Mobile workforce – less talking, more doing

By Daniel Newman, Co-CEO V3 Broadsuite and president of Broadsuite Media Group, Broadsuite

Mobility and the remote workforce are current hot topics buzzing around the modern day water cooler. There’s a ton of talk about the hows and whys of adopting these new approaches to conducting business. However, there is a considerable gap between what is being discussed in meetings, conferences, and webinars, and what is actually being done.

Enterprise Mobility Leaves a Lot to Be Desired

According to Accenture’s Mobility Insights Report, despite a healthy curiosity ad enthusiasm about a mobile workforce, most companies still have a lot to do in order to make mobility a valuable, core element of their business operations. The report found that less than half of businesses consider their overall mobile adoption to be effective. Eight out of 10 companies agreed they don’t have processes in place to identify, evaluate, and prioritize ways to leverage mobility for business benefits. The overall message of the survey was clear—organizations have much work ahead of them if they hope to meet a new set of demands, and tap into fresh opportunities created by the mobile workforce.

Dell’s Global Technology Adoption Index identified the lack of a cohesive strategy and security concerns as the biggest factors limiting mobility adoption for many companies. If you ask me, there’s one point these and several other contemporary studies are repeatedly trying to make: There’s a lot left to be desired in terms of making mobility a success in the enterprise. In other words, with so much friction between trends like BYOD and Shadow IT thwarting mobile workforce development, companies aren’t as quick to jump onto the mobility bandwagon as we may think.

The question remains, “Is mobility just a passing fad or an important business element worth taking risk for, given the countless potential security threats it brings with it?”

Mobility is Not a Choice, It’s a Necessity

First off, mobility is the new business reality, which demands a shift in the overall organizational culture. Everyone’s mind set has to change, from the shop floor on up to the C-suite. Many studies and surveys have established that mobility is not just a passing fad, in fact, it’s quite the opposite. It’s the key differentiator when it comes to business success, owing to its many benefits: Increased productivity, better employee retention and loyalty, reduced operations costs, and better remote collaboration capabilities. So it goes without saying, for organizations to perform and compete profitably in the modern business environment, mobility is an essential element that, if they choose to ignore, will eventually see them lagging behind their competitors.

The traditional organizational hierarchy where IT acted as the ruling overlord for everything tech is fast disappearing. While previously IT bureaucracy forced employees to wait days and often weeks for authorized programs and equipment, today’s employees have taken it upon themselves to choose and use the tools they know will get their work done faster and more efficiently. And, while doing so, they are happily pushing their IT departments to the side lines. Not a pretty sight for the CIO and IT leadership, but there are ways they can tackle the problems of Shadow IT and help their businesses reap the benefits of mobility.

IT Needs to Loosen the Grip in Order to Gain Control

We all know the saying that begins, “If you love something, set it free.” Shadow IT kind of works with the same principal. As opposed to IT having complete power over every technical aspect, CIOs must focus on building strategies that will help them bring the issue of Shadow IT under control. How can they do that? Here are few ways.

  • Understand what’s beneficial for the employees. A Frost & Sullivan report found the main cause of Shadow IT is employees’ dissatisfaction with IT-approved tech tools—tools that require steep learning curves, and often fail miserably when it comes to the ease-of-use people are accustomed to today. Therefore, instead of banning BYOD and productivity apps, CIOs must allow employees to use tools and solutions that will help them perform more efficiently, while also keeping a watch over privacy and security. Here’s how they can do that.
  • Develop policies and best practices without bottlenecking productivity and innovation. CIOs and IT departments must create security protocols and policies clearly defining what’s allowed, and what isn’t. Oftentimes, employees are not even aware such policies exist in their workplaces, so it’s vital to educate them through training and other programs.
  • Shoot for leadership and cross-functional collaboration. Without a clearly articulated strategy and a true investment in your workforce, mobility is merely being done in silos and often without IT or other management seeing the same vision for successful mobile deployment. This is why all the spokes of the leadership wheel must come together with all department heads at the hub, to build a mobility strategy that’s tied to the overall goals, objectives, and long-term strategies of the organization.

Companies need to embrace mobility because it enhances productivity, knocks down barriers to hiring and customer acquisition and, at the same time, has the potential to improve employee and customer satisfaction. With clear goals and a more open approach toward new enterprise IT trends, CIOs will be better positioned to make it possible for their organizations to finally talk less and do more in terms of adopting mobility.

Additional Resources on this Topic

Increasingly Mobile Workforce Top Five Workplace Trend: New Report

Build the Mobile Apps That Your Workforce Actually Wants

Mobile: Changing Communication As We Know It

This post was written as part of the Dell Insight Partners program, which provides news and analysis about the evolving world of tech. Dell sponsored this article, but the opinions are my own and don’t necessarily represent Dell’s positions or strategies.

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