Why Enterprise Mobility Is More Transformational Than We Ever Thought

Kari Ingebritsen

Judging from today’s customer experiences, it seems that most businesses have gone mobile. Travelers can check into a hotel, pick a room, and unlock rooms with the ease of an app-generated digital key. Likewise, patients can reorder prescriptions with a simple scan of the barcode on a medication bottle and chat with a pharmacist and a live doctor when needed. And now that 87% of organizations are expected to expand their app portfolio over the next year, such customer interactions will become the norm.

Yet although most businesses will proudly tout their use of mobile devices to engage customers and allow employees to stay connected, it’s rare to find an example of true transformation that goes beyond the customer experience. Sure, enterprise mobility may add value that makes customers happy and work more convenient. But is the technology helping the business become more sustainable and profitable than ever before? That’s what we’re doing at Cargill.

Cargill: Reengineering an end-to-end process with a mobile strategy

Cargill is one of the largest food companies in the world, bringing together people, ideas, and resources to deliver products, technology, and ways of operation that help build successful businesses and communities. We are based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with 150,000 employees across 70 countries. As dispersed as we are, mobile solutions are an important part of staying up-to-date on business and production performance and events. But a recent assessment of one of our processes made us realize that there’s so much more to the potential of enterprise mobility than any of us previously thought.

Overall, the business has a lot of trucks on the road moving food and food ingredients from a farm to a plant and then to our customers. A tedious part of the shipment process is the mundane task of completing paperwork and rekeying information into multiple screens of an internal system. When our drivers arrive at the scheduled delivery or pickup site, they are asked by the receiver to complete pages of paperwork, stand by as a shipping clerk enters data into multiple systems, load or unload the shipment, and finally get underway to the next site. Needless to say, the process is far from optimal.

Through design thinking, we carefully considered the entire experience from the perspective of everyone involved, including the trucker, shipping clerk, and warehouse manager. Jointly with SAP’s Global Design team and Apple’s Enterprise Design leads, we visited one of our plants in California and interviewed the truckers to better understand their “day in a life.” Shadowing the people as they work really opened our eyes to the little issues and challenges that our current paper processes cause. It also helped us to repeal some incorrect assumptions that would have led us down wrong paths. Equipped with that information, we were able to return to the design lab, where we created a mobile app that not only streamlined the operation, but also made it convenient and straightforward.

And we decided to implement this app natively on iOS, since we understood that only the best performance and most seamless usability would lead us to the results we expected. Since our back ends run on SAP Transportation Management, the new SAP Cloud Platform SDK for iOS was a natural fit for the development. And this has proven to be a very valuable choice: Within only a few months, we had been able to define the scope, design the app, and develop, release, and test it. We have already iterated four times and changed small pieces of the design to further improve the usability for our truckers.

The new native iOS app will allow our truckers to see their delivery schedule, map out the best possible route, notify locations of their arrival, and check in. Through location-based services, integrated barcode scanners, beacons, and other mobile features, most of the information needed to complete the paperwork is automatically provided and sent directly to the shipper’s and receiver’s system. Also, instructions for loading and drop-off can be sent directly to the trucker’s mobile device; there’s no need to park the truck and walk to the shipping office.

The bottom-line lesson: Enterprise mobility is changing our view of our business

The use of this new iOS app will certainly revolutionize the logistics function of our business. A site visit that may have taken an hour or more to complete can now be done within minutes. This innovative approach will not only keep our truckers’ day moving faster, but also enable us to serve more customers and expand our routes without having to increase our workforce.

To us, enterprise mobility is more than about just keeping people connected. It’s about speed, ease of use, and simplification for our customers, as well as our employees. And the further we move Cargill down the path to digitization, the more value we will add to their operations.

For more insight on enterprise mobility strategies, see 4 Reasons Why Mobile Innovation Demands A Mobile Mindset.

Kari Ingebritsen

About Kari Ingebritsen

Kari Ingebritsen was appointed enterprise architect at Cargill in 2014. She focuses on research, new tech development, and applications development integration patterns. One of her main drivers is to improve development processes and increase developer productivity. She´s also involved with the SAP User Experience Council, which advises SAP of their UX strategy. Kari joined Cargill 1999 as an IT technical associate after she earned her M.S. at University of St. Thomas.