CSCMP's Supply Chain Quarterly
July 23, 2019
Forward Thinking

Study finds link between mobile device management and worker productivity

Lack of battery management adds up to lost productivity in retail and logistics operations, survey shows.

Most companies fail to understand the importance of maintaining their workforce mobile devices, leading to lost productivity in retail and logistics operations, according to a survey by technology research firm VDC Research, released this week.

The study revealed that just 20 percent of companies have visibility into the performance of the mobile solutions their workers use, uncovering a "critical flaw" in mobile workforce productivity: a lack of battery management. The study found that workers lose 50 minutes of productivity with every mid-shift battery failure, which the researchers said happens at least 30 percent of the time. This means that retail and logistics companies with 500 or more mobile workers can realize productivity and service losses in the millions of dollars, according VDC Research, Framingham, Mass.

"With more than 50 percent of the workforce mobile—representing 1.7 billion workers—mobile solutions are no longer a luxury but rather a necessity," David Krebs, executive vice president, enterprise mobility & connected devices at VDC Research, said in a statement announcing the findings. "The interconnection between mobile solutions and workflow is what we refer to as business-critical mobility, which depends on reliable access to provide real-time critical information at points of interaction with customers and employees. All of this relies on batteries."

The study also found that:

  • 80 percent of mobile device total cost of ownership comes after the initial purchase, and replacement batteries are a considerable portion of that cost;
  • Since battery performance is a good indicator of other problems, 89 percent of survey respondents said they would consider a battery subscription plan that provides testing, removal, replacement and recycling of bad batteries;
  • 40 percent of decision-makers consider battery life to be a leading mobile device selection criterion, third on the list after price and quality/reliability.

VDC surveyed 200 enterprise mobility decision makers in retail organizations, representing 71,000 stores. The research was sponsored by power solutions provider Global Technology Systems, which says it offers a Batteries-as-a-Service solution to minimize worker downtime and workflow disruption.

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