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The rise of device-enabled mobility in the workplace

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Forget waiting until you get to your desk before you can finish an email, draft a contract or print a presentation: we can now take our work with us wherever we go. In the next five years, the mobile phone promises to free us from our desks, help us work smarter and make us more productive.
“Two decades since the launch of the first web-connected mobiles, smartphones are now the most popular device for getting online. Their popularity shows no signs of slowing. Cisco predicts that global mobile data traffic will increase by 800 percent between 2015 and 2020,” says Nathan Nayagar, MD of Lexmark South Africa.
“As the mobile revolution gains momentum, the smartphone has begun to transform the way companies around the world do business. None more so than Google, which in 2015 updated its search ranking to prioritise mobile-optimised sites, before updating it further to make mobile search results more up-to-date than those retrieved on a desktop.”
Nayagar adds: “As smartphone pricing decreases and device intelligence increases creases, more organisations are beginning to explore the advantages of mobile working.” An IDC survey shows the percentage of employees equipped with a smartphone increased from 59% to 65% with the last year. A recent Economist Intelligence Unit survey found that businesses that proritied mobile devices and mobility showed a 16% boost in productivity, as well as increases in creativity and employee loyalty.
“This makes sense. With their tablet or mobile device in hand, an employee can go from meeting to meeting while keeping their finger on the pulse. And by being more flexible, organisations are hoping that workers will be more comfortable with their devices and therefore more productive.”
Nayagar believes it can also lower help desk support costs as employees who are more familiar with their devices will be less likely to seek tech help from their IT department.
These are few examples of why experts predict that three-quarters of the total workforce of Western Europe will be mobile by 2018.
Nayagar says: “Global mobile data traffic increased 63% between 2015 and 2016. But that’s not all – it’s changing the way we print too. According to Gartner, print jobs from mobiles and tablets have increased by 8% and 13% respectively. The benefits extend beyond increased productivity. In many cases mobile printing represents a freedom to print previously denied to employees whose jobs take place outside the traditional office.”
In many industries, such as hospitality or sales, staff go where their work takes them. While employees in these fields may lack access to a desktop, they often still need hard copies of documents. Sales professionals, for example, frequently need to print customer invoices while they’re on the go.
Traditionally, these mobile workers would need to install printers at each location they visited. But now they can use one of the growing number of mobile print apps. Apps such as Lexmark’s Mobile Print solution enable users to print from their nearest printer without the need to call IT.
“Mobile printing enables companies to make BYOD a reality. Employees can become more flexible in terms of where they work, when they work and how they work. This is particularly useful for start-ups and small businesses that need to reduce spending – and also for larger businesses that want to drive cost efficiencies,” Nayagar says.
“As a result, businesses expect their share of prints from smartphones and tablets to increase. An IDC surveyfound that mobile printing is due to rise from 20-21% to 28-30% between 2015 and 2018. This approach is clearly paying off. A recent report found that investing in mobile printing and scanning increased employee satisfaction by 38%.”
The workplace has changed dramatically over the past few years. The digital transformation has increased connectivity and made us more productive in the process. Mobile builds on this momentum, making it easier to access data, interact with colleagues and, now, print on-the-go. The introduction of smarter smartphones with more processing power has inspired more organisations to adopt mobile phones as a necessity rather than a luxury. And as the mobile revolution gathers pace, businesses around the world must ensure they foster an environment that unleashes the full power of mobile.