A multi-country report across the healthcare and finance sectors from industry has revealed that firms may be deploying mobile computing without fully considering the underlying business processes or the working conditions of the end-user.
Digital pen and paper technology inventor Anoto, commissioner of the survey carried out by Quocirca, claims that is has revealed how mobile devices are often not fit for purpose and that the use of mobile technologies to automate traditionally paper-based processes can result in unnecessary complexity.
Excessive complexity of the mobile technology was picked up by 40% of the survey and nearly two-thirds agreed that technology solutions should be kept simple. Key issues cited included difficult to enter data during common tasks plus mobile devices’ vulnerability to theft, loss and breaking.
The study suggested that when mobile technology is more complex than necessary, it can get in the way of effective use. Instead of boosting productivity, warns Anoto, this frequently leads to increased and unforeseen costs that can detract from the effectiveness of the organisation. Furthermore, it adds that complicated technology deployments often fail in challenging environments and that poor training can reduce, rather than enhance, productivity.
More than half of the respondents regarded the high cost of mobile devices, along with their proneness to theft, loss and damage, as major barriers to their effective use. The survey suggested that IT decision-making was still dominated by upfront cost issues even though the ongoing expenditure for mobile devices was widely under-estimated. More than 70% of respondents were ‘unsure’ or had ‘no idea’ about the ongoing cost of failures.
“As mobile technologies have become cheaper and offer greater functionality, organisations tend to over standardise and adopt products that are too complicated,” cautioned Rob Bamforth, Principal Analyst of Quocirca, and author of the study. “Mobile technology needs to be simple and fit closely with the business task in hand and the needs of the user. It’s people, process and technology – in that order.”
Petter Ericsson, Chief Science Officer at Anoto added, “It’s ironic that mobile technologies which are designed to make workers’ lives more productive are, in some cases, having the opposite effect. “Organisations often don’t consider that a technology stands and falls with its users. Ideally, the solution they select should not require dramatic changes to existing processes, be intuitive with little or no training needed and capable of truly making staff more efficient.”