Spend Matters has seen a very strong interest in certain industries in shifting to mobile adoption for eProcurement. We’re aware of one company that, looking ahead to 2014, is standardizing on a mobile tablet client as their standard eProcurement configuration. Support for buying in this context, outside of the office, will be top priority. But the shift to mobile, as Forrester’s Duncan Jones suggested at the recent Zycus Horizon event, is not as simple as reformatting a screen for a smaller format device. In short, while mobile may increase the flexibility to support a workforce outside of the office and “increase speed,” it also “reduces control.”
For example, in a mobile environment, it can be very easy for a user to gain an “incomplete” view of different buying options – and a requisitioner can make an “immediate” decision without going through the type of research they can (and should) do if they had access to more information on a bigger screen and/or when sitting at a desk with time to do their buying homework. Moreover, by its very nature, mobile tools most support “many form factors,” which reduces control over what information is displayed to users on specific screens.
Flipping over to the approvals side, mobile devices can make approvals too easy and administrators can “blindly” approve things that they would scrutinize further in a more traditional buying environment. Add to this challenge the need to build “context and analytics” into the buying process itself, and the mobile challenge mounts further. Here, as Duncan observes, for a frontline buyer, a tool must now be “context aware – job location, etc.” and mots also provide “guidance” sans “superfluous” input. And it must also be “tasked-focused” to support very specific steps, as opposed to providing a range of jumping off points.
Further, on the approvals side, applications must build in greater intelligence around approval automation (given the limited information provide to an approver), as well as provide “decision support” with “necessary information” as it becomes available. Mobile approval applications must also be tightly coupled with traditional “real approval” processes to enable a “full-screen” view to support “complex decisions” and workflows.
In other words, mobile is a brave new procurement buying world for companies. It must stand alone – and it must integrate with traditional P2P processes for different stakeholders and users at the same time.