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Car maker gets on the mobility bandwagon

12 Feb 2013 THE AGE - TREVOR CLARKE


TOYOTA Australia is migrating the majority of its 4000-plus workforce to a new enterprise mobility strategy as part of a broader technology transformation effort.

While the Japanese giant is far from being the first enterprise in Australia to announce a mobility strategy, using more than a dozen user profiles to decide on the type of mobility technology and level of service provided goes beyond the mobility strategies of some other enterprises.

"One of the big changes for us in the process of doing this rollout is not just that we have moved from BlackBerrys to Apple devices - although that was a big move in itself - we have moved from a very limited rollout that was hierarchy-based with a senior executive-only program to something that is entirely based on the mobility needs of your job role," said Toyota Australia service delivery corporate manager, Ellis Brover.

Service provider UXC used an AirWatch mobile device management tool to implement the strategy and offers the auto company a tiered support service depending on user needs, delivered from an Australian-based centre.

Not every role will be mobile. Some pockets of desk-based work will remain with Toyota exploring Windows 8 and hybrid tablet-laptops as part of its next refresh.

"We have done this to empower each business division to make these decisions themselves rather than IT imposing a 'here are the people who can and can't have it'," Brover said. "We have developed a range of service offerings and associated tiers and costs. Each business division decides on what their needs are.

". . . There is a bit more overhead in managing a charge-back model but we have been able to absorb that in our existing headcount."

Travelling sales staff visiting 200 Australian dealerships used to carry a laptop and 3G dongle, which Brover said was under-utilised and not delivering enough productivity.

Now each rep has an iPad with access to email, calendar and other pre-installed apps. Brover said employees had experienced a boost to their productivity, professionalism, presentation and morale since adopting the tablets.

"It was one of the most positive responses we in IT have had to any initiative. But it does quickly get replaced with, 'that's great, but what's next?' We are working hard to enable access to company systems to make them mobile-enabled."

Brover said the company was also developing tailored mobile solutions for specific job roles. "We are looking at people whose roles can benefit from a completely different approach. Serving customers in dealerships is one obvious example."

Last week Deloitte Access Economics said mobility technologies would help drive productivity benefits to the tune of $11.8 billion over the next decade, up from $495 million in 2011.