Enterprise mobility is a term that describes a shift in work habits, where people spend more time working away from the office, and use a range of mobile devices and cloud services to do their job. What enterprise mobility is really about is creating productive work environments, empowering people and transforming business processes.
For the Ubers and Airbnbs of the world, companies that epitomise the digital economy, innovation is the norm. Among more traditional firms there is a growing awareness of the need to embrace this new culture and make the transition, and many are doing so by partnering with industry giants such as HP that can help them implement their own enterprise mobility strategy.
No longer just a great-to-have work perk, adoption is fast becoming a necessity for the entire business world. And a key driver of this revolution is the gap that exists between the digital experiences that employees have at home and the desk-based technology they are forced to use at work.
“Employees increasingly expect the same functionality and use of technology at work as they do in their personal lives, and in many organisations that simply doesn’t happen,” says Jordan Whitmarsh, worldwide workplace and mobility strategist for HP’s Technology Services Consulting. “For some employees, when they go to work it feels as though they are stepping back in time, using old computers and non-intuitive applications that were written years ago. The delta that exists between this and their personal lives is huge.”
It creates frustration that leads to demotivation and disengagement, and in the current climate, people have few qualms about switching companies for a role that does fulfil their expectations.
Enterprise mobility is an irresistible proposition that companies cannot afford to ignore
Therein lies the clearest business case for enterprise mobility. Companies that want to be seen as employers of choice need a competitive edge in the talent stakes. To hit ambitious growth targets, they need employees who are engaged, motivated and productive.
The logic behind enterprise mobility is simple. By providing better access to the information and tools that people need to do their job, meeting targets becomes infinitely easier and quicker. They can also get more work done in a shorter period, so employees are happier and so are their bosses. This in turn drives organisational efficiency and productivity, and makes the business more competitive and ultimately more profitable.
Enterprise mobility changes the dynamics of collaboration within communities, within and between organisations, allowing employees to self-select instant communities of interest to self-organise and solve problems, just as they would in their personal lives.
It is an irresistible proposition that companies cannot afford to ignore.
The scale of transformation is daunting, particularly for organisations naturally resistant to cultural change.
“It’s clear to us that we are moving in the right direction towards enterprise mobility adoption, but there are challenges,” says Mr Whitmarsh. “For large companies, the move to digital is really testing them.”
But it is achievable. HP itself overcame the trials and tribulations of adapting its communications network to embrace mobility, and now runs its entire global operations, comprising 300,000 employees, on unified communications solutions.
However, some of the biggest challenges are less to do with radical changes to IT infrastructure and more to do with human capital. People are naturally wary of change, even when it promises to enrich their working lives.
Changing workplace age demographics that have seen four generational workforces become commonplace can test enterprise mobility strategies to the limit.
“In many ways this is the most difficult time to be adopting enterprise mobility,” says Mr Whitmarsh. “You have new employees coming into the business, digital natives who have never known anything else, and long-serving employees who have adapted to the status quo and see little value in changing something which isn’t broken. For those employees, the digital transition is a harder sell. It is a challenge, but at HP we know how to do it.”
The key lies in employee empowerment and encouraging a shift of mindset. Lessons learnt from the customer-experience world have also proved invaluable.
“Treat your employees as customers, equip them with the same tools as the customer world to motivate and engage them in a way that can affect their experience and the bottom line. This virtuous circle perfectly illustrates the empowerment of people through enterprise mobility,” says Mr Whitmarsh.
Ultimately change is inevitable and organisations are seeing the business benefits of investing in enterprise mobility to motivate a workforce that, as it turns out, prefers to work this way.
The return on investment (ROI) is measurable. Increasing investment in employee engagement by 10 per cent can increase profits by $2,400 per employee a year, according to the Workplace Research Foundation.
But as Mr Whitmarsh points out, with enterprise mobility, even conventional ROI models are being challenged.
He says: “There are companies that really understand enterprise mobility, and recognise that investing in the digital experience for customers and employees alike must be the norm. Others are still looking through the old lens and need convincing. But we are seeing people view ROI more subjectively and they are the ones who are quietly winning.”
And that really underlines what the ethos of enterprise mobility is about – not just changing technology, but changing behaviours, mindsets and patterns.
“One thing we do know is that business models and employee behaviour are rapidly changing in all industries. Embracing digital in business and the workplace is essential,” Mr Whitmarsh concludes. “This will enable business processes to be more accessible and intuitive, while creating experiences that engage and inspire employees to be their most productive.”