FileMaker survey: companies now mobilizing in-house business operations
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FileMaker survey: companies now mobilizing in-house business operations

Move over, road warriors, and enter the new era of productivity warriors. Many businesses are now using mobile devices to automate inside their building or company campus, according to a recent survey by FileMaker, Inc. ( Further, businesses are building custom solutions to automate and “mobilize” processes in nearly every department.

Database software maker FileMaker -- with millions of deployments, including more than 500,000 downloads of FileMaker Go, a free app for accessing FileMaker databases from iPad and iPhone -- polled customers on their use of mobile devices to boost business productivity. The research included a survey of 499 customers who have deployed FileMaker solutions on iOS devices as well as an analysis of 102 mobility case studies.

"The next wave of business mobility, fueled by iPad and iPhone-equipped 'productivity warriors,' is delivering real ROI [return on investment] by automating processes in the building and on the company campus," says Ryan Rosenberg, vice president of marketing and services for FileMaker, Inc. "Of course we see many traditional road warriors using FileMaker, but we were surprised to find how much use was actually occurring inside the building. We were also impressed at how frequently businesses are replacing paper-based processes with iPads and iPhones, thus automating areas of their business not practical before."

The survey and research revealed that FileMaker mobile customers use many ways to connect workers to their servers, but the most common method, occurring 59% of the time, was direct connection over local wireless network to an on-premise server. This means workers using an iPad, iPhone or iPod touch are operating within a building or at least on a campus with an integrated wireless network.  

For example, the Austin Convention Center equipped its maintenance and technical service teams with iPads running a custom FileMaker business solution on iPad and desktops. The solution saves endless steps for workers in the six-block-long facility, eliminates a paper-based work order system and improves customer service.

The survey found organizations also are creating solutions that connect workers to FileMaker servers when out of the office.  Popular methods include remote connections via the Internet (35%) and connections via a VPN (21%). Some organizations use multiple ways to connect depending on where a worker is located at a particular time.

More than half (51%) of the mobility case studies involved replacing paper-based processes.

Boston University’s Center for English Language and Orientation Programs (CELOP), one of the leading intensive English as a Second Language (ESL) schools with 1,700 students per year, replaced its cumbersome, paper-based admissions processes -- which occur 10 or more times a year -- with a new, automated document management system on the FileMaker Platform. The system includes a custom solution running on iPads and desktops. The new system has replaced photocopiers with iPads, slashed up-front document collection time by more than 50%, and reduced wait times for students.

The survey found that organizations are "mobilizing" many traditional business tasks, not just “mobile” tasks. The top 10 tasks automated with FileMaker are: 1) contact and customer management; 2) inventory; 3) invoicing/quotes/orders/estimates; 4) field data collection and field surveys; 5) project management; 6) general data tracking and logging; 7) timesheets; 8) reports and analysis; 9) work tickets and scheduling; and 10) medical records. But it does not stop there — a wide range of business functions are being improved using custom iPad and iPhone solutions.

West Paw Design of Bozeman, Montana, a manufacturer of ecofriendly pet toys, beds and apparel, runs its entire business on FileMaker software. Its custom manufacturing and inventory automation solution -- which uses iPads and FileMaker Go to automate the manufacturing process -- has helped the company save hundreds of thousands of dollars annually; maintain sustainable manufacturing; keep manufacturing jobs local; and support 10% annual growth and exports to 28 countries.

The FileMaker survey also found that mobile deployments of FileMaker are found in virtually every key area business area within organizations, including operations (31%), information systems (28%), sales (23%), customer service (21%), finance/accounting (17%), marketing (13%), product development (12%), human resources (10%), procurement (8%) and legal (2%).  

Sea Breeze Farm is a grass-based animal farm known for its world-class winery, restaurant, charcuterie, butcher and cheese shops. Business owner George Page used the FileMaker Platform with FileMaker Go for iPad to create custom mobile solutions that manage production and sales across his collection of small businesses -- starting with helping him and his staff understand the production levels of the dairy cows on the farm.

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