I can almost hear the voice in your head as you read this. “How what is like cybersecurity?” Fear not. There are similarities between warehouse mobility and cybersecurity, and they are not only interesting, but relevantly illustrative. Really. But first, a bit of background.
Warehouse mobility: not (necessarily) warehouses on wheels
In this context, “warehouse mobility” refers primarily to enablement of employees via mobile devices and applications that help them to do more, better, faster, more accurately, and more securely. “Rugged enterprise handheld mobile computers are used as data collection and processing devices across a variety of workflows in virtually every industry,” renowned analyst David Krebs of VDC Research writes in “Optimizing Mobile Warehouse Solutions.” “These devices are ubiquitous in warehouses and distribution centers for inventory and material management applications to courier delivery drivers supporting parcel delivery verification and beverage distributors supporting digital exchange. Organizations rely on these devices to conduct business-critical applications and operations in real time.”
Ubiquity and business criticality: two characteristics warehouse mobility and cybersecurity have in common. And these are just the beginning.
Warehouse mobility is not only ubiquitous and critical to many enterprises. It is also at an evolutionary pivot point. This is because, as Krebs continues, “the dominant OS supporting the devices is nearing its end of life, leaving current customers with no clear migration path forward. Put another way, no matter which OS platform an enterprise looks to deploy next to support these applications, the application will need to be redeveloped and recoded as it will not be forward-migratable.”
In its current state, mobility in the warehouse faces multiple challenges that in many ways mirror those facing cybersecurity (and IT) decision makers. A disruptive, disrupting, and rapidly evolving competitive vendor environment. Significant questions about the availability and cost of skilled labor. Widely used technology platforms facing end of life and significant future disruption. Demands for faster, frictionless transactions and user interactions. And of course, a growing need for more and better security.
What warehouse mobility can learn from cybersecurity
Fortunately, those seeking to address the challenges of mobility in the warehouse can also take heart—and some useful lessons—from those who are successfully tackling the challenges of cybersecurity.
As too many enterprises continue to realize too late, the old ways of thinking about and implementing cybersecurity are woefully inadequate in the face of modern threats. Focus on traditional defenses such as firewalls and antivirus solutions must expand to embrace proactive protections that prevent, detect, and remediate threats. Similarly, to remain efficient and effective, warehouse mobility must migrate and modernize. It may not be easy, but it is absolutely necessary. And absolutely worth the effort.
Cybersecurity and warehouse mobility teams face the shared challenge of a skills gap. Experienced, talented people are scarce and expensive in both domains. In in both arenas, one of the most effective responses is employee-enabling automation. In cybersecurity, automated patch management and user self-service features free up skilled, expensive staff for more strategic, valuable tasks. In the warehouse, applications with modern visual interfaces and voice support make employees more productive, valuable, and accomplished. And in both environments, the benefits can rapidly pay back the investment in the modernization that enables those benefits.
“The greatest perceived barriers or concerns regarding upgrading existing mobile solutions include the cost and time required to recode legacy mobile applications and the potential security threats introduced by next generation mobile platforms,” Krebs writes. In June 2016, VDC Research surveyed more than 100 warehouse and distribution center decision makers with mobility solution purchase or specification responsibility. Nearly half (49.2 percent) cited security features as the second-most important mobile device selection criterion, just behind quality and reliability (cited by 52 percent). All of which argues for greater collaboration among warehouse mobility, cybersecurity, and IT decision makers at just about every enterprise with a warehouse or distribution center. Perhaps even including yours.
Ivanti: Your warehouse mobility technology partner
The supply chain team at Ivanti (formerly Wavelink) has helped to modernize warehouse mobility and empower warehouse employees for some time now. And no other warehouse technology provider has the breadth of solutions or depth of expertise in cybersecurity Ivanti enjoys.
Download the Krebs/VDC report, “Optimizing Mobile Warehouse Solutions” for more details about the challenges and opportunities presented by warehouse mobility. Then, check out some of the Ivanti team’s previous blog posts on warehouse mobility modernization and other issues related to supply chain optimization. Ivanti’s solutions online, or contact Ivanti directly. Let us help you make your warehouse as mobile, modern, secure, and valuable to your business as possible.