Data, data everywhere

About half of manufacturing executives don't have access to enterprise software, specifically ERP software, from their smart phones or other mobile devices, according to a new North American study completed by IFS (

As data on plant operations and asset health increases, the ability to connect to it and use it to make better business decisions can be beneficial. However, very few respondents to the IFS study rated access to enterprise software from their mobile device highly and many have no access at all. The mobile interface is more important to respondents who regularly work during personal time than to those who work primarily during business hours, according to the study of more than 281 manufacturing executives conducted with analyst firm Mint Jutras.

About half of the participants indicated BlackBerry was their preferred mobile device. The iPhone (29%) and Android (20%) followed behind. But 42% of respondents said their next device would be an iPhone, which outpaced BlackBerry (37%).

In the study, only 27% of respondents were performing any functions in enterprise software using a mobile device. Respondents also shared their thoughts on the importance of the mobile interface in the selection process of ERP and other enterprise software.

For tablet computers, the iPad dominated, but with still a relatively small percentage carrying them for business use, according to the study. While the iPad appears to be poised for significant growth, its small initial share among this sample means even its projected 114% gain still means it lags smart phones in terms of actual use.

Where people are working outside the office has an impact on the importance of mobile access. While 59% said they’re working from home, either in a home office or another room, but in public places such as taxicabs, restaurants, and airplanes, where flat surfaces aren’t readily available and wireless connections can be iffy, mobile devices can offer an alternative.

As the lines between work and personal time continue to blur, mobile access to critical data becomes more important. In fact, 64% of respondents said they work between 4 and 20 hours remotely each week, and almost as many indicated they work during personal time one or more days each week. And 82% of the participants also said the mobile interface of enterprise software was either the most important feature or as important as other features.

Love it or hate it, but mobile access to has made critical work data a part of personal life.

The complete study results are available for download at