Real Time Communications Featured Article

Getting to the Productivity Promised Land in the Mobile Era

March 30, 2015
By RealTimeCommunicationsWorld Special Guest
Harjot Sihu, VP of Consulting at Vox Mobile

On the consumer side, the benefits of the mobile technology revolution have been advancing steadily, providing users with more capabilities and a broader range of choices. In contrast, the business side of mobile has been marked by advances and retreats. While technology has improved, companies have struggled to integrate the new capabilities into their operations, which has been frustrating for IT professionals and the workforces they serve.

Back when BlackBerry ruled the mobile business world, managing the mobile workforce was simpler for IT departments, and IT leaders were able to be proactive and strategic in rolling out mobile capabilities. For example, virtually everyone had access to the company intranet and instant messaging services. Today, the potential business benefits of mobility, with the addition of the iOS and Android platforms, are significantly greater, but businesses have to figure out how to manage these opportunities in order to fully benefit from them.

The proliferation of mobile devices on the consumer side and the advent of BYOD threw the steady state that had existed when BlackBerry was the default business device, into chaos. New platforms and device types, more connectivity options, a blurring of the lines between corporate and personal use, and the rise of downloadable apps completely changed the way people approach mobile communication, and companies are still struggling to adjust. Today’s IT departments are too caught up in fighting fires and dealing with tactical issues to give development of a long-term mobile strategy the attention it deserves.

The bad news is that on Vox Mobile’s mobile maturity assessment scale, most companies land around 2 out of 5 in the 11 categories being assessed. The good news is that there are now firm steps that can be taken in order to improve an organization’s maturity. Most companies are now in a position to transform their approach to mobile, moving from a tactical to a strategic stance to more fully benefit from the mobile revolution. Organizations that do so stand to gain significantly by improving security, employee satisfaction and their client experience while ramping up productivity.

One of the key steps toward realizing this transformation is to embrace the reality that BYOD is here to stay. Too many companies are still in denial, hoping to put the genie back in the bottle and return to the good old days of company-issued devices under the direct control of IT. As is increasingly clear, that’s not going to happen. Thanks to IT consumerization and a dramatic rise in personal smartphone and tablet ownership, employees will almost always have access to the latest technology, and companies won’t be able to keep up.

Some businesses embraced BYOD early on, hoping it would result in cost savings, but most companies have found that elimination of the expenses associated with supplying devices has been offset by the need to reimburse employees, provide appropriate support, and improve security. The real value in BYOD is the potential for greater corporate use of mobility. When supported with a proactive strategy, BYOD can allow previously unconnected employees to use their personal smartphones for work – significantly boosting communication, collaboration and productivity for the entire organization.

Another major step in executing a corporate mobile strategy is to conduct a workforce mobilization assessment, i.e., evaluate how user groups do their jobs and identify tasks that could be performed more efficiently and effectively with the appropriate application of mobility. For example, the use of mobile by field sales representatives, home healthcare workers and other positions that involve offsite work can greatly enhance productivity by enabling employees to take care of business on the road. Apps can also improve safety – literally saving lives by allowing field employees and headquarters to stay in touch and summon help if needed.

via Shutterstock

Most businesses are playing catch-up on mobile today, and many IT teams find the task of integrating constantly evolving mobile technologies into the business overwhelming. One solution is to outsource day-to-day mobile management so that the IT team can once again play a strategic role rather than constantly fighting tactical fires. Sometimes an outside perspective makes it easier to assess how employees are actually working in the field (rather than preconceived notions about how they’re supposed to be operating), which can be valuable.

But whether they go it alone or not, one thing is clear: Mobile complexity is here to stay, and companies that embrace it and fully harness the power of mobile can gain a huge competitive advantage. Consumers have benefited greatly from mobile, using it to stay connected and make life easier. And with the right strategy, enterprises can reach the productivity promised land too.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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