Toll, BAE Systems look to apps for ops

Toll, BAE Systems and Kimberly Clark are among a list of companies striving to use mobile applications to improve their everyday operations.
Written by Suzanne Tindal, Contributor

Toll, BAE Systems and Kimberly Clark are among a list of companies striving to use mobile applications to improve their everyday operations.

These companies, as well as Deaf Services Queensland, Bedford Group and Global Food equipment, were shortlisted in an Optus Business apps face-off where the winner is provided with resources to build a pilot app. The entries ranged from apps to help improve sales to job search for the disabled.

Toll's entry revolved around an app that would help truck drivers avoid fatigue. The driver enters planned driving hours into the app, which returns possible shift and break alternatives. The driver presses a button when they begin the shift, and the phone alerts the driver when they need to take a break, while keeping a record of work history. When the driver indicates via the app that he or she wants to take a break, the app will use the phone's GPS to locate rest areas. The driver can also use social networking to rate the amenities at the rest stop. With multiple drivers on the app, drivers can see which towns their colleagues are visiting and what their status is, whether driving or on a break.

BAE Systems wanted to manage its "war rooms" in which employees discuss the company's projects, which can be in the ballpark of $1 billion. The problem is that these "war rooms" are in high demand and are located across multiple buildings, so finding a free space can be difficult. BAE Systems' proposed app would see users able to select the building they're in and see a list of available meeting rooms (as well as their capacity and facilities) in that building or adjacent buildings, keeping in mind unclassified and classified security domains. The user could then book the room with the app.

Kimberly Clark wanted to equip its Health Care Sales Team with an app that would give the sales team access to real-time performance analytics. The other apps looked to help deaf people communicate with the rest of the application, disabled people find jobs, and service technicians record and receive payment for jobs.

Optus pointed to research it conducted earlier in the year, where it surveyed over 320 Australian IT and HR managers, which showed that 57 per cent of enterprises were looking to deploy customised apps in their businesses, while only 46 per cent intended to deploy off-the-shelf apps.

Previously, Optus Business director of Marketing and Strategy, Scott Mason, said that customisation was key to developers selling their services in the enterprise market. Development houses just couldn't recycle code for better margins.

"Most of the apps that are developed do have the need for customisation," he said.

The app face-off received over 100 submissions. The company to receive the support to develop its app will be announced later this month.

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