Information Technology has been impacting the way businesses operate, but the essential nature of an employees’ work has largely remained unchanged. Within a business environment conducting work has typically involved bringing people together in a single physical location for a specified period of time to execute tasks. And historically this has been the only choice.
As new technologies take hold, SMB CEOs attitudes toward requiring people to be physically present are also changing. The basic connotations of “showing up for work” and “normal working hours” are changing. Today most businesses in established markets allow work from anywhere and anytime. With increased globalization, the physical place of work is shifting from office to homes and from conference rooms to airport lounges.
Telecommuting is becoming a norm regardless of the size of the company. If you do not have a formal telecommuting policy you should set up a task force to actively begin developing such a policy. Even if your business does not require it, your employees will demand it. And over the years it will be considered an important perk and differentiator in retaining and motivating employees.
Techaisle surveys show that SMB CEOs agree that allowing employees to work from home benefits their business and mobility solutions seem to not only have improved productivity, but also improved quality of work and redundant communication. 62 percent of businesses say that they see improved productivity as employees can work from anywhere and anytime. What is surprising that within some emerging market countries 40 percent of businesses mention that mobility is allowing employees to spend more time with family/less stress.
Shifting Communication Devices
While typical landlines were the formal mode of communication, today it is the ubiquitous smart phone that is taking over. Where VoIP was a nomenclature, today Skype and web-conferencing are becoming verbs. Emails will remain the predominant form of asynchronous communication; however, there is a massive shift of emails from PC platform to a smart phone platform.
SMBs of today should not only plan for such shifts but also find partners who are willing and have expertise to help implement new collaboration and communication solutions that are built around mobility.
What will make it difficult for the SMBs is the subtle insistence of employees to bring their own preferred device into the work environment from smart phones to tablets and other consumer-like applications. It took Apple (Mac) more than a decade to find itself accepted in a typical business setting but it will take only a few short years for today’s devices to proliferate.
Many SMBs still have not implemented a formal procedure to allow or not allow personal devices into work environment, not because they do not want to but they do not know how to. IT Vendors and partners can help in bridging that practical knowledge and experience gap by introducing real world examples and case studies. In fact SMBs should demand it of their vendor partners.
Device Management – an oft Ignored Priority
Going down the route of mobility is also fraught with unexpected surprises - most important being accidental loss of device with company data, employee walking off with device or malware creating havoc with the device. Many surveys conducted by Techaisle reveal that SMBs worry about these issues a lot but fail to protect themselves adequately. If you have embarked on the mobility journey make sure that device management is on the top of your agenda. For example, within the businesses those have begun adopting mobility, 69 percent of IT Decision makers in the mature markets and 72 percent within emerging markets are concerned about accidental loss of devices containing sensitive data. And nearly 1/3rd of these decision makers are also concerned about inability to manage device configurations so that they comply with company policies. To top it all, there is the issue of managing employee devices that businesses did not buy.
The need for device and data security for mobile devices may be an important deterrent in mobility adoption, especially as the consumer and business apps converge onto the same devices. However, this also clearly demonstrates the need for remote management, authentication, and remote erasure of data on mobile devices. Data no longer resides on tethered devices such as desktops but is spread across multiple devices that “move”. Plan for it and mobility will be an enjoyable and productive experience.
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