple: tablets! Currently most of them have a display size of about 10 inches, weigh approximately 600 grams and offer good performance parameters that allow to present even more complex schemes. In comparison, average laptop weighs from 1,5 to 4 kilos (3,3 to 9 lbs) which makes carrying them around for 8 hours rather unhandy. It’s hard to imagine using them in a field with no external power supply, plus tablets beat them also in terms of time of performance: 10 hours is an average batteries’ lifespan. Additionally, when turned on, standby time is much shorter. Finally, it should be noted that tablets don’t have cooling systems. Therefore, their hardware can’t be damaged by dust and other contaminants.I know from experience that employees associated with the construction industry really appreciate tablets in their daily duties. They are simply more handy, universal and less burdensome. Whenever there’s a need to scan an invoice or check specification, it can be done by a tablet – quickly and swiftly. It’s worth mentioning that cameras and microphones in tablets are usually way better than those used in notebooks.

With all that being said – aforementioned construction engineer (or any other person that has to be in a field and take care of paperwork) could use a laptop, PC or even take care of all necessary paperwork at the office. But why waste time and effort, when much simpler solutions are right there? A  tablet with access to an efficient BPM system (e.g. one that supports iOS, Android and Windows Phone) allows to do 80% of work that would have to be done in office. Checking specifications, creating and attaching reports, making and sending scans and much more is possible. You just need to find the right software and right hardware to make your (or your employees’) life easier.


Mobile BPM and Mystery Shopping

What about other branches of economy? Mobile BPM can be also extremely useful in the retail sector, in particular during so-called ‘mystery shopping’. What is it exactly? A company hires mystery shoppers and their goal is to check the quality of service provided in company’s stores. This method is frequently used in the clothing industry but also in banks, malls, gyms and wherever customer service is crucial. A test is carried out with pre-established goals. Mystery shoppers can get into a role of ‘self-righteous expert on everything’ as well as into ‘lost and uncertain customer’.

So where is the place of remote BPM access from mobile devices in this case? After testing customer service, a mystery shopper has to answer a series of questions about quality of service. To maintain the objectivity and reliability, most of them can be answered only with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Smartphones and tablets with a mobile BPM application allow to do it immediately after leaving a store. In a traditional way, tester would have to fill in a paper form, go to a post office and send it. It takes more time and effort, and some details may be forgotten in the process.

But, that’s not all. Polls are just part of a test. “Material evidence” is equally important. Pictures, audio and video recordings have a great value during evaluation of a store. They prove mystery shopper’s judgement. And again – creating these materials is possible only by mobile devices and sending them via mobile BPM application makes the process way easier and faster. The mystery shopper can take a picture and immediately attach it to the documentation about tested facility. There are plenty of possibilities in this area.



Business Process Management run on mobile devices ensures a huge leap in terms of quality of work and also time saving. Under certain conditions, use of a tablet or smartphone proves to be an optimal solution which provides required performance and a user-friendly way to handle business matters. As shown in the examples above, sometimes notebooks/netbooks, not to mention PC or regular cell phones, cannot efficiently meet employees’ needs in a specific workplace. They are simply too unhandy, impractical or too problematic in everyday use.

Meanwhile, tablets and smartphones are smaller and provide sufficient performance. Along with an efficient BPM system that provides mobile access, they can be used as a primary tool at work. It’s worth noticing that already at this moment, smartphones with quad-core processor are nothing extraordinary (eg. Samsung Galaxy S III or HTC One X), and in accordance to the Moore’s Law, computing power of such devices will grow exponentially. It’s going to make them increasingly cheaper and more accessible, making them less and less behind PCs and notebooks in terms of efficiency. Therefore, due to the ease and speed of tablets and smartphones use, it can be expected in the near future they will become one of your daily tools, and mobile BPM goes along with this trend.


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By Michal Rykiert @ WEBCON | February 27, 2013

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