Achieving a Mobility Master Plan
Author: Steve Mason
I recently presented at the Enterprise Mobility and Mobile Device Management conference in London, and wanted to share what I learned from speaking to industry experts and users.
Soon enough, the way we work on the move will simply be the way we work. I’m almost loathed to say mobile now, as we should be accepting it as a standard way of working. If you look at the way hardware and software is developing it is leading us down a path which will increase our ability to work in any place or style we want.
And why do I believe this? Well, the consumerisation of IT is everywhere. Work and personal phones are blending into one another, and more tablet technology means we’ll have devices converging our personal and professional lives onto single devices. If staff have the most cutting edge devices at home, but working on older equipment at work, they’re going to get de-motivated and frustrated. Businesses need to start thinking now about how our mobile culture can help benefit them.
We see it as a great opportunity to plan for the future. If we accept our workforces are going to be increasingly mobile, then we need to prepare for this seismic change in working practices. It’s a rare opportunity in business to capitalise on something we can all see coming, and an even rarer opportunity to plan it out. But it won’t happen overnight, and is why when considering mobility, businesses should very much be seeing it as a long-term investment.
Fail to plan, plan to fail
The first step in creating this plan is working out what you already have, and what you are likely to need and what your workforce wants. Every business is different, requiring differing services and solutions. Unfortunately, there is no catch-all answer for increasing mobility at your business. So, underpinning everything you do is to set the right objectives for your plan. You need to consider the environment in which you work, the nature of your business, and then hypothetically apply your plan to real life scenarios. From this, you will be able to distil the objectives you have for this project. It could be anything improving customer satisfaction, reducing the amount of paperwork for staff, or simply allowing more home working. What’s important is that you clearly define these objectives and work back from them. The specifics and details all fall out of getting this part right, so take your time.
With that in mind, it’s crucial you are realistic about what you are going to be able to achieve. At every stage of your project, you’ll be breaking new ground. Because of this, expect the unexpected. More than likely, you will be thrown off track. A big part of your plan should be to allow for bumps in the road and giving yourself the leeway to roll with the punches.
The hard work is in the software
It’s at this stage that you begin to consider the kind of software you are going to use. I always say to buy is better than to build. There’s a host of products already out there that are incredibly flexible and can move and change with your requirements. Going down the build your own route with applications means you are, by and large, tied into them. This doesn’t allow much wriggle room for the unexpected. Go back to your objectives and be clear about what outcomes you want. Get a sense about the products that can be used to achieve them. Things can and will change. That’s why to buy rather than build is always our advice. At this stage, I also believe it’s important to be device agnostic in your approach. Having a plan that negates being tied to one piece of hardware or software platform means you will be able to adapt as and when things happen.
Become gadget gurus
Having this in place means deciding upon the right hardware becomes relatively easy. Devices are changing on a near constant basis at the moment and new hybrid tablets and smartphones are coming. The best way to get a feel for the hardware you would ideally like to use is by having a good old play with them. At the planning stage, invest in a range of devices. Get a sense about which each one can offer, and then plan around the styles and feel you get from each, rather than the specifics and the exact functions. Having that basic premise of what you want from your device, along with an idea about the software you want is the ideal way of setting yourself up for the long run.
Considering all of this, it’s fair to say this is not going to be an easy project. Setbacks are inevitable, but having an acceptance of them will allow you to steal a march on your rivals. Putting in place the bedrock for building a business around mobility is one of the biggest challenges businesses face today. There is no golden ticket for getting it right, which is why we cannot put a product on the shelf, take it down, dust it off, and give it to you. However, by working out what you want to achieve with increased mobility, getting a general feel for where you want to arrive, you’ll be in a far better position to put in place what you need.