Enola Labs CTO Marcus Turner presented a webinar this month on developing strategies for enabling the mobile workforce. As mobile devices increasingly become the first point of contact between a business, its employees and clients, it becomes more important to integrate mobility into your organization. Employees today are reaching more for their smartphones or tablets, rather than a PC or laptop, and in order to keep up with this shift, businesses need to develop a mobile strategy for their workforce. Exploring some of Marcus’s key points from the webinar, it’s easy to see why mobility has become such a key strategy in the enterprise.
Mobilizing the workforce involves more than putting tablets into the hands of employees and allowing them to work remotely- it involves a fundamental shift in how an organization operates and integrating everyone into the mobile workforce. According to the Yankee Group, 38 percent of American workers are already a part of the mobile workforce, with that number growing exponentially. Forrester Research reported last year that the number of tablets used in work environments is expected to triple to 905 million by 2017, and, according to a Cisco study on the international workplace, 32 percent of employees globally now rely on more than one mobile device during a normal workday. Three out of five of these employees also said they don’t need to be in the office to be productive.
With numbers like these, it’s clear that employees feel that mobility in the workplace is now a necessity, not a nice-to-have.
It’s important, when considering making a mobile shift, to first outline the benefits your organization would see from a mobile solution. Defining mobility benefits can be a powerful communication tool between IT and the business. You should focus on defining: strategic outcomes of the mobile solution and how it supports organizational goals, key business benefits sought and how they tie into mobile, how technology capabilities will result in business benefits, initiatives that are necessary for success across business, tech, people, and processes, as well as assumptions regarding the success of the mobile program.
A mobile workplace makes for anytime, anywhere workers. Allowing your employees to expand their working capabilities beyond their desk and 9-5 schedule can enable your organization to: improve efficiency, allow for greater productivity, encourage employee collaboration, increase client/customer satisfaction, improve employee satisfaction, and create an environment that meets next generation expectations by empowering younger workforces with the tools they use daily.
In the past, device security and controlling BYOD (bring-your-own-device) policies were a main challenge of a mobile workforce solution. However, these challenges have been overcome. According to the IBM X-Force report from 2013, mobile computing in 2014 is set to be more secure than traditional desktops. Every day, new strategies for mobile security are developed and designed. BYOD control issues were heavily focused on in previous years and the policies have been figured out through detailed resolutions such as: specifying which devices are permitted, defining strict security and service policies, making it clear who owns information, defining what content is allowed/banned, integrating the BYOD plan with an Acceptable Use policy, and setting up an employee exit strategy.
Today’s challenges for a mobile workforce are more focused on optimizing communication efficiency and understanding how to truly increase everyone within the organization’s productivity. Businesses have to create a strategic vision for their mobile process in order to achieve a mobile workplace that allows users to create, consume, store, and share content, as well as initiate and execute business processes.
Enabling new lines of business through mobility is also a challenge, and moving from “marketing mobile” to “enabled mobile” also tends to be difficult for many businesses. The trend now is that employees are looking towards consumer-based solutions to enable their working mobility, which can be a risk to businesses, so investing in tactical solutions for mobile collaboration technology can address this issue.
When a business develops a mobile strategy, they are creating a plan to achieve an overall goal while leveraging the benefit of mobility. Simply deciding to integrate mobile into your organization is rarely effective- you need to clearly outline when you are hoping to achieve by integrating mobility- that way your end result is measurable and accountable. The first step of developing a mobile strategy is to outline exactly what your strategic approach will be, and aligning that with your organization’s overall strategy. Having a cohesive mobile strategy throughout your organization will reduce fragmentation, add efficiency, and spotlight areas where better optimization can occur.
The overall goal of any mobility strategy is to lead to company profit- because of this, it is important to understand your business process inside and out when developing your strategy, since it will have a direct impact on financial gain. Mobile strategy is not “one size fits all.” Instead, mobile strategy is highly dependent on your industry, company culture, business process, employee expectations, and several other factors that need to be taken into consideration when beginning to develop your mobile workforce strategy.
Designing and developing a mobile strategy will result in nothing without serious implementation- truly integrating mobility into your business structure and process takes time and effort, and is the only way you will see tangible results. When attempting to integrate your strategy, it’s important to clearly establish your initiative model so that employees can get on board and understand exactly what it is the company is doing and expects from them. It’s also important to involve whoever will be using your mobility plan in the process, so that they feel their opinion is taken into consideration- this makes them more likely to adopt the plan. Listening to feedback from adopters of the process after implementation is also key to having a well-established mobility plan. Engaging users in training of how to use new technology is also key- many of those who have resistance to change in the workplace are usually resistant due to not actually understanding how best to utilize the technology.
There exists a close relationship between an organization’s mobility strategy and the strategies for workforce planning and estates: mobility can be both an enabler and requirement for different work styles and accommodation approaches, such as remote working and hot-desking. What’s needed is appropriate governance, with representatives at a senior level, to ensure all complementary strategies are aligned to create real benefits to the organization.
Sooner than we know it, enterprise mobility will take an even greater leap into a consumer-facing enterprise, allowing employees to use their own devices through a “personal cloud.” Allowing them this freedom, however, reduces the control a business has over their own technology, so balancing the power will be important. While the cloud does provide some of the answers, it doesn’t give them all, but many businesses are switching to app models that emphasize consumerization and cloud. Shadow IT will also play a new role in enterprise mobility- as in, it doesn’t really exist. Employees using this “shadow IT” simply want to do their jobs- using under-the-radar software is something that helps them get their jobs done, and as enterprise mobility progresses and grows, shadow IT will step out of the darkness and into the forefront of engaging employees.
Wearable and connected technology will also eventually impact the mobile enterprise, raising the issue of balance between individual employee convenience and corporate control. As these devices become more popular, it will be up to businesses to determine if they’re appropriate for the workplace and will improve their business processes.
It’s obvious that enterprise mobility is, and, really, has, shifted from a strategy to consider, to a necessity for business optimization and growth. In order to plan, develop, and implement a mobile workforce, a business needs to have a full, in-depth understanding of its processes, needs, caveats, and culture. As employees become more and more mobile, businesses will eventually have to catch up in order to stay in the game.
If your business has been toying with the idea of a mobile strategy, our software consultants can help! We offer short mobile strategy sessions to discuss what you’re looking for and what we can offer to get you on track to a more mobile workforce. To learn more, contact us today- we’d love to discuss a mobile solution with you.