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Finding the Middle Ground Between Mobile Employees and IT

Finding the Middle Ground Between Mobile Employees and ITExecutive leadership and IT eye mobile technology as a meaningful way to empower their workforce, enticed by the long list of benefits such as higher productivity and faster decision making. Human connectivity is a big draw as well — the increased personal communication creates a closer sense of community and excitement from working collaboratively leads to inspiration, innovation and a greater sense of engagement.

Gartner estimates that mobile device shipments will reach 2.5 billion units this year, up nearly 7 percent. According to the Enterprise Mobility Exchange, mobile applications look to be one of the top investments in 2014 for enterprises. With these numbers and others pointing to the mobile trend in the enterprise, why isn’t every company managing a successful mobile strategy? What’s keeping them from fully embracing a mobile strategy and enabling their workforce to thrive?

The Simple Truth

BYOD is here to stay. Being able to use your own mobile device for business is part of a workstyle shift that’s creating a better way to do business. Even with companies that continue to provide phones and tablets, the reality is that most employees already use their own mobile devices for work. They want to work smarter and more efficiently. They want the ability to access and share at-the-moment information anywhere, anytime and without delay from their mobile device of choice. And they want to do it simply and in a way they are used to — just one phone, for example, that offers seamless access to their personal content as well as their work emails, calendar, files and applications.

Houston, We Have a Problem

Challenges exist as companies establish best practices for their mobile workforce and set policies for BYOD. Not surprisingly, one of the most common challenges in this effort is with security.

IT has to set detailed BYOD policies and access requirements in order to safeguard the corporate data on these devices. Necessary, yes. But then the workforce gets lost in a sea of complexity when they attempt to navigate through the steps to register their devices. And here’s where the struggle begins.

For users, being mobile is all about the experience. For example, they might want to quickly access customer information before a meeting. But if the process of getting past the security wall and into the network is problematic, or the interaction with the company’s mobile business application is awkward, time runs out and the opportunity is lost.

An overly complex process or a detailed learning curve that stalls information access causes user frustration. And the more frustrated users get, the greater the chance they’ll quit trying. Or, perhaps worse, they’ll go around IT to find their own way to access the information. Each scenario lowers user adoption and loyalty, which are needed for the company to continue supporting the platform.

Meet in the Middle

If the BYOD policies and security processes set by IT don’t take the user experience into consideration, there’s a big disconnect with usage and workforce satisfaction. The solution to consider: Find a middle ground that addresses IT’s need to ensure security and gives users an acceptable experience.

To get to a middle ground, communication between IT and the workforce is essential. Starting with IT spending time with users to understand how they’re willing to and/or want to use the mobile platform, exactly what they’re accessing and sharing, how often they’re doing it, and to what extent. IT can then determine the right amount of security but find the balance that also addresses the user experience.

On the application front, companies should clearly delineate the purpose of each mobile application so employees know what to open for what purpose. This eliminates the guessing game and gets the user to the targeted information right away.

Connected for Success

Improving how your workforce navigates through mobile can greatly increase the adoption, loyalty and success of your mobile strategy. In these examples, meeting in the middle with security and creating easy accessibility to applications help employees drive business in new and increasingly effective ways. And they’re more engaged and connected to the business due to the collaborative environment.

Managing these challenges may require some change, but as with any meaningful strategic workplace transformation, if the end state results in a positive shift, increased productivity and corporate growth, the outcome will be well worth the effort.

Title image by Jan Jacobsen (Wikimedia) via a CC BY 3.0 license

About the Author

Anuj is the head of mobile at Jive Software, where he is helping drive the adoption of enterprise collaboration software across iOS and Android devices. He comes from a consumer background and has a passion for products that are user-centric designed. You can follow Anuj at @anuj_verma.

 
 
 
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