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The old saying goes you have to spend money to make money. While this notion might seem antiquated in today’s ultra-budget conscious business environment, it wasn’t always that way. Think back to the early 80s—companies invested millions on desktop computers knowing it would make their employees more productive, their companies more competitive.
So why hasn’t this happened with mobile? Part of the problem is legacy. When mobile phones arrived on the scene, they were seen as a cost of doing business, not as a way to transform business. After all, mobile phones simply allowed employees to do something they could already do–make a phone call. But that has all changed. With smart phones, tablets and powerful mobile apps, mobility is “The New IT”. Giving employees access to all their work and personal data—anytime, anywhere and from the device of their choosing—is truly transformative. In fact, Gartner has identified mobility as one of the key emerging trends that better positions enterprises for competitive advantage.
So while there is a pressing need to eliminate ‘bad spend’, there is an equally compelling argument for increasing your mobility spend. International Data Corporation estimates that 37 percent of the world’s labor force, or 1.3 billion workers, will identify as mobile workers by 2015. This massive shift represents a real opportunity to increase productivity. But how can you drive top line and bottom line growth by increasing what you spend on mobile? Here are five ways:
1. Add tools beyond smart phones. Smart phones have been shown to increase productivity—by a lot. Not convinced? Consider these numbers we’ve seen at Visage, where we analyze the mobility spend of our enterprise customers. On average, they spend $120 a month on mobility for each employee—that’s $4 a day. At the same time the most recent iPass Global Mobile Workforce Report study found that the average mobile-enabled employee puts in an extra eight hours a week. But there’s room for improvement. By further increasing mobility with tools like tablets, air cards and MiFi you can remove remaining productivity limitations.
2. Mobilize more work applications. Spend time and money researching and purchasing off-the-shelf apps to improve workflow and productivity. Where there are gaps, invest in additional IT resources to make your own apps. Think beyond mobile email and mobilize CRM, field force and travel and expense management applications so that your employees can work wherever, whenever they want.
3. Mobilize more people. Sure it makes sense to equip your sales reps and executives with smart phones, but what about other job functions, where the benefits might be less obvious? Admin staff, customer service reps, marketing – these jobs are no longer tied to a desk or a 9 to 5 schedule. In retail, equip cashiers with mobile devices so customers can pay on the spot rather than wait in line. Push mobility down the organization so that every employee can interact and transact their business in real time to create more efficiency and eliminate delays in communication.
4. Mobilize things. Chances are you’ve heard of the Internet of Things but what does it mean to your business? While much of the talk has been focused on how the Internet is linking consumer devices like thermostats or cars, there are many business cases for linking mobile devices to other computer systems and devices to make them an extension of your enterprise and mobile computing environments. A vending machine sends out an S.O.S to the nearest delivery truck driver when it’s running out of M&Ms. Your corporate travel application alerts your mobile device management solution when one of your employees is set to leave on a business trip overseas and modifies the employee’s mobile package to avoid $3000 in roaming charges.
5. Use mobility as a recruiting tool. Workers understand the value of their time and knowing that your company will let them arrange their work around their life is a perk. Savvy companies are incorporating mobility into their recruiting arsenal, offering MiFi so employees can work on the bus ride home or clear emails from the airport; mobile devices to check email in the morning without carrying a laptop home; tablets to watch training webinars on the treadmill at the gym. 401ks and long-term disability coverage are great for the over 40 set, but if you want to attract the best and brightest millenials, you better start thinking like they do.
While the urge to cut spending looms large, when technologies are truly transformative, it makes sense to invest. In the end, it’s not how much you are spending, it’s how you are spending that matters.
Mani Zarrehparvar is president of Visage, overseeing operations, product development, strategy, engineering, finance and marketing for the enterprise mobility management company. He has a keen understanding of mobility market trends having held senior product leadership positions at AT&T and Asurion.