Mobile applications in the industrial sector
For years, mobile apps have positioned themselves as a tool that promotes productivity in the business environment. Although the advantages of mobile devices are numerous and varied, there are three that stand out especially and it is necessary to know them in order to exploit them.
- Market penetration, mobile technology is the one that has experienced the greatest and fastest penetration in society. In 2020 it was estimated that 45.4% of the world population had at least one terminal.
- Versatility, thanks to the evolution of Smartphones, they have ceased to be a device whose use was limited to oral communication to become a tool that allows us to perform actions as different as making calls, consulting our bank accounts or connecting to a CRM, all with a single device. Each new generation of Smartphone includes new technology that expands the range of possibilities with which to work.
- Ubiquity, Smartphones allow us to make our actions independent of the moment and place where we are.
Certainly, the industrial sector knows these advantages, values them and in many cases, they have been developing and evolving specific mobile apps for their casuistry for years. However, before putting these apps into production in industrial environments, it has been necessary to analyze the barriers to entry typical of the sector and offer solutions:
- Weak coverage, in many factories it is impossible to have a connection throughout the premises. This limitation is critical, let's not forget that our general objective is to offer productivity tools to our colleagues. If the app needs a constant internet connection to perform certain actions, we will be limiting and, in some cases, blocking its work. To solve this situation, we must develop mobile apps that work in offline mode implementing smart synchronization policies. In this way, we will avoid that the field work through the app depends on whether there is coverage or not, in addition, we will guarantee that no data is lost.
- Battery consumption, historically the weak point of mobile phones has been battery consumption. As in the previous case, before implementing the solution we must analyze the end user's use case, device usage time, access to terminal resources and develop solutions that guarantee that the terminal will be available throughout the working day. For this, among other policies, we must optimize the connections with the server, the downloading of data and access to the resources of the device.
- App design, we are currently aware of the importance of a good design and definition of usability (UI / UX) in apps, it is so important to develop a functionality as usable in a robust way, its robustness will be useless if the end user does not know how to use it. In the industrial environment, usability is even more important if possible, we must know who our end user will be and under what conditions they will use our app. It is good practice, usually, to choose a very intuitive and not disruptive iconography with the situation prior to the introduction of the mobile app, as well as large sizes that facilitate interaction without having to "guess" which pixel the user should click on.
That is, to have a greater guarantee of success in the development and subsequent step to production of mobile apps in industrial environments, in addition to know the purpose of using the app and its business value, we must know our end users, their cases of use and particular conditions in order to develop mobile apps that are truly productive tools and that improve their efficiency without conditions or limitations.
Mobile applications are an excellent work tool that allows us to collect information at the time and place where the data is being produced, adapting to the needs of the environment and end users. Thanks to the ubiquity feature, we minimize the loss of information and transcription errors, as well as the times historically dedicated to digitizing the information, since it is digital from its origin. Counting on digital information of our business, the possibilities are endless, we can interconnect it with other systems, and what is more important, analyze it, "what can be measured, can be improved" fundamental pillar of any industry, the continuous improvement.