Going Mobile: Steps to Get You Started
The rapid spread of mobile technology is one of the most significant technological developments of the past ten years. It's a trend that's likely to continue, too, and we can expect to see more and more "mobilization" of work activities as people spend more time away from the office. It's changing the way people work.
In the beginning, mobility was a matter of extending email and the Web to mobile devices, typically with laptop computers. Now it's come to imply real-time access to business applications and information, right from the users handheld device. It's about finding better ways to communicate and staying connected with customers, employees, families and friends. Companies that have an effective mobile business strategy will have an edge on the competition; developing such a strategy means looking at work processes and finding tasks that are best suited for mobilization.
Start by looking at your business from the process side, not the hardware side. Understand how your employees work, and how they work most productively. Expecting people to change their working habits in order to go mobile is unrealistic, and making that mistake will cause nothing but problems in deployment. The latest and greatest gadget isn't going to mean anything if it doesn't connect with the way people work.
Consider the tasks your employees need to complete, as well as when and where they need to complete them. Don't try to mobilize everything all at once, but focus on mobilizing the things that will actually improve workflow. Is there something that's now done in the office that would make more sense if it were done in the field? Customer support tasks, perhaps, or order placement are good candidates for mobilization. If you pick the right tasks and move them out to remote devices, mobilization can actually help integrate multiple back office systems into a single mobile application.
Remember that there's a difference between workstation applications and mobile applications. PCs have larger screens that can display more information, as well as faster processors, more memory and more local storage. Simply providing mobile access to a PC-style application isn't enough. Mobile applications need be optimized to make the most of what a hand-held device can do in terms of display, input, memory and storage. There are third party applications available for all the most popular smartphones and PDAs, so you may be able to find what you need in off-the-shelf software.
One Step at a Time
The good news is that you don't need to do everything at once. Most companies adopt mobile technology in phases:
- The first step is to establish communications that integrate voice, email and messaging; it's the basic Smartphone stage.
- Next, you can work to establish remote access to company servers, from laptops and mobile devices; many companies have already established this limited level of mobility, with Virtual Private Networks or VPNs.
- In step three, you can add mobile access to the actual applications your employees use in the office; this is where some re-development or software modification may be necessary.
- Finally, you should consider the possibilities for remote collaboration and unified communications; this level of integration lets workers connect with each other in the field just as easily as they can in the office.
Mobile technology is ever evolving, but there's a good foundation already in place. If you set a course now, you can lead your company into a mobile future. Identify the work tasks and customer relationships where mobility makes sense. Bring your employees and customers into the conversation, and make them part of the process.
Start with the basics, learn by doing and be part of the mobile future. Learn more about your wireless options.
Small Business article content provided by AT&T's Small Business InSite www.att.com/SmallBusinessInSite