It used to be that we imagined that our mobile phones would be for us to talk to each other. Now, our mobile phones are there to talk to us.
– Sherry Turkle
Next time you’re on the train, in the mall, or anywhere else where people congregate, look at what they are doing. Odds are, you already know. Many of them are peering into the screens of their mobile phones. The funny thing is, it’s rare to see people actually talking on them anymore. As access to social networks and global information grows, the smart devices have transformed from mobile phone receivers to multi-purpose communication tools. In 2017, Statista forecasts that more than 63 percent of mobile phone users will use their mobile devices to access online content.
This trend has not gone unnoticed in the corporate world. Workplaces are becoming decentralized and more business interactions are taking place outside of the office. As a result, companies are looking to mobile devices as a reliable and portable connection between employees and corporate information. Security concerns and the need to ensure a stable IT environment forced many businesses to move cautiously, but the direction is clear. A survey by the research firm IDC found that 65% of enterprise organizations plan to increase their mobility spending in 2017. The support of mobile devices and applications in the enterprise signal that corporate strategies continue to focus on helping employees operate effectively both inside and away from the corporate office.
Anything you can do, I can do better…
Mobile expectations are high. As consumers, we already use our devices to access the Internet, listen to music and videos on-demand, organize our lives and maintain a higher level of personal productivity and efficiency. As employees, we demand the same experience with mobile work tools – anything we can do at the office, we want to do better, faster, and easier wherever we are.
For instance, imagine being on the road and being able to review and approve a client contract, and then instantly send it out to your legal team. This process used to take days to perform, with many faxes, delays and confusion over which version was most current. Enterprise content management software makes the job easier, but operating such a powerful application typically required access to the desktop… a tough ask for sales and management teams spending more time traveling to clients and business partners. Integrating document management into the mobile experience puts robust functionality at people’s fingertips – and provides the freedom to take action on important tasks as soon as the need arises.
Sure, that’s greater productivity for employees of the firm, but even more, it opens up the opportunity to accelerate the closing of business deals and the generation of revenue. When time really does equate to money, mobile business applications matter… and complete functionality across devices makes the difference.
Picking a platform
When you dive into mobile device distribution for your employees, you’ll probably choose a specific platform to maintain a consistent technology presence throughout the company. Which mobile operating system should you choose?
Interestingly, the operating systems created for consumer mobile adoption are also the best bets for enterprise deployments. This includes Android, with an 82.8 percent market share, and Apple iOS, with a 13.9 percent market share (IDC, August 2015). These operating systems offer excellent security capabilities to protect data and devices against theft and misuse. In addition, they offer superior development environments that provide mobile application software developers with the programming standards and integration processes to create full-featured software solutions that are intuitive and easy to use for mobile users.
There are some platforms that, to date, have effectively been left behind. Windows Phone and Blackberry, although premier names in enterprise technology, were latecomers to the mobile explosion, and they fell short in their ability to create business-capable platforms. (Windows Phone is steadily losing market share, and Blackberry is now releasing devices using Android.) Amazon Fire built a tablet-based operating system that reportedly had some promise for enterprise development early on. However, more recently, Amazon has been eliminating enterprise functionality such as its data encryption and device lock-out. Fire is now considered to be solely a consumer entertainment platform.
The time is right to hone your mobile workforce
Whether you are thinking about building in-house mobile applications or delivering third-party enterprise productivity apps to your employees, there’s no better time to get started. The industry has matured to give IT departments greater confidence in choosing a technology direction, and the proliferation of quality commercial software applications justifies strategic investments. Today’s workers expect the flexibility to work from anywhere. They want immediate, 24/7 availability of tools, resources, data and information in order to improve decision-making, prioritize their time and improve the customer experience.
Just consider how the right document presented at the right time can change the trajectory of a competitive sales call or help your product teams raise the bar on innovation. Mobile applications offer tremendous business value and virtually limitless opportunity. What are you waiting for?