Going mobile: Steps to fostering enterprise mobility in the 21st century workplace

Through the rapid development of technology over the last decade, we have seen a significant, industry-wide change in many business practices across the board. One such change has been the shifting attitude towards enterprise mobility, as a result of increasing number of mobile computing devices being made available to masses today. Last year, Gartner predicted a 50 percent increase in sales of smartphones and tablets in 2013, with nearly 1.2 billion units expected to be sold by the end of the year.

A wealth of potential
With so much of convenience available today, especially in terms of connectivity, it has become easy for firms to tap into the benefits of fostering a mobile workplace. For example, equipping employees with mobile computing devices enable them to be connected to their work even when they are on the road, allowing them to respond to unexpected changes in business situations around the clock. A well-supported mobile environment can also generate increased efficiency and productivity, particularly with this new generation of technology-savvy employees who are joining the workforce. Ultimately, a productive workforce entails improved customer services, builds good reputation, and generates more revenue for businesses.

In my experience, adopting company-wide policies on mobility requires a fair bit of careful planning and strategising, to iron out any potential problematic areas. There are a few important considerations companies must take into account if they are to implement a successful mobile policy and enjoy the benefits above. They include:

Understanding the needs of employees
When implementing a policy which will affect employees directly, it is important to involve them in the decision-making process from the upstart. This will enable decision-makers to have a better understanding of the daily challenges faced by their employees. These insights will play a crucial role when selecting the right kind of enterprise mobile devices for the organisation.

An employee whose day-to-day scope of work involves plenty of outdoor interactions, particularly in rough environments like oils or construction sites, would be better off with a mobile computing device that is sturdy and durable in such environments. For example, Panasonic Toughbook’s line of fully ruggedised tablets would be a good fit to this employee’s needs as the device offers all of the functions of a normal tablet but is also designed to survive in harsh outdoor conditions.

Start small
Instead of taking the plunge and rolling out large-scale, company-wide policies to support a mobile workforces, businesses should start in phases. They can do so by implementing mobile strategies on a departmental scale first. For example, since the procurement of mobile computing devices can be cost-intensive in the short run, bulk buying devices at the start will not be very efficient. Different enterprises have different computing needs and special consideration must be taken when deciding which device would be most suitable for employees at a particular company.

By purchasing mobile computing devices and implementing mobility policies in one department, companies can then assess the success and pitfalls of their strategy, identifying elements that work and determine those in need of modification. This is important because transitioning to a mobile environment requires many structural changes within the organisation and may involve some initial costs – hence, it would be more fruitful to first establish policies which work before going for large-scale implementation.

Train your mobile users
Training schemes are crucial in a mobile work environment. With technology evolving every day, it is important to keep your employees up to date with the latest tools and software available in the market so they are able to use technology to its full potential. For example, when a company acquires new mobile devices for its employees, they have to schedule regular training sessions to let their users familiarise themselves with the new devices.

Holding training schemes should not just be for hardware but also software. Today, there are a range of new tools and software available that fosters a mobile environment. Companies looking to reap full benefits of a mobile workplace should ensure their employees are adequately trained in handlings these array of tools in their daily scope of work. By having proper training schemes in place, companies are also less likely to face resistance from its workforce when trying to implement policies promoting mobility.

Looking ahead
Enterprise mobility will continue to play a crucial role in the business landscape in the future.. Implementing the correct policies, by factoring in the considerations mentioned above, is the first step towards fostering a mobile environment. As we become more reliant on our mobile devices to compute day-to-day tasks at work, companies will have to also look into the type of mobile devices they purchase for their workforce. I believe mobile computing devices should be light weight, with high-quality, ergonomic designs, and rugged enough to withstand daily rough use in any type of environment. With the right policies and the correct types of mobile devices in place, businesses will be able to make a smooth transition towards a highly mobile, productive workforce.

Satoshi Mizobata, Director, Toughbook Asia Pacific Group, Panasonic