Mobile technology trends in retail and manufacturing

by Simon Ellis

Mobile technologies are creating new collaboration opportunities and driving innovation across the entire retail and manufacturing supply chain. In addition to being a new means of data collection, mobile applications and smart devices extend core processes and functions and support new processes.

IDC’s Manufacturing Insights’ “Supply Chain Survey” found that retailers and manufacturers alike have identified the important role mobility plays in their industries. Manufacturers are using business phones to support many core fulfillment functions and help provide visibility into the movement of product through the supply chain. Retailers have focused on commerce and productivity-related applications. These applications are designed to improve customer service through customer-owned and in-store mobile devices, loyalty apps, and other in-store retail execution strategies.

In addition, manufacturing and retail companies have a growing numbers of employees who either work from home or from the road. Mobile tools enable access that they otherwise would not have. Some software suppliers are delivering mobility solutions for radio frequency (RF) devices within warehouse and add-on solutions that allow manufacturers to extend transportation and warehousing processes outside of the enterprise. These include such processes as reporting driver exceptions, tracking an in-transit shipments, and rescheduling dock doors.

IDC also identified new trends likely to enhance core retail and manufacturing processes in the coming year and beyond. As an example, more business applications are being developed and applied throughout the supply chain. The proliferation of smartphones and tablets add a dynamic aside beyond accessing data. These devices usually have cameras, video, and other enhanced technologies, making the business applications even more dynamic — and information more portable, streaming, and more easily shareable.

The recent IDC Market Spotlight, Optimizing Supplier-Retailer Collaboration with Emerging Mobile Technology explores the current and future trajectory of mobile applications in these closely related vertical segments. We would encourage you to read the full report.