Removing obstacles to mobile sales team productivity

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For organizations that rely on a mobile salesforce, persistent and resilient connectivity is essential for meeting customer needs and achieving sales goals. Yet companies are equipping their sales teams with devices that entirely depend on networks their enterprises neither owns nor controls and about which they have little insight. That can make it difficult to diagnose and address problems when a salesperson complains about application or device failures… This problem is magnified significantly at large businesses where as much as 70 percent of sales are conducted in the field.

Whether in a rural setting where cell towers are few and far between or in a dense urban environment where carrier network congestion can bring data traffic to a crawl, field sales professionals need to access business applications and information. But what happens when they can’t connect? Ever adaptable, a good salesperson will find a way to cope. Though the workarounds for unreliable network access have consequences that impact the bottom line and the reputation of their organization.

At US Foods, for instance, sales reps were so used to the poor performance of the company’s mobile VPN that they armed themselves with paper order forms and returned to the office early to place orders in batches each day. But that “solution” created two new problems: without real-time access to the company’s inventory management system, reps would take orders for items that were out of stock, which frustrated customers and embarrassed reps. And those early returns to the office to place orders cost US Foods nearly 1.1 million hours of valuable face time with customers per year.

Similarly, AT&T’s field engineers found that network access negatively impacted their ability to successfully service customers and keep them happy. During onsite visits, due to intermittent network access, business apps would often quit forcing the engineers to waste time repeatedly logging back into apps. Not only did that reduce the number of customer jobs completed per day, the company also dealt with a strain to its support desk for IT resources needing to solve field engineering mobility issues.

US Foods and AT&T are not alone. A recent study by WBR of more than 100 senior-level executives of global enterprises confirmed application access was the top complaint among field users. Forty percent of organizations reported up to 300 connectivity related trouble tickets a month and nearly half admitted they are unable to easily diagnose those issues.

Mobile performance and operational intelligence software solves these challenges by stabilizing and insulating field applications from network disconnects. This software also provides IT teams with robust data and insights to proactively address application access issues regardless of the network. Enterprises can shift their focus from simply managing mobile devices to comprehensively optimizing the performance of their mobile assets. For a highly mobile sales organization, that can be a huge differentiator.

These software platforms allow mobile sales professionals to maintain seamless application access between cellular and Wi-Fi networks, without any disruptions as they roam. They provide secure, reliable access to data as well as ensuring compliancy to the latest applications and security updates. All of these capabilities are essential for field sales to effectively do their jobs.

But it is in the operational intelligence capabilities that these software platforms can have their biggest impact. They allow IT teams to actively monitor the performance of mobile assets to identify potential problems before they become serious and quickly fix issues that will keep a field sales professional from completing essential tasks.

They allow enterprise IT departments to:

• Get a real-time snapshot of their entire mobile workforce – including visualizations of network, device, application and diagnostic data – to quickly diagnose and resolve user-specific or system-wide problems.

• Gather comprehensive data from all mobile devices as well as applications and user behaviors. Get a single view of location, connectivity, end-user experience, data throughput, and performance data across Wi-Fi and cellular networks.

• Determine whether heavy application data demands or network congestion are adversely impacting business performance.

• Clearly see whether corporate data is going to countries, servers, domains or applications that it shouldn’t, whether devices are compromised, field workers aren’t using a VPN or if they are accessing unsecured wi-fi networks.

• Reduce the workload on back office IT resources by equipping frontline IT staff and users with self-service troubleshooting tools.

“Operational Intelligence platforms are an important development for enterprise IT teams giving them visibility and control of how end users, applications, devices, network infrastructure, and internal and external services all interact,” said Phil Hochmuth, Program Director, Enterprise Mobility Analyst, IDC. Enterprises can leverage the unique troves of data they collect including network and packet inspection, monitoring of user and application behavior and network performance.”

A comprehensive mobile performance and operational intelligence platform ensures that a mobile-first sales organization gets the most out of its investments in mobile devices and applications. Keeping field sales professionals connected lets them focus on their customers and delivering greater bottom-line impact.

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