The future of enterprise mobility

The age of the desktop PC is over! The new era centred around our smartphones is already a reality. Typing and clicking will soon be like mixtapes: a memory of another generation. Mobile has already surpassed the PC when it comes to Internet usage.

While the enterprise market has lagged behind in this new era of mobile, the industry will soon begin to catch up in a big way.

Gartner predicts that, by 2017, half of all employers will have instituted mandatory bring-your-own-device policies, which will then result in a major increase in the presence of mobile in the workplace. In fact, by 2020, mobile employees will likely make up seventy two per cent of the American workforce.

Employees, not employers, will increasingly become the arbiters when it comes to determining which technologies are 'deployed' in the enterprise (and employee demands won’t involve a big fat box on their desks). As the revolution has already begun, it's important for enterprise companies to get involved in the process of making work better while there's still time.

Picking up enterprise speed

Some say it will be a few years before mobile fully takes over the enterprise space, but I am not so sure. The transition will definitely pick up the pace throughout the year. Here are four advances in mobile enterprise that will affect employee usage and mobility in 2016 (and what they'll mean for your business):

Mobile moments

When incorporating enterprise mobility, one of the biggest obstacles businesses face is a lack of user-centricity. The philosophy behind mobile is fundamentally different from traditional big-screen behaviour, so all-in-one software solutions from the desktop world have consistently failed to translate to the smartphone.

Formerly complex activities will need to be sliced up into easy-to-digest fragments that can be consumed, processed, and executed in a very short amount of time — we're not talking minutes, we're talking seconds. Many of these moments of productivity will manifest themselves in push notifications for a variety of tasks, such as basic approvals, key performance indicators, and inventory levels.

Aggregated experiences

App fatigue is a real problem — many organisations are drowning in too many little apps that fail to gain traction with employees. Not every enterprise tool can or should have a mobile channel. In most cases, the use case can be aggregated using a phone’s operating system (OS) or a dedicated mobile app. This is a trend that is already visible, but it will accelerate through 2016.

Appropriate security

The days of IT control over every device in the workplace are numbered. Instead, we'll see an 'appropriate security' philosophy emerge that addresses security on a very granular level — a more fitting approach for personal devices like the smartphone. Mobile OS and app providers will lead this charge, and standalone security providers will need to either evolve with the times or cease to exist.

Personalisation

The PC on a desk or laptop in a bag have been replaced by a phone in our hands and — for some of us — a wearable on our body. The closer technology gets to us, the more personal it will become. The more personal it becomes, the more it will help us prioritise.

How to make these trends work for you

While these trends will be widespread in 2016, it's important for your business to not pursue progress for its own sake. Successful implementation of enterprise mobility requires a focus on employee user experience that doesn't always come naturally to traditional IT departments. There are two basic principles to keep in mind when looking toward the future: employee engagement and employee empowerment.

Employee engagement

Also known as the willingness to work, employee engagement needs to be a core priority — especially if you have finite resources. Employees who love their work and understand the cause of the organisation are almost always more engaged.

This can be achieved by communicating directly, reaching all employees with relevant information, and providing an environment where people feel connected. No platform is better suited to support this than mobile. For many, the phone is not a tool — it's an extension of self. Embracing mobile in this regard can result in improved motivation, employee participation, and corporate reach. All of this is thanks to the improved two-way communication that mobile provides.

Employee empowerment

Mobilising a process only adds value if you empower your people to do things more efficiently. Review all of your mobile projects and ask: "Is this allowing my field workers or salespeople to take extra customer meetings? Is this improving a KPI?"

The mobile platform has the potential to eliminate massive inefficiencies in workflows, transaction times, and standard operating procedures — but you have to keep these things in mind in order to take full advantage of its potential.

In every success we've seen in enterprise mobility so far, there's been one major recurring theme: a company’s ability to take something that was once complex and present it in an easy, convenient way to its people. Employees are willing to adopt new technologies if they come in a form they're already familiar with.

Don't view mobile as just another piece of technology! The truth is that businesses should be looking at it as a new way of life — a change in our environment with the potential to be as significant as the invention of the wheel. And that change will be felt in both the consumer and enterprise realms. It's up to you whether you want your business to pioneer this new frontier or trail along behind it.

Daniel Kraft, President and CEO of Sitrion