Embracing enterprise mobility and creating a remote workforce can provide organisations with powerful competitive advantage, says Thuthuka Mhlongo, portfolio manager: End User Computing at T-Systems in South Africa.However, transitioning from traditional fixed-office environments, to more dynamic, mobile workplaces, often becomes a mammoth task. Too many enterprise mobility initiatives fail to achieve true adoption or yield business outcomes – largely because they are not developed in the correct manner.
To achieve a dynamic workplace, the rollout of various technologies needs to happen in a phased manner. Most importantly, the organisation needs to identify and address the various forms of resistance that it will encounter from those employees unsettled by a change in the way they work.
Getting the phased approach off to the right start is crucial. Jumpstart sessions help the organisation to understand their current systems, their state of readiness for mobility, and determine the existing assets that can be leveraged. These sessions also give business and technology leadership the chance to define their enterprise mobility vision. From there, the roadmap can be developed and specific tactical steps committed to.
This phase also generally involves convincing executives of the importance of mobility. Return on investment (ROI) can be proven in a variety of ways – from licensing consolidation and better usage, to enhanced staff productivity, decreased office rental costs, increased flexible working hours, and faster processing within the organisation.
By emphasising the financial benefits, business leadership/executives become more supportive of the mobility programme – which becomes vital when looking to achieve widespread adoption later on. Mobile policies need to be drafted to help guide users and ensure compliance. Based on user profiles the organisation may distribute, monitor and determine what systems may be accessed, and draw device use parameters.
It is important that the mobile policy draws a distinct line between personal and work style personas. The policy framework will covers everything from application mobilisation, management, distribution and secure access. It looks into how content is managed when accessed from mobile devices. In terms of security, the organisation needs to determine what trigger events will cause flags to be raised, how these incidents are managed, and how to mitigate the risk of data loss and privacy leaks.
When it comes to the adoption, the term “phased” can apply into two general areas: firstly, identifying and phasing in the number of business critical services to mobile tasks that can be accessed remotely; and secondly, by phasing in various user-groups in sequence and ensure service discover and adoption. Trying to achieve enterprise-wide adoption all at once creates complexity and is unlikely to work.
The ideal approach is to identify those individuals, and those areas of the organisation, that are most “primed” for mobility, and begin the rollout there. By constantly evangelising the end-user experiences, and the myriad benefits of embracing this new way of working, the organisation starts to achieve something of a ‘centre of excellence’. Other individuals and business areas naturally gravitate towards the centre and find out how they can get involved in the mobility programme. This ensures faster, smoother, and more pervasive adoption.
Contrast this with an approach where people feel they are being forced to change, without fully understanding the benefits, and the differences become clear. The pace of the adoption also depends to a large extent on the nature of the enterprise.
Certain departmental areas lend themselves a faster uptake of mobility solutions – such as sales, field force and contractor based workers. In other types of businesses – which may be more traditional in their approaches – the transition may take longer. As tangible results start to materialise, and as users become increasingly comfortable with a more flexible working environment, the rollout should start to spread throughout the organisation. As the final remaining “hold-outs” (or “laggards”) feel increasingly isolated and so begin to embrace the new way of working, a state of enterprise-wide adoption is achieved.
Now, the attention turns to evolving the mobility strategy – ensuring the organisation is able to capitalise on various types of mobile technologies (such as QR codes, augmented reality and device sensors ), while it remains protected against the ever-shifting security threats, and that users are able to operate in increasingly-agile environments.
Often the changes that take place go deeper into the organisation than merely the surface-level, enabling technology. Systems and processes often need to be adjusted to accommodate mobility. Sometimes an entire overhaul of the fundamental organisation architecture is required. The transition to mobility often leads to structural shifts in the management of the organisation – redefining business units and reporting lines, and changing the culture of the organisation. However, by taking the right approach – a phased approach – to creating a dynamic workplace, leadership is able to navigate the organisation through these issues. The result is a more productive, empowered and mobile workforce – and a more tech-savvy and competitive company.