The business landscape has changed immeasurably in recent years, driven by innovative new technologies which have resulted in the emergence of a generation of new, disruptive companies looking to challenge the status quo.
Businesses are being forced to move faster than ever before in order to keep up in an increasingly competitive environment. This means flexibility and agility are no longer just niceties for SMEs, they are necessities.
Dramatic improvements in mobile technology, such as increased power, performance and connectivity, have facilitated this agile movement. Employees are now able to work from anywhere, at anytime, on devices that they are familiar with and, thanks to companies such as EE, it’s easier to achieve than you might think.
More agile, more productive
Being as agile and flexible as possible offers many benefits to the modern SME. Embracing mobile initiatives and giving your employees access to a range of different devices such as tablets and smartphones, means your workforce can be become increasingly mobile and effectively work from anywhere, rather than being restricted to an office. IDC has estimated that three quarters of the Western European workforce will be mobile by 2018 and a recent survey found that seventy-two per cent of workers have claimed to be more productive when working mobile.
But it’s not just about the devices themselves. A fast and robust connection is also needed to help businesses and employees get the most out of mobile working. For example, EE provides the 4G network that’s 50 per cent faster than any other and now covers 95 per cent of the UK population, greatly reducing blackspots and thereby optimising productivity for businesses. But when you do encounter areas with poor signal, such as basement meeting rooms and the London Underground Stations, EE’s WiFi Calling enables employees to continue making and receiving vital business calls over the WiFi network.
Of course, all of these devices mean that security becomes more of an issue, but EE has taken care of that as well. One company that has been empowered to be as agile as possible is Crossbridge, a financial services consultancy firm which has a mix of permanent and temporary staff, resulting in a very distributed workforce. Crossbridge adopted MobileIron - a cloud-based service available through EE - to remotely secure and control its business-critical data, meaning it can focus on staying flexible without having to compromise on security.
Managing Partner Tony Clark explains: “We operate a bring-your-own-device policy within a strictly regulated environment to ensure data is completely protected at all times. And the business needs the flexibility to on-board and off-board projects effectively.”
Solving the people problem
One issue that SMEs often struggle with is having the right team in place in order to deal with the challenges of the modern business landscape. If you’re known as an agile business candidates will also be more likely to come to you and, thanks to the growth of online recruiting platforms, candidates now enjoy more control of the hiring process than in the past.
Employees now expect a certain level of flexibility in their working lives – and indeed have the right to request flexible working after six months of employment - which can be a powerful differentiator when it comes to both talent acquisition and, perhaps more importantly, talent retention.
Whilst being an SME in today’s digital world can come with a lot of uncertainties, one thing that’s clear is that businesses can’t afford to stand still. Simply put, focusing on agility and flexibility will make your business more competitive and, with EE providing the underlying network to make this possible, the time to act is now.
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