Year after year, more employees use their smartphones and tablets to work from beyond the office — whether from their living room couch or an airport terminal. Thanks to cloud computing and faster Internet connections, mobility has allowed employees to interact with corporate back-end systems at any time, from anywhere.
Mobility is all about responsiveness, productivity and efficiency. Many businesses are reducing their dependence on one workspace and enabling a mobile workforce to be productive wherever their work takes them.
However, for mobility to truly improve the workplace, you should define your business’ mobility strategy. After all, without a strategy, you may be not only be wasting money and duplicating efforts, but also putting your company data, business customers and long-term business goals at risk.
5 Steps to a Flexible Small Business Mobility Strategy
1. Define how mobility can meet business goals and outcomes.
Going mobile starts with the business, not the technology. A successful mobile strategy brings business and technology decision makers together so that everyone is on the same page and grounded by a common set of goals.
Many businesses will get half-way into a project before considering objectives, but it’s important that the big boss is just as involved as the IT department since they have the insights to identify desired business results that mobility will accomplish. Partner with your technology providers to ensure that business goals are accomplished through your technology from the very beginning.
2. Remember that data is the heart of mobility.
At its core, mobility is about information. In the excitement of going mobile, don’t forget that you need to understand what happens to the data that is being used on your employees’ mobile devices.
Some get caught up managing devices, applications, and content. But mobility at its best connects your business and gives you the ability to access, use and share information in the format you need it in — whether that’s paper or digital, video or text. One of the highest priorities should be the security and portability of your business’ data.
Include your provider in this conversation. They can ensure that you have the security and peace of mind you need for both your business and your customers, while still maintaining the flexibility you need.
3. Select technology with the user experience in mind.
Identify how a great mobile experience can help your business drive productivity and growth. To mobilize resources, you’ll need innovative tools and technologies to create a secure platform that doesn’t infringe on the intuitive user experience.
Develop and implement mobile apps that increase effectiveness, not slow down day-to-day operations. While security is inherently important, you have to think about the user convenience by choosing apps with the right features, such as Apple’s Touch ID and geo-fencing access at the office.
4. Choose the right tools for your budget.
Most small business have limited resources and IT dollars to develop custom apps, so it’s important for you to choose compatible “off the shelf” services. Plan for hidden costs such as tech support when migrating to mobile, phone plans and usage, data encryption between servers and devices, and mobile data security.
To implement a well-planned strategy, your budget may require you to prioritize needs and invest in the apps and tools that fit your business the best. It’s okay that your plan may require multiple phases to complete. Better to select the right tools over ones that don’t improve workflow or slow it down.
If you’re not sure what tools you might need, consult with your provider. They can set you in the right direction and lay a solid foundation for workplace mobility, as well as providing the unique support you’ll need regardless of the specific apps and platforms you’ll implement.
5. Communicate mobility's role in the workplace
Most people will adopt partial ownership of how mobile technology is used in the workplace since it is so ingrained in their personal lives. Define who has the responsibility to set mobility policies and decisions, so that the rules are clearly defined. Without processes and procedures, it will be difficult to maintain an effective mobility strategy for very long.
It is also important to consider that some employees may only know how to answer calls and send text messages. Spend time educating all of your employees to level the playing field and help them get the most out of the tools you’ve carefully invested in. Your employees won’t be more productive if they don’t know how to use them.
Keep dialog open about technology and workplace mobility. Once initial hurdles are overcome, you’ll find employees eager to explore the opportunities that your business’ mobility strategy offers.