Mobile apps bring benefits and problems for enterprises in Poland

Mobile business applications are gaining importance in Poland as broadband coverage expands and smartphone and tablet use increases

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Mobile applications are increasingly important for businesses in Poland, especially in sales, warehouse management and distribution. Companies are using mobile versions of traditional systems and are also developing their own mobile apps, leading to the creation of multiplatform IT architectures.

Poland's increasing use of business apps for mobile devices is caused by two factors. First is the systematic expansion of broadband coverage in the country, including wired and wireless data transfer. Second is a steady growth in the number of professionals who work using smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices.

“Mobile technologies are widely accepted in Poland, but mainly by consumers, who, equipped with such tools, have quick access to email. In contrast, Polish companies still use them only to a limited extent,” says Jerzy Kalinowski, head of the advisory group in new technology, telecommunications and media sectors at KPMG Poland and CEE.

In recent years, developers of business apps in Poland have begun to offer mobile apps, but have been slow to support clients in this field. Companies have been forced to develop apps in-house, thereby creating IT architectures that may require significant changes. 

Why? Because Poland has no efficient APIs and middleware that could integrate old and new systems, and mobile apps generally function in closed silos.

Workplace as a space for data and apps

Almost 63% of Poland's population have access to broadband internet, according to a report by the Broadband Commission for Digital Development at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the United Nations. More than 40% of the population – nearly 16 million people – surf the web on mobile devices, and at the beginning of this year, Poles' browsing time using smartphones and laptops averaged 1 hour 49 minutes a day.

During 2014, the share of Polish web traffic accessed by smartphones and tablets increased by 277%, compared with an average rise of 39% worldwide. At the same time, web traffic accessed by laptop and desktop computers fell by almost 40%, according to a January 2015 report by international agency We Are Social.

“Every month, the number of web hits from mobile devices grows,” says Michał Włodarczyk, head of the publishers and ad networks team at Gemius, which monitors internet activity. “In this field, Poland is in the middle of the range of European countries. In 2017, Poland will reach the level of Denmark, where network traffic from mobile devices is approaching 50%. Two years ago, as in Poland today, only 10% of Danish internet page views were on tablets and smartphones.”

In 2014, 44% of Poles owned smartphones and 60% used a smartphone or other portable computer every day, according to TNS Poland's report Mobile marketing in Poland 2013–2014. The document also shows that in 2014, 46% of Polish smartphone users accessed mobile apps. In 2015, this figure is expected to rise by 14%.

“Today, mobile devices are becoming legitimate tools in business,” says Maciej Flak, product sales specialist at Cisco Systems Poland. “At the same time, companies perceive that the traditional workplace is gradually ceasing to be a physical place and becoming rather a space of access to data, applications and communication tools, which helps firms to perform their daily work better.”

However, Polish companies rarely optimise old business processes by using mobile apps. More often, they create new processes – innovative ways of working and new ways of selling or offering products. For example, mobile devices have created new sales channels: today, before driving to a retail store, a customer can scroll through its products on their smartphone.

Apps for large sales structures

IDC predicts that in 2015 the number of mobile workers worldwide will reach 1.3 billion – 37.2% of the total workforce. The development of mobile apps is a response to this trend.

More and more employees no longer sit behind a desk, but move around their company, travel for business purposes or simply work outside the office, but they still want access to the data normally available to their desktop computers. How can that be done? For business app providers, it is feasible.

This industry constantly monitors the IT market for innovations and is willing to invest in new technologies that have the potential to improve the performance of mobile sales staff

Andreas Enders, Asseco Business Solutions

“Demand for mobile apps is created primarily by companies with extensive sales structures, primarily those in the FMCG and pharmaceutical sectors,” says Andreas Enders, board member responsible for international development at Asseco Business Solutions.

“In Poland and globally, the FMCG industry is among those market segments that embraced modern IT technologies such as mobile SFA [sales force automation] systems the best. More importantly, this industry constantly monitors the IT market for innovations and is willing to invest in new technologies that have the potential to improve the performance of mobile sales staff.”

Leaders in Poland's business apps market are SAP (39.6% share), Comarch (14%), Oracle (11.2%) and Asseco BS (5%), according to the IDC report Poland's Enterprise Application Software Market 2014-2018. These companies are sure to respond to the growing popularity of mobile computing.

“Mobile modules are attached to ERP applications,” says Ryszard Krawczyński, principal sales consultant, Oracle applications, at Oracle Poland. “Those that use them most frequently include company departments that deal with sales, distribution, warehouse management, analytics, business intelligence and document approval. 

“Companies are eager to implement mobility features for ERP systems, not only for convenience, but also because it does not require large expenditure. Implementation extends the functionality of mobile communication methods in the ERP system.”

Oracle recently introduced 14 mobile apps for the Oracle e-Business Suite. New apps provide remote access to inside-office functions such as approvals, expenses, timecards, procurement, sales orders, inventory, product information, project management, project manufacturing, maintenance and field service.

Mobile management of enterprise resources

Until recently, there has been a clear division between staff working in the office and those operating away from the office. The first group had free access to documents and business apps, but the latter were restricted in what they could access. SAP Mobile Apps are changing this situation.

For example, the It.mobile app, which runs on devices supported by Android and iOS, was developed by SAP gold channel partner itelligence. It enables remote access to SAP applications ERP, CRM and BI and the system's component structure means it is possible to adapt it to the specific requirements of different industries, such as pharmaceuticals, logistics, FMCG and insurance.

Making transactions, serving customers and warehouse work are the functions most frequently supported by our mobile ERP system

Joanna Bałut, Comarch ERP Mobile

“It.mobile deployment translates into greater availability of business data and better efficiency of teams operating off-site,” says Krzysztof Jan Witczak, sales director at itelligence Poland. “Mobile workers can count on support in almost all their typical activities, such as work planning, including routes and trade visits, recording sales results and service. It helps them to collect information about visits and to deal with data from meetings with customers.”

Similar functions are supported by a package of mobile apps from ERP Comarch Mobile, which enable procurement, CRM activities, warehouse and reporting activities to be performed by smartphone.

“Making transactions, serving customers and warehouse work are the functions most frequently supported by our mobile ERP system,” says Joanna Bałut, product manager at Comarch ERP Mobile.

“With the use of mobile apps, employees have access to a range of products and to customer data, including information about current payments. Based on such data, they can perform pre-selling operations (taking orders and tenders), direct selling and then print documents.”

Asseco BS's Mobile Touch is a sales platform for organisations that employ mobile sales forces. The system is for both iOS- and Android-powered mobile devices.

Andreas Enders, vice-president, international sales at Asseco BS, says: “At present, our Polish-origin mobile platform is used by over 21,000 sales representatives in dozens of countries. It shows the scale of our operations and the number of clients that we serve. 

“With so many users served, we have been able to gather extensive knowledge of the FMCG market and future trends. We know this market is becoming extremely challenging, in Poland and in other countries. Increasing market share and boosting sales through organic growth is more difficult than ever.”

Mobile Touch for sales force

Beverage producer Maspex Group, one of the leaders in Poland's food market, has implemented Mobile Touch – SFA system from Asseco BS. Its aim was to improve the efficiency of its sales representatives’ daily work and strengthen the supervision and management of staff. Initially, Maspex used Asseco BS’s Mobile Preselling system, available on PDAs, before deploying Mobile Touch.

Mobile Touch does not only translate into increased efficiency, but also improves our customer care and our positive image towards business partners

Mariusz Zubała, Maspex Group

Mariusz Zubała, commercial director at Maspex Group, says: “Compared to traditional SFA applications, Mobile Touch enables faster access to information, including multimedia materials, and helps the sales process by including audio-visual messages and leveraging touch-screen technology so that staff can display multimedia presentations of Maspex’s offers while visiting customers.”

Now Mobile Touch supports the company's business processes related to organisation, execution and sales management, and simplifies the document workflow and verification of survey results collected by sales representatives. The system has been adapted to Maspex's specific requirements. During deployment, several of Mobile Touch's functions were developed to integrate with the firm's data exchange platform. Now it is possible  for Maspex to send orders from the SFA system to distributors and retrieve information about resales executed by its trade partners.

“Mobile Touch does not only translate into increased efficiency, but also improves our customer care and our positive image towards business partners,” adds Zubała.

Asseco BS's Enders says: “The main objective of the system is to suggest to sales managers what specific action they should take for which clients and at what time, in order to achieve the best outcome, based on the current and past sales data analysis. It is an intelligent command centre and a source of information created to enable CPG producers to win the battle for clients. The place where this battle occurs is a retail outlet –  for example, a store, petrol station or pharmacy.”

So, in the near future in Poland, business apps might well be designed first for mobile devices, then adapted to the needs of traditional desktops.

This was last published in February 2015

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It sounds like they are in a unique position to leverage the growth of mobile browsing to reinvent their business processes rather than updating existing processes to “fit.”
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Plus, I still see new market opportunities and horizons in the mobile apps deployment. It is a great way when a company is looking for further strategic development. Some interesting thoughts can be found here: http://gloriumtech.com/blog/what-can-a-mobile-app-really-do-and-should-you-create-one/
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