Business mobility is the business imperative that is driving as big a shift in business thinking as the Internet did 20 years ago. Indeed, the move towards it will define organisational strategy for years to come, and as with the Internet, there will come for each business a watershed moment – when they either adopt business mobility or begin taking on water, writes By Matthew Kibby, regional director: sub-Saharan Africa at VMware.
Business mobility or course refers to the use of mobile devices by employees and customers as the primary access to IT resources. From construction supervisors in the field, using tablets to manage assets, and capture and log labour hours, equipment hours, and materials used, to the salesman who logs into the network during a client meeting for real time access to the information needed to secure the deal – business mobility is changing the face of how we work.
As a tool for employee engagement, and used effectively, it can be the foremost means for an organisation to successfully engage with employees, increase their effectiveness and productivity, drive business change and growth, and guarantee not only survival but success.
To be successful however requires that organisations have a sound strategy in place, because there’s more to finding the right model for the business than simply getting the shiniest toys at the best price. Decision makers need to look beyond the technology and see business mobility for its ability to support and drive change, and to alter or reinvent their employee engagement models as the business evolves. The best business mobility solution for any business then, will be based on its ability to fulfil pre-determined organisational goals.
What’s the plan, Stan?
Organisations should start by thoroughly and critically assessing their employee engagement needs. The questions asked will depend on the nature, size, structure, and geographic spread of the organisation, but should focus on information flows and answering the ‘what’, ‘why’, ‘where’, and ‘when’ of those flows, before looking at the options available to fulfil the ‘how’.
The answers to these questions will moreover not only provide insight into where the company is now and where it wants to go, with respect to employee engagement practices, but also a roadmap for getting there.
Ultimately, the business mobility solution selected should provide the means to unlock new and better working practices that will solve these problems, fulfil these needs, and contribute to sustaining a flexible, agile culture.
What’s it worth to you?
In this process of finding the right business mobility solution, it’s important that having agreed on the goals, decision makers also agree on the value thereof, and not just the rands and cents value, but also the less measurable intrinsic value. It’s a given that down the line, the number crunchers will get involved and at that point it will be invaluable to be in agreement that the return on investment (ROI) goes way beyond the numbers.
So what kind of “intrinsic value” are we talking about? We’re talking about productivity gains that in turn drive new revenue streams or increase the level of business service. About an increase in staff morale and therefore staff retention, thanks to their now improved ability to find a better work/life balance using business mobility solutions to do so.
Intellectually we know that these gains impact the balance sheet, but it’s difficult, for example, to argue a causative relationship between the cost-savings being enjoyed on costly staff recruitment and the business mobility solutions driving the morale that’s keeping staff on board. These are the potential values that need to be understood upfront.
That’s not to say that organisations shouldn’t make every effort to measure the ROI of their business mobility solution, only that it should be agreed upfront that it would never be entirely possible to express its full value in numbers.
How do you know when you’re winning?
Not being able to express the total ROI in numbers doesn’t mean that at least some of the value can’t be expressed in terms of goal achievement. This pertains not only to attaining the information flow goals set at the outset of this selection process, but also to achieving desired, and defined, outcomes with regard to how success will look to senior managers and the overall workforce. After all, how do you know if you’re winning, if you don’t have the mechanisms to recognise success when you’re busy achieving it?
In whichever way the organisation’s unique business mobility solution selection process unfolds, and whatever it’s individual goals for that solution are, ultimately the implementation of a business mobility approach should help instil a culture of innovation, so that positive change can be initiated by anyone at any level of the organisation. From top to bottom, employees should feel free to engage in conversation with the IT department – bringing them feedback and new ideas for improvement, and this conversation should ongoing into perpetuity. Properly implemented and managed business mobility will be more than a solution to a company; it will become a part of its DNA.
Business mobility will take organisations to a level of workplace engagement that is unprecedented. It’s about empowering employees to work in the ways that work best for them across shifting teams and goals: it is the capacity to drive and respond to change.