With mobile technology now a ubiquitous component of doing business, providing your employees with comprehensive mobile solutions is critical to the success of your enterprise. But simply handing them devices loaded with apps isn’t enough; it takes careful planning to execute an effective mobile strategy.
Strategize or Fall Behind
In a 2015 survey of 1200 knowledge workers in Western Europe and the US, employees revealed a series of insights into the real state of mobile in the workforce today.
Findings showed that:
- Mobility is critical to getting their jobs done; 80% depended on mobile, and 60% revealed their customers expect them to be contactable out of work hours.
- Only one-third of employees feel their company is providing sufficient mobile technology support.
- Because IT departments are currently failing to respond to their mobile needs, 34% of respondents regularly found ‘workarounds’ to overcome company limitations.
- It is clear that many organizations are failing their employees – and in the long run, their customers – by not providing comprehensive mobile solutions.
However, those companies that do implement a mobility strategy reap the rewards. For example, British Gas, an energy company, supplied its field workers with tablets as they installed new meters in customers’ homes. This avoided the need to carry around large (and often outdated) manuals. It also helped employees contact customers more easily while on the road and track the process of every job. This led to a remarkable boost in productivity, simplified installations, increased employee satisfaction and enhanced customer service.
Success though involves more than simply providing employees with a device and some apps.
Building a Strategy
There are a wide range of factors to consider when developing an enterprise mobility strategy. It is essential that the company has a clear vision regarding what it wants from the mobile strategy, who will actually be using the device(s) and what the use case will be.
In some industries – such as contracting or construction, it will make the most sense for your company to provide workers with a company supplied device. They will be carrying out a range of tasks and will need a dedicated tool to help with all of these. In other industries – such as healthcare – it may make more sense to allow employees to download a company supplied app to their own personal device.
With a clear vision of where you want your company to be in terms of mobility, the next step is planning how to get there. Incorporating the following factors will ensure you have all your bases covered.
Evaluate Current IT
The first step in your strategy should be to evaluate your current IT scenario. Your employees are likely to be using a range of hardware – not only in terms of OS, but also in terms of portable devices, laptops, tablets, and mobile devices. Besides hardware, it is also crucial to consider the software your employees use. Do you have a SharePoint environment for file sharing? Which kind of CRM are you running? Do you use a cloud-based environment and do your employees use specialized tools that they’ll need to use on the road? You may find it valuable to produce a checklist.
Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) or Company-supplied?
A second question is to decide what your approach to mobile devices themselves will be. BYOD involves allowing employees to connect to your company’s systems via their own personal devices. Some of the advantages of BYOD include cost savings, employee empowerment, while at the same time personal devices may be more complicated to manage and update and may pose a higher risk of hacking and inappropriate use.
Choose Your Mobile Device Management (MDM) Provider
If employees are accessing company data via the cloud, beyond the parameters of your physical office, you face issues around data security and hacking. There is also a risk of current employees losing devices or intentionally sharing private company data while out the office. Beyond basic data protection, you should also consider one of a range of MDM suppliers such as MobileIron, Citrix, or VMware Airwatch. These tools provide a method of controlling devices from a central console, remote data wipe, and encryption at rest and in transit.
Training and Adoption Success
Achieving long-term ROI requires absolute user adoption of the solution you choose. While an intuitive User Interface (UI) and the versatility of mobile will certainly encourage adoption, training is likely to be beneficial too. Prior to introducing your strategy, carry out research with users about their preferred solutions asking the following kinds of questions such as: Which OS/device types do they currently use, and what do they want to use in future? What corporate apps do they want on their phones and tablets? Would they actually prefer BYOD or company supplied?
Before you actually deploy your chosen solution, it is wise to define the metrics you will use to gauge success. Again, the measurement you use will depend largely on your use cases, and can be achieved by considering pure monetary ROI or by carrying out opinion surveys with employees, 3, 6 and 12 months into the deployment.