Many business owners are paralysed with fear when they contemplate the digital transformations they need to make. The thought of the tsunami of data raining down and creating chaos makes them cling to antiquated processes rather than embrace the future. But there’s no need to be afraid. Businesses can take control in the digital age if they develop a clear corporate mobility strategy to allow their staff to work on the go. There are lots of technical tools that can help, but the most important factor is a change of mindset. Most of the deep-rooted resistance to change in businesses has sociological rather than technological roots.
An effective enterprise mobility strategy requires strategic thought at the outset. It’s no use introducing iPads for everyone unless there’s sound business sense behind it. There are two key questions to ask: How will the mobile strategy help employees to up their game? How will it create new business opportunities by engaging customers? When setting the goals in answer to these questions, companies should not look more than a couple of years ahead. In the old, pre-mobile world, five-year strategic plans were the norm. But the name of the game now is agility, which demands swift reaction to a fast-moving mobile world.
“There is no need for businesses to be afraid of the future.“
Carrying out a digital transformation to reap the benefits of enterprise mobility can be a daunting task, but it can be easier than many expect. With clear planning and strategy, any business can boost corporate mobility to expand their company into the 21st century without huge investments.
Businesses need to consider which technologies will improve performance, either making life easier for customers, or improving productivity in personnel. A bank might decide, for example, that a mobile app which allows customers to cash cheques remotely will save them from time-wasting trips, as well as freeing up time for branch employees. An auto insurer might opt to introduce a mobile app that allows policyholders to report accidents on the spot. It’s important to decide who will make these crucial decisions about enterprise mobility.
It’s rarely a good idea for IT departments to make them in isolation because they’re unlikely to have the overall strategic vision required. One good option is to establish an Enterprise Mobility Centre of Excellence to sit between the IT department and business. It would have representatives from all areas of the organisation, including human resources, marketing and legal. The benefit would be to avoid the fragmented, siloed nature of a lot of company decisions around mobility. Ideally, it should take a holistic view of mobility and set up policies in everyone’s best interests.
One of the key decisions for the Mobility Centre of Excellence is whether to develop a native app, or a mobile site. Each solution has its pros and cons. Mobile websites are easy to build and don’t require downloads, meaning they appear to casual visitors, but they’re less attractive to regular users and go dark whenever there is poor internet coverage. Native apps tend to be preferred by regular customers and are available offline, but they need to be installed and are tied to specific devices. If a company chooses to build a native app, they must regularly update it with innovative, new twists. In the fast-moving mobile world, customers expect no less. Ultimately, whether to build a mobile site, or a native app, is a decision for the individual company. Whichever solution creates more agility is usually the way to go.
For most businesses it’s a good idea to allow Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to provide mobile users with access to back-end databases through their front-end mobile applications. APIs are windows into applications, which means they can put great power into customers’ hands. But businesses should beware. What makes APIs so valuable, is what makes them a security risk. Hackers can use them to break into servers. It’s not enough to stick with conventional security methods. The entire security strategy will need a rethink if a business is to make the most of APIs. It’s essential to secure the back-end integration and transactions between client and servers.
A mobility strategy has to be at the core of a company’s digital transformation. But installing a document management system (DMS) that stores and retrieves both paper and electronic documents is almost as vital. Old-fashioned manual processes just won’t cut it in today’s world. Not only will a software-based management solution reduce the need for physical storage space, but it will also reduce the time spent retrieving documents.
One PWC study suggests organisations lose 7.5% of all documents and that professionals spend a tenth of their time reading information and up to a half looking for it. Depending on the solution, a DMS can retrieve files in seconds using a phrase, or single word. Other advantages include easier collaboration with colleagues and other companies, and the opportunity to back-up paper documents in case of fire, or other disasters.
Most companies are aware of the need to integrate digital solutions. The most recent AIIM industry survey shows that four out of every five businesses say digital transformation is important, or very important to them, and that more than half believe they face serious disruption over the next couple of years. Yet, only one in five thinks they already have, or are close to getting, all the right strategies in place. Every company is now a technology organisation, regardless of the industry they work in. A well-defined mobile strategy should be the cornerstone of a company’s digital transformation. IT will lead them to make the right decisions about technology and, ultimately, they will become a more agile business.
Organisations stand to make significant gains from making mobile working an opportunity for their professionals.