The impact of Covid 19 will continue to ripple across businesses long after the outward signs of the pandemic have disappeared. The same flexibility, process transparency, and collaboration that allowed businesses to adapt in times of uncertainty, will allow them to flourish in stable market conditions. Moving forward, competing effectively and growing will require companies to access all of the information trapped in siloed systems and connect the ecosystem of their employees, sub-contractors, assets, and customers. Selecting the right technology to harness the power and intelligence that has been stifled by siloed systems and manual processes is fundamental to success.
Below is a checklist of attributes that will help you maximize your technology investment with improved return on assets, increased customer engagement, and revenue growth.
- Real-time digital engagement platform – As consumers, it is almost unfathomable when a business doesn’t have a way to digitally order, track service delivery, and provide feedback. Imagine if the same engagement technologies that enable so many of our consumer interactions were applied to the equipment rental, sales and service industry, accelerating the speed of sales, service, and revenue. But traditional on-premise and proprietary cloud solutions operate primarily on batch, rather than real-time updates, resulting in aging and potentially outdated information as soon as an update occurs. Look for a solution that enables real time interactions and visibility of information across the enterprise with customers, operations, sales, customer support, field employees and contractors.
- Business flow configurability – Business processes enable repeatability and ensure consistency in service delivery. Digitizing processes should allow you to design workflows that take advantage of competitive differences, such as a broad branch network and skilled maintenance resources. Yet, there is a risk of losing flexibility if your chosen technology solution doesn’t allow workflows to be reconfigured as needed. Look for a system that allows you to dynamically create process maps not only for the needs of your business today but also as your business grows. The most flexible systems will include embedded workflow, transaction, and business-rules engines that enable users to easily create digital workflows, and set up business validation and data transformation rules on business entities and user interactions.
- Embedded integration engine – Integrating 3rd party systems of record such as ERP, CRM, inventory management, procurement, and sensor-based IoT into your work and asset management platform gives you visibility to the demand for human resources, equipment, and materials across your enterprise. Yet maintaining a complex library of APIs requires technology resources that many equipment businesses don’t have. Look for technology that offers an integration engine designed as part of a conical no code low code data architecture using RESTful APIs. This combination enables “speed-to-value” with complete end-to-end processing integration at an accelerated pace.
- Mobile-first native software – Intuitive design, reliability, and ease of use are table stakes for the adoption and use of new software solutions, particularly with a distributed workforce comprising employees and contractors. In the case of mobile apps, be sure to distinguish between web applications and native mobile apps. A web application is an HTML-driven user interface that appears to be a mobile app. While web apps are cheaper to develop, they have drawbacks that can hamper productivity. By nature, web applications have to be connected to the internet to access page content, limiting offline use. Additionally, accessing device capabilities such as GPS, camera, phone, and touchscreen can be problematic from within a generic browser. Native mobile apps, on the other hand, are developed using a platform’s core programming language and APIs. They are stored on the mobile device itself and can be accessed and utilized whether working in an office or delivering equipment to a remote part of the world. They are more efficient on their respective operating platforms and take full advantage of the device’s processing speed. Native mobile applications also integrate seamlessly with the device hardware readily accessing device capabilities.
- Implementation effort – Fitting a square peg into a round hole characterizes the feeling of many software implementations. Implementation timeframes of twelve months or more are not unusual for some of the big brand software companies with a tendency to go over time and over budget. Look for a solution that can address your industry-specific nuances with pre-configured best practices. Otherwise, you risk high levels of customization with custom code that will be costly and difficult to maintain. A successful implementation is a two-way street and will need, at the right points of the project, key business users involved to validate the workflows will work for their responsibilities. A confident provider will offer a fixed-price implementation with proper change control mechanisms built-in. Involve your end-users early in the process during testing so they not only have a say in the success of the project but also get up to speed on the solution. You and your team have a business to run and software implementation should not become a drag for your core business.