Since the release of the iPad in April 2010, 67 million Apple tablets have been sold to date.
In addition to this, over 10 million non-Apple tablets such as Windows and Android as well as smartphones have made their way into consumers' hands.
People look to their mobile devices to inform, entertain, educate, discover, socialise, organise and much more. Mobile technologies are the social infrastructure of our era — so much so academics and social commentators are even voicing concerns about addiction.
"Fear of missing out" (FOMO) is one name for this addiction referring to the mere possibility a person may fall behind if they are not "online".
This idea of being constantly online is nothing new for the business environment. Employees have long enjoyed the pleasure of remote access, taking laptops home in the evenings and even checking emails on the weekends.
So, what is next?
According to Lou Washington of Cincom Systems, mobile will impact the enterprise in ways we can only imagine.
"Mobile is already in ERP," Washington said.
"Mobile smartphones are already connecting field sales to assorted back-office apps and people via email. Pads or tablets are also well established in field service to help with diagnostics, part inventory and even current schematics for complex in-service products."
Mobile is a natural for the field, but what about on the shop floor?
Ray Wang, principal analyst and CEO of Constellation Research, Inc. cites three specific areas where mobility delivers potential advantage:
Safety, quality or compliance
In some process based industries such as food or pharmaceuticals, traceability and in-process checking could be greatly enhanced with mobility.
No longer can people just scribble reference notes on envelopes as they move around their physical facility. Managers now often need access to vast amounts of data in order to get to the distilled information they require.
Approvals and routings
We have already seen the great benefit of barcode readers, and these apps are now being built into smartphones. Tablets also may well offer some advantages in this area too. This is just a taste of the potential efficiencies mobility could contribute to in the workplace.
More and more, workers are being asked to perform multiple duties that require multiple applications and wide-ranging data access.
We know mobility is here to stay, and with ERP, its uses will only grow as people imagine better ways to put mobility to use in their jobs. Mobility will maximise the effectiveness of the employee and consequently the entire manufacturing operation.
Further discussion on mobile computing in Australian businesses can be read in Cincom's recently released Australian Mobility Report: An in Depth Analysis of the Use of Mobile Computing in Australian Businesses,
To download a free copy, please click here.