Making more of Mobile, making more of business smartphones
How businesses can take advantage of ‘What’s Next?‘
Unify Issue 03
It is the nature of technology that the future is always a bigger concern than the present. What we use today was developed years ago, and ever since its introduction, innovators have not just been thinking about what’s next, but what’s next after that.
In the communications sphere, the biggest “What’s next?” questions have centred on two tools: the internet and mobile telephony. In the case of the latter, a 20 year period has seen us move from making calls, sending texts and playing Snake, to having full communication, information and entertainment suites in our pockets.
The journey from the Nokia 3210 to the latest smartphone has been comparatively short, but wholly life-changing for the general user, as well as for business. However, it is an unfortunate truth that companies today are not making the most of their mobile capabilities, or indeed of the capabilities available in the general marketplace.
We know that the vast majority of employees have smartphones. But how well integrated are they with other crucial tech systems, like data and fixed-line voice? How do people secure their privileged data on these portable assets? And are their employers’ businesses using mobile in the most cost-effective way?
As mobile becomes the dominant business tool, these are the kind of questions companies and organisations need to be asking. Especially when, in a recent Forbes magazine survey of CIOs, mobile was identified as the most important business tool, and the one that will have the biggest impact on staff productivity.
Individual employees can cost their companies thousands in roaming charges
In response, the mobile platforms they use will have to become more manageable and furnished with far greater data insight, creating the conditions for efficient and responsible use of mobile technology.
That is how businesses will get more from mobile – and how they will be ready to take immediate advantage of the new “What’s next?”.
The mobile workforce
No organisation today would think about sending their representatives on the road without their business smartphones. The days of ‘out of office’ meaning no access to email, files, folders and apps are over. Yet of all the mobile costs 21st Century businesses must meet, data roaming is fast becoming the greatest.
It’s not just businesses with employees travelling abroad that run the risk of bill shock. Most now allow their staff to take their devices with them on holiday, so it’s understandable that many CFOs dread the August mobile bill landing in their inbox.
However, it would be wrong to think that the problem with data is usage. For most it’s more likely to be data management. Which tends to only go one of two ways.
Some companies favour an approach of absolute restriction, through either no roaming or a cap, beyond which the data connection stops. And transparent as that is, the likelihood of it garnering favourable sentiment from employees is low. People want to know that their employers trust them – and having mobile usage capped won’t help that sentiment. However, the alternative of unfettered data access can have unintended consequences, and there have been several examples of individual employees costing their companies thousands in roaming charges through the overuse of 4G.
With neither scenario ideal, a happy medium of corporate monitoring and responsible personal usage is emerging, based on three things: employee buy-in, board level desire to work better, and enabling tech.
The first requirement should be no problem. Any employee invested in their company’s long-term welfare is likely to support an idea that helps it to save money and become more efficient. Similarly, there seems to be an appetite for working with data in a better way. For instance, Gamma’s recent Connected Business research (for more on which, see page 17) discovered that 52% of businesses view ‘simplicity of management’ as critical to network performance. Until now, the piece that was lacking was effective technology to enable users and owners to monitor and moderate how much mobile data is getting used via business smartphones.
of businesses view ‘simplicity of management’ as critical to network performance.annual increase in data traffic in the UK with the increasing use of cloud services, video streaming and virtualisation alongside growth in video conferencing, collaboration tools and big data
48% of UK mobile users experience a lack of signal
With that in mind, Gamma has included a usage alert feature within its business mobile service. Sent via SMS and email, the alerts inform users and IT departments that a data cap is being, or has been, reached. The product was developed with the idea that businesses and employees should share the power to manage data – and by not cutting users off it enables the feeling of trust that must surely be a part of the future of wireless data.