First it was desktop computers. Clunky, rooted, desktop computers.
Then came laptops (which several customer service representatives have informed me are no longer called laptops, hence the extreme heat felt while using the computer on my lap was my own misuse of the tool and not a defect of the battery. But that's a story for another day).
Then came smartphones and not too long after tablets, many of which belonged to the employee. A much abbreviated timeline of employee's computer workstations, sure, but suffice it to say that companies still struggle with how to meet employee expectations for mobile.
Rocky Mitarai, senior product marketing manager for Adobe Connect, took some time out to explain where the potential lies when you provide workers with the right technology and why mobile should no longer be treated as a second-choice.
Global, Mobile and 24/7 Workforces
Fagan: What are the biggest drivers pushing the enterprise to be mobile?
Mitarai: We are definitely seeing mobile usage grow across enterprises. One of the drivers is the growing breadth of features and functionality available on smartphones and tablet devices. In line with this trend, people are becoming used to using their mobile devices in their own personal lives for email, social media, viewing videos, collaborating with others and many other specific uses. This has led to the (bring your own device) BYOD phenomenon and raised expectations in the workplace that these types of activities — typically done on the desktop — should be able to be done directly from a mobile device.
In addition, one of the things we’ve observed is that mobile devices are no longer seen as a second-choice, feature limited experience to engage in certain activities (especially collaboration or training). The expectation is to be able to use the mobile device as the go-to option, with all of the features and functionality found on the desktop, in an experience tailored for mobile use.
Fagan: What benefits do businesses receive from a mobile workforce?
Mitarai: It depends on how a mobile workforce is defined — and there are a number of technologies that are available on mobile devices that can be used for business. One of the biggest trends is that it is becoming less common for workers to be in the office from 9 to 5. Sales teams are on the road or at client sites and workforces are global, meaning that business continues 24/7, with teams dispersed across time zones.
A mobile workforce, with the right technology, can help facilitate information exchange and connectivity across the enterprise and external teams to address this trend – with the key benefit that productivity does not lag despite the fact that workers are not all in the office or in front of their computer at the same time, but likely have their mobile device handy. Another common scenario is that workers may need access to insights, content or information to complete their job, but are not sitting in front of their computer. Technologies that enable them to access this information quickly and securely from their mobile device help ensure that they can get their job done more efficiently.
Fagan: Do mobile options benefit the employee and if so, how?
Mitarai: Employees can benefit in several ways — related to the above, the ability to effectively collaborate and connect with others without being in the office enables employees with more flexibility. For employees who travel or spend time in the field, being empowered with the right tools to access information (perhaps training), join a virtual meeting in progress, or get work done more conveniently from their mobile device can help reduce downtime — and get things done that would otherwise need to be taken care of when they are in front of a laptop.
In addition, for those that are in the office, it is often commonplace to be attending a variety of meetings throughout the day, and lugging a laptop from conference room to conference room. With the right capabilities, a mobile device can take the burden away from lugging around the laptop, enabling things like sharing and presenting slides, or annotating on a shared document with a finger or stylus.
Fagan: What other trends do you see crossing over from the consumer mobile world to the enterprise?
Mitarai: In addition to what is noted in my first response, another trend we’ve observed is that workers are comparing the mobile experiences of business mobile apps to the rich, high quality experiences that are available with popular consumer apps – such as Netflix or YouTube. As mobile usage in the enterprise increases, there is an immediate expectation that business applications match this level of quality from a functional as well as a UI perspective.
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