Mobile PLM: Retail’s enemy or perfect opportunity?

On January 9, 2007 Steve Jobs introduced the world to a device that would change our lives forever: the iPhone. At the time, Apple was venturing to reinvent the mobile phone through revolutionary user interface (UI) and innovative software, claiming that the iPhone was five years ahead of any other phone on the market.


Whether you’re an Apple fan or not, it’s hard to argue he was wrong. Over the last 11 years, we have seen a wave of smartphones with increasing performance, capability and size. Having replaced the space in our pockets once reserved for change and tissues, the modern smartphone has transformed the way society operates. From the convenience of having an on-hand navigation system to the connected world of social media where we are only a tweet, like, or poke away from interacting with our friends, acquaintances and the like, post-smartphone life looks dramatically different from a decade ago.


Alongside these positive changes, however, come challenges. It isn’t hard to open a news site and be met with a story on how smartphones are taking over our lives, or how the digital native generation is increasingly dependent on their cell phones for everything. In this ever-evolving world of mobile devices, where there are such polarized views on benefits and drawbacks, which side do we choose?  Our options:


View mobile as the enemy: Mobile sucks up our time, distracts our staff and slowly takes over our lives. If we adopt this view, we will likely keep mobile at arm’s length.


View mobile as an opportunity: Embrace these devices and utilize their functionality to benefit our lives and our businesses.


Can retailers embrace mobile and use it to their benefit? I say yes: Mobile is not the enemy, but rather an opportunity waiting to happen, and can make the product lifecycle management (PLM) process easier and more efficient than ever before.  Here’s how:


  • Embrace connection. Of course, no one likes getting a call on their phone from the boss at midnight! However, having a device that allows real-time communication with teams and suppliers adds significant value to the PLM process. Mobile allows us to be constantly connected with what is going on throughout the end-to-end process.
  • Instant collaboration. In an industry where teams are spread across many departments in many geographies and time zones, frequent collaboration with the retail community is ever more important. Mobile-enabled collaboration makes it easier for retailers to work together without being tethered to a physical computer. They can be more productive and interact instantly with mobile, speeding up the whole PLM process.
  • Streamline workflows. Mobile technology is one of the fastest moving markets today. The realization of QR codes, virtual reality and 3-D image capability in our pockets allows retailers to use these technologies at any time and any place to streamline PLM workflows.

If retailers treated mobile as an opportunity rather than an enemy, they can start on an exciting journey toward a more effective PLM solution. Embracing mobile will save time for everyone involved in the design and development process, greatly improving a company’s speed-to-market.


Whatever your current view is on mobile, I believe now is the time to acknowledge it as an asset to the PLM process. The power is in our hands, and if it ever starts to show signs of slowing down, there is always the off switch.


Find out why retailers are focused on leveraging cool tools like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and augmented reality for a better PLM process on the Bamboo Rose blog.