What does it mean to be mobile? This is not a very easy question for enterprises to answer. Workplaces have, for several years now, been at odds with employee devices. Should they be embraced or shunned? Allowed or actually supported? It has become increasingly clear that not only isn’t there anything stopping professionals from bringing their own smartphones, tablets and laptops into the office, but companies need to figure out how these tools fit into the overall picture of daily operations.
We’re only a little way into 2015 this point, and it’s expected that this year will be make or break for a significant number of businesses that haven’t yet gotten a handle on mobility. Accepting mobile devices in the workplace is one thing, but embracing them is another strategy entirely.
Challenges expected in the year ahead
Of course, mobile devices are a relatively new phenomenon. While cellphones have been around for quite some time, the smartphone has only been in the public eye within the last eight years or so. People seemed to quickly realize that their new tools had clear worth as professional assets and started using them in the office – something that IT teams were not prepared for, according to IT News Africa contributor Brendan Mc Aravey.
“When a business leader talks about ramping up an offshore workforce overnight, or providing access to a bank’s financial systems from iPads in the hands of roaming employees, or attracting top talent with a more consumer-style work experience, they should be able to take it for granted that the answer from IT will be ‘yes,'” Mc Aravey wrote. “But most organizations aren’t quite there yet.”
One of the biggest obstacles keeping enterprise IT back is security. According to Mc Aravey, things were a lot simpler when IT controlled every aspect of the devices that other employees used around the office. But now that staffers are using one device for both their personal and professional needs, management has gotten a little more complicated. Enterprises need to make sure that they are invested in mobile strategies that are aware of the need for separation between what the company owns and what’s none of its business.
Innovation must be front of mind
Mobility has something to offer every enterprise. The biggest question to answer here is how could an application streamline an existing process or practice? Smartphones have created a level of convenience never thought possible. The key to success is capitalizing off the improved user experiences that are possible through mobile interfaces.
This extends past new applications and means focusing on existing ones, as well. According to Information Age contributor Ben Rossi, part of the struggle with mobility comes from trying to look forward without losing sight of legacy programs. Chances are, software that’s currently in use is going to need some serious updates so that it can be most useful to the modern workforce.
“Mobile application platforms act as a conduit that can connect massive enterprise datasets directly to users, improving employee productivity and enriching the customer experience,” Rossi wrote. “However, most enterprise back-end systems were never designed to connect to mobile devices in this way.”
This is one of the biggest issues that companies will need to face in 2015. It will be important to make sure that existing assets are updated in ways that will allow them to be useful in the modern world.
Software investments will make all the difference
At the end of the day, most people in any given office are already going to have a device that they can use for work. The secret is finding the right mix of software that will help to maximize their effectiveness. Generally, these solutions are not going to be found ready-made, but must be built around the companies that need them.
Custom software solutions are the only way to go for mobile enterprises. Decision-makers have to understand that the definition of secure, useful programs is not the same in every instance. It will take a lot of planning and strategizing to ensure that custom software development is applied in the ways that make the most sense for a company that has its eye on success.