Companies are becoming more and more mobile all over the globe. The need for being mobile isn’t new, but as companies expand and support a distributed workforce, across smaller offices and facilities in multiple geographically distributed locations – this need is becoming a key focus in company IT policies and in CIO level discussions. Further, with technological improvements, the possibilities of working more effectively and productively by being mobile, is driving organizations to introduce mobility solutions.
As the mobile revolution sweeps through companies, more and more organizations are incorporating collaborative tools like Skype for Business and Cisco’s Jabber and Webex Teams to mobilize business workflows – and the list of tools is growing as we discover the benefits of corporate social networking tools like Slack, Jive, HipChat, Asana, and Workplace by Facebook to help us cooperate and communicate in new ways.
Business leaders can see the need for mobility and the immediate gains in efficiency by using new mobile tools, but for many there are still concerns regarding moving towards a service-based delivery model, even when the deployment of such solutions is lightning fast, and the solutions are getting exponentially better all the time.
So, when is the best time to invest in a mobility solution?
To answer this question, you must first gain an understanding of your organization’s requirements and the market. We’ll start by examining the significance of mobility to business.
Why are businesses adopting a mobile strategy?
Today we no longer consider a mobile worker to be a road warrior or someone away from their desk most of the time. A mobile worker is anyone that leaves their desk whether it’s for a meeting or for lunch but requires their enterprise applications at their fingertips to ensure they can respond to customer needs.
Many people are making the mistake of seeing mobility as simply the use of mobile phones, but mobility is so much more. Mobility describes the broad phenomenon of leveraging mobile solutions in the business environment. It involves people, processes, and technology. From a technology perspective, enterprise mobility entails mobile devices (tablets, smart phones, etc.), mobile software (including mobile device management, mobile application platform and mobile applications), the related IT professional services and mobile telecom services.
To understand the nature of mobility you must first understand what data and communication tools employees need to access to do their jobs. Very few workers (if any) are stationary 100 percent of the time, but the extent of their mobility will vary considerably. Whereas some workers need to be connected and accessible wherever they are, most employees perform their job on premises, in the office, shop, hospital, or factory and need to be accessible and connected while on the job.
Most people probably think of telephony when thinking about mobile solutions, but mobile applications and data communication has already caught up and passed voice in mobile volume. Users need to be connected to be able to perform their job. Imagine this scenario, a doctor walks into a patient’s room, based on their location and presence, the system will push the patient’s medical records to their mobile device and request an update of the records to confirm the patient visit. Cleaning personnel at a hotel may need to scan a bar-code to verify that a room has been cleaned, a shop manger needs inventory numbers on the shop floor to response to a customer’s questions – in short, a mobility solution is more than just a phone.
Why companies need to get more mobile
The reason companies pursue more mobile ways of working is that they strive to enhance productivity and efficiency by enabling their employees to perform their duties while on the move. Mobile capability enables more flexible ways of working, like free seating or activity-based work flows. There are studies showing that employees with mobility options have a higher level of work satisfaction and are less frustrated than their colleagues. It also helps companies speed up decision making – as everyone can share information easily via their mobile devices and finalize their decision quickly – directly affecting the company’s bottom line.
In many industries, like healthcare, retail, and manufacturing, mobile capabilities are an absolute necessity. In these industries, there are also specialized applications adapted to meet the specific needs of the workforce such as; patient alarm for nurses, man down alarms for lone workers in manufacturing, integrated bar-code scanners for retail employees and concierge requests for service teams in hospitality, etc. all helping companies to be more efficient, offer superior service, be legally compliant, and share data securely.
What are your mobility options?
As stated earlier many companies tend to only think about mobile phones or smartphones when mobile solutions are mentioned, but there are several (and in many cases, better suited) alternatives. Mobile solutions based on consumer grade mobile phones is the choice for workers that are on the road and therefore are truly mobile. But for all those workers that have a fixed place of work, but are mobile within it, there are other, often better alternatives.
Traditionally company’s mobility needs have been solved with DECT or VoWi-Fi technology, i.e. wireless phones. Modern DECT and Wi-Fi solutions are much more capable than your average domestic wireless phone. Both solutions are optimized for the host PBX, IP-PBX or UC platforms, and are an integrated part of the company’s communication platform – with specialized applications to aid workflow efficiency and data sharing.
Modern DECT and VoWi-Fi solutions are very effective communication tools adapted for professional users. Examples of a ‘mobility’ solutions (instead of simply using a mobile phone for calls) is reflected in a common manufacturing requirement for integrations with production equipment so that operators can read key performance indicators on their mobile rugged devices; or in Healthcare, which require specialist smart devices which can withstand hospital grade disinfectants etc.
In such examples mobile phones that are developed for the consumer market have several shortcomings, including the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). Although consumer phones are considered to be inexpensive, TCO studies show that a smartphone can cost as much as € 2,000 or £ 1,800 a year, including indirect costs for self- and peer-support, durability, security issues and manageability. And while there might be ways of addressing some of these shortcomings, the hype of employees bringing their own devices to work is being replaced with mobility investment strategies that transform businesses.
Mobility solutions integrated in collaboration platforms such as Skype for Business and Jabber also provide mobility for users with a laptop that can be connected to anywhere in the company LAN and thus provide a certain degree of mobility, specially if there are heavy data entry required.
We started off with the question – when is the best time to invest in a mobility solution? The time to invest is when the gap between investment and need align and mobility becomes a priority. Unfortunately, no one can predict when your company will be ready, it will always be individual to your particular needs.
However, the decision to invest must be taken after thoroughly analyzing your current situation and the desired outcome, and what is your company trying to achieve. By answering this question, you can identify what ‘mobility’ means to you and the investment associated. The gap should then be put in perspective of the available means of investment. But when it comes to priorities between all needs in the field of communications – mobility remains a top priority.
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