Over the past decade, smartphones and tablets have become so smart, there are already a few that outpace the standard laptop. Wearables too have evolved tremendously beyond the simple fitness tracking features of a few years ago. Whether it's communicating with friends or completing a task at work, smartphones have become part of our everyday life and essential to collaboration. But are businesses ready to cast traditional desktops and laptops aside and go mobile-only?
According to a study on enterprise mobility Samsung conducted with GfK Public Communications and Social Science, nearly half (42%) of workers opted for a smartphone over laptops, tablets, desktops and other choices. The survey group was comprised of 1,205 workers from various industries including field service, transportation, public safety and healthcare. All participants were required to own a smartphone and spent one third of their working day using the device for communication and work-related tasks.
With consumer adoption of mobile devices nearly at critical mass, businesses are looking at how these sleek and powerful devices, with their mobile applications, workflows and versatile connectivity (through LTE and soon, 5G) can enhance their operations and drive productivity.
The writing is on the wall; we're entering a new age in business technology. Mobile-only is coming. And with the mobile-using population in the United States on track to hit 450 million by 2023, now is the time to make this workplace transformation a reality.
Who's ready for mobile-only?
Many employees are more likely to be found working from a car, train, truck, delivery vehicle, or even an airplane seat rather than an office. These individuals are prime candidates for mobile-only.
Picture a field engineer equipped with a smartphone, who has traveled several hours to arrive at the job site. She looks over the equipment and recognizes an issue, so she contacts the chief engineer.
With her smartphone, she's able to take a crisp photo, annotate it with a stylus and send it back to headquarters. She's quickly advised of the necessary part and securely orders it right from the phone. The replacement part gets shipped out that afternoon, and the customer is satisfied.
But what about when she needs to write up the report — time to pull out the laptop? No, this is where new capabilities that allow the smartphone to power a desktop experience come into play. Back at her home office, she connects her smartphone to a monitor, keyboard and mouse. She can get all her productivity work done, confirming the shipping information, completing the customer engagement report and writing a detailed knowledge base article.
In addition to field engineers, many other mobile professionals, such as salespeople and healthcare workers, can also benefit from a mobile-only approach that enables them to do their jobs more efficiently while moving around within or between offices.
Making the transition
Going mobile-only isn't just a technological shift, it's a cultural shift as well. While it does take some project coordination to make this kind of fundamental transition, workers who are frustrated with their current toolset will eagerly adopt a streamlined, mobile-only workstyle that enables them to focus on the job at hand — rather than juggle multiple devices.
But mobile-only requires some planning. Shifting from PCs to mobile means a new operating system which is similar, but not identical, to those that your employees are most familiar with. It also means carefully reviewing your applications — Windows, web-based and mobile — to ensure employees can access everything they need.
Each organization has different requirements, and consequently, the approach will vary. For example, your company may require specific device lockdowns or access to custom applications. Evaluating configuration options, in conjunction with end-user input and feedback, ensures project success.
Lastly, implementing a post-deployment survey, especially after group rollouts, can give IT staffs valuable guidance on how to proceed with subsequent phases. Listening to users is key.
End results: simplicity and savings
Transitioning to a mobile-only workplace may seem radical, but the end result is long-term simplification and optimization of IT management for every department that makes the change.
Paring down the number of devices that not only have to be physically maintained but also kept updated and protected is a major boon for company security and productivity. Focusing your time and budget on one device instead of two (or more!) will help ensure that all software and security programs are kept updated, hardware is maintained, and comprehensive training materials are universal.
And, as we discussed in a previous blog post, investing in mobile and developing a long-term mobile strategy can drive new business models and revenue streams. While many companies often lean towards BYOD strategies for cost savings, it turns out that the device is just a small part of the equation and BYOD only saves companies 11 percent compared to providing devices to employees.
Your workforce will be able to be more productive, as well. Not only will they be empowered to work anywhere and visit clients and job sites without compromising their toolkit, they'll also know that every one of their teammates has the same software and interface they do.
Transitioning to mobile-only now, rather than later, will allow your company to reap these benefits, while also allowing you the time needed to gradually roll out the new hardware. Showcase your industry leadership, empower your workers to do their best work, and collect long-term savings by getting onboard with the mobile-only trend.