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August 7, 2017

Breaking down the barriers to business mobility

Companies of all sizes will have to embrace going mobile if they want to grow.

By James Nunns

Mobility is fast becoming a buzzword that’s hard to escape in the enterprise. Initially, it was a way in which employees could check their emails from their laptops, and make business calls from home.

With the rise of public Wi-Fi and increased security when it comes to accessing work data from a personal device, it’s no longer a surprise to see people working from laptops, or making business calls from their mobiles, while they’re out of the office. Indeed, in a recent survey of senior business decision makers in UK companies, 88 per cent said that their business permitted mobile, or “on-the-go” working.

Mobility

Andres Richter, CEO, Priority Software.

There are also clear benefits to going mobile. 95 per cent of those surveyed believed it increased productivity, and with increased productivity comes a reduction in errors, a rise in revenues, and the ability to work from anywhere, any time.

As workforces become increasingly digitally comfortable, we should expect to see a real push from businesses towards adopting mobility. And this shouldn’t be restricted to certain facets of the work force, or for certain business processes. Similarly, when we think of mobile working, we should think of mobile devices, and not just laptops. Complete mobility can only be achieved if it spans across both the company, and our devices.

While there’s clearly a desire to go mobile, and the benefits are tangible, the unfortunate reality is that many companies both large and small are still lagging behind. Ironically, while technology can help a company embrace mobility, it’s also being see as one of the biggest obstacles. Over a third of those surveyed said they did not have the correct technology to effectively work from a mobile device, and 43 per cent found that they couldn’t perform core business functions on a mobile application.

The good news, is that the technology exists. In the last few years in particular, there’s been an enormous amount of innovation within this sphere. Traditional ERP and CRM systems have struggled to shake off their reputation of being rigid and inflexible, but thanks to an enormous amount of innovation over the last few years, we now have the ability to open up the software to a range of devices. Similarly, there are tools such as mobile application generators which allow users to create a range of applications from their mobiles, and use them to perform core business processes no matter where they are.

These can be created in a matter of minutes, and don’t require high levels of IT expertise. For example, if you’re a sales rep, you can perform transactions, check factory stock levels, and reach out to the delivery drivers, without having to be at a computer. Similarly, a CEO would be able to see revenues, forecasts, and access real-time analytics, straight from his mobile. So with the right vendor, companies should find it relatively straight forward to access the technology that will allow their employees to work effectively, without being chained to a desk.

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The bad news, is that senior business decision makers clearly aren’t investing in this technology. The most likely reason is that they’re unaware of what’s available to them on the market. It can be hard to keep up with the plethora of tools that are constantly entering the market. Or, they may be aware of the technology, but are reluctant to use it. For many companies, especially the smaller ones, there’s a desire to stick to what they know as investing in new technology can be seen as daunting task.

Not only would employees have to be trained, but the concept of migrating data can be seen as an arduous process which many would rather avoid. Thankfully, many vendors realise this, and understand that not all companies will have a dedicated IT team, and not all companies will have tech-savvy employees. Because of this, they’ll often provide support with on-boarding to ease the process.

Read more: Mobility: The smart investment for every CIO

There is also a cultural barrier that seems to be preventing full mobility. 36 per cent of business decision makers that were surveyed admitted that they didn’t trust their employees to be as productive on-the-go, as they would be in the office. This is reflected in a culture of elitism that seems to be apparent when it comes to mobile working. Currently, those in senior management positions are most likely to work remotely with nearly three quarters working on-the-go once a week or more. And at the other end of the spectrum, customer service reps, and production staff almost never work from home.

Mobile working may currently be a nice option that’s available to a certain calibre of staff, but it’s soon going to become a necessity. As technology continues to advance, and cultural attitudes begin to shift, companies of all sizes will have to embrace going mobile if they want to grow, attract new employees, and stay ahead of their competitors.

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