Fact; the technology of business evolves. Calculators, to fax, to computer, to internet, to smart phone, to tablet; each new game changer had early adopters but most business choose to ‘wait and see’ if the new technology would truly work for business.
Going mobile is the current trend in business. Some just dip a toe in; they allow work e-mail to be linked to a personal smart phone. Some take the plunge and issue tablets to their employees equipped with an app version of their software*. The Apple store shocked the retail industry when they ditched the register because any and every employee in the store can sell you anything right from their phone or tablet. There is plenty of room in between these extremes. Business need to look at the risk and rewards for mobile technology and create a policy to guide employees and protect the company.
There are inherent risks with any system. The biggest risk is ignoring mobile technology!
1. Hackers and programs that will steal data or transactions. This is a common fear and can be addressed in a number of ways.
– Keeping data in a cloud accessed by a phone or tablet means little or no data is actually on the device. Using a secure link is also important.
– Creating a policy against unapproved 3rd party apps is another way to avoid malicious programs invading in the background.
2. Lost Device. Putting all your eggs in one virtual basket is a known risk. In the past flash or jump drives were used and thought ‘secure’, however, it is far easier to not notice you have lost a small drive than your phone or tablet. According to a 2004 study 40% of employees admit to losing a flash drive and more to leaving them unattended. Given that was 10 years ago the stats have surely changed but do you think for the better? Again, mobile technology easily allows a device to access data in a secure location.
– Use of a Mobile Device Management system (or MDM) can give additional peace of mind because a device can (often) be found and/or links to data severed if a device is lost.
Giving yourself or your workforce the ability to work anywhere, anytime, in the palm or your hand sounds too good to be true. We discussed some risks, here are some potential rewards.
1. Increased productivity and improved competitive position. These are the first things people think of when they hear “mobile productivity”. The ability to buy, sell, look up, confirm, deny, enter or track an order and endless other data driven tasks can be done, instantly, at the point of interface. The old “enter it later” method required double, if not more, work and as Six Sigma or Lean will tell us; things should be ‘touched’ a minimum number of times to avoid wasted effort or potential for error. The ability to complete the transaction in a moment is priceless.
– If employees do end up working after hours because of the ease of the technology that is gravy on-top of the ability to work faster and smarter during the work day.
2. Improve morale and Enhance work life balance. These are winners in any business because, as we all know, a happy employee is a good employee. Mobile devices are a nice ‘perk’ for the company and the ability to work around life is even more so. The US government has allowed telemuting since 2010 and has reported yearly on how this has positively changed the work environment.
3. Attract and Retain valued employees. For many workers these days salary is only one aspect of a position. Work environment is often more important because few people will stay even if they are well compensated. Mobile devices are one of the least expensive ways to entice and reward people, especially if it makes doing the job easier. Right now a smart phone or tablets is still a perk in most industries, however, laptops used to be a perk and now they are status quo.
4. Emergency preparedness. Do you have a plan for a natural disaster? The ugly truth of business is that the world will expect you to still work even if there is a fire/flood/plague of locusts. With mobile technology once the emergent risk is handled, business can often operate in a limited capacity (or better!) even in a disaster zone.
5. Savings for the business and the employee. Last but not least, the ability to work anywhere has the potential to save money. Depending on how mobile your business is, you might be able to eliminate a physical office or desk phones… The US Government published this chart for agencies reporting savings in 2011-12. They also consider working from home in these numbers (that is a post for a different day) but if the US government can do it you know you can too.
There are more risks and rewards that can be discussed but bottom line, most customers and employees now expect an increasing level of technology. The key to maximizing mobile technology is to create a plan, investigate and mitigate risks, and work to create a better business using the new tool. Handing a tablet to someone will not create great change – giving them a tablet with access and ability to work anywhere AND security to do so could be a beautiful thing.
By Kate Luthner exclusively for PGP Computers
For additional information on mobile business check out https://mobileworkexchange.com/, or, call us and we can talk you through it.
*check with your software provider, many now have free and secure apps