Technology

The magnitude of mobile – what every business needs to consider

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Tim Cook with an iPhone.

Transitioning to mobile can be intimidating for many businesses. It’s such an evolving beast that it can easily be put in the too hard basket.

As the chief executive of enterprise mobility company Empirical Works, I work with small and big companies alike to develop mobile solutions. Every day, I see the difficulties businesses face as they try to implement mobility at an enterprise level. While making the transition can involve a lot of time, money and change to process, the alternative is far worse. If you don’t keep up with the mobile trends, your competitors will—and you run the risk of losing business.

But while it’s difficult, it’s not impossible.

 

Mobile is not just an add-on

 

Implementing a mobile strategy for your business requires one key thing—a structured and integrated approach. For too long businesses have looked to tack an app onto the side of their business operations, but the reality is it needs to be integrated into the core business processes, and open to change.

It may be hard to remember now, but when businesses first began developing websites in the early 2000s there was a lot of doubt, fear and frustration. Questions regarding staggering set-up costs, maintenance, security, and fear of leaks through the internet plagued many management teams. Mobile is now viewed with similar frustrations.

With the expectation that most businesses should have a mobile presence, companies need to carefully consider not only how they will migrate, but also maintain their presence. Whether it’s a marketing campaign, ensuring a service that is available online is now on mobile, or enhancing an internal workflow process, thinking outside the box and considering the mobile experience will always work in your favor.

A common mistake I see businesses making when approaching mobile is employing the wrong people to roll out the project. An IT specialist or someone who has built award-winning websites is not necessarily the best person to roll out a mobile strategy. It requires a completely different approach. Enterprise mobility requires an understanding of the relationship between business requirements, mobile technology and enterprise infrastructure constraints.

There are now specialists who will independently review the day-to-day running of your business and advise the best enterprise mobility solution for you. Often it can be difficult for a business to take a step backwards and say ‘maybe we are doing this wrong’ or ‘how can this process be improved?’

 

Mobile is a way of life

 

Seeing mobile as an ‘addition’ to the website is also a dangerous way of working to implement mobile. Considering how we interact with mobile in every day life, our behavior is very advanced and ‘mobile-first’.

Australians, particularly, lead mobile trends globally and are very quick to adapt. No longer tied to desktop, our mobile use extends to countless facets of our life:  we check and respond to our emails, capture moments, socialise, consume news and browse the web courtesy of our phone.

It’s interesting because mobile behavior in our personal lives is so advanced, but when it comes to work, we revert to traditional methods. However, many businesses seem unwilling to consider such behavior away from the desktop.

You should be operating your business and engaging in behavior that mimics your personal life. If the majority of your personal planning, communication and entertainment is conducted via your smartphone, why should your work life be conducted in a completely different way?

Recent research reveals some staggering mobile statistics: 64% of corporate decision-makers read their email via mobile devices and 78% of Facebook users are mobile only.

 

The pros outweigh the cons for SMEs

 

Applying mobile thinking to business processes and adapting to this new and complex mobile ecosystem can be intimidating at the best of times. The hesitation to migrate to mobile can be put down to a number of things – resistance to change, staggering costs and adjusting administrative processes.

On the upside, there are tangible and immediate benefits to a mobile transition. Enterprise apps have been proven to increase worker productivity by more than 34%, with companies gaining an extra 240 hours on average per employee from mobile computing.

While small to medium-size businesses can feel intimidated to integrate mobile solutions and look to larger companies to lead the trend, they generally have the advantage of being less tied to clunky, out-dated and expensive infrastructures. 

Interestingly, many companies in developing nations have leap-frogged international competitors because they weren’t tied to antiquated mobile solutions and workplace processes. If you currently have little to no mobile implementation, view it as an opportunity to be more nimble, adventurous and open to improvement.

The beauty of integrating mobility solutions into business is you can accurately measure your ROI – whether it’s an increase in efficiency, a decrease in material costs or an increase in sales and profits. It’s an essential aspect of any competitive business and highly satisfying to see the positive implications and results, especially when efficient mobile solutions result in real savings.

 

Tips for transitioning to corporate mobile:

 

  • Don’t fixate on how mobile ‘should’ work for your company. The more flexible you are, the better the results will be.
  • Recognise the trend away from desktop. Mobile now accounts for a quarter of all web traffic. Consider how this move may affect your business in the future (employees, customers, clients) and start integrating this into your decisions.
  • Don’t think of an app as a project-based investment, but a business infrastructure investment. An app is not a standalone product but something that needs to be integrated into your business process.
  • Do your research! Talk to mobile experts and don’t be afraid to ask questions. The technology and approach is not your traditional digital marketing or IT.
  • Talk to your customers, talk to your employees and talk to any relevant stakeholders within the business. How do they interact with mobile?
  • Check out your competitors. It’s good to know what they’re up to. Look to successful companies and other industries. What are they doing with mobile, and what is applicable or relevant to your business?

Paul Lin is CEO of Empirical Works, an enterprise mobility company that offers consulting services.

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