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Why mobile devices in business need a reinvention

Why mobile devices in business need a reinvention 

Recent internal HP Inc. research, conducted last year and surveying 700 small and large business customers across the globe, found that over 60 per cent of end users reach for their smart phone first even when other devices are nearby.

“Mobile first” is now trending across all generations and has become the new normal in the workplace. Smart business leaders know this, just as they’ve always known mobility offer huge potential to increase employee productivity, boost employee satisfaction and reduced technology costs.

But has this resulted in widespread, successful CYOD policies among Canadian businesses?

In many cases, the answer is no.

Some industry observers such as IDC Canada attribute the mixed results of enterprise mobility to challenges that include poorly formulated CYOD policies and less-than-compelling mobile enterprise apps. In its recent Enterprise Mobility in Canada report, the analyst firm found that 59 per cent of Canadian organizations have not deployed any internal mobile apps, and that 62 per cent have no plans to accelerate development with mobile enterprise app platforms.

This data suggest that many Canadian organizations are not taking “mobile first” as seriously as they should and are missing increased productivity gains in the process. But while the aversion of Canadian enterprises to building and deploying mobile apps is surprising, the obstacle to an effective business mobility plan might be the devices themselves.

Many Canadians are using three or more mobile devices on the job, meaning a lot of work for IT staff and huge device management and procurement costs. Given the crush of mobile devices at work, it’s no wonder that IT teams in Canada have struggled to roll out enterprise mobile apps and take full advantage of mobility’s potential benefits.

But forget the IT teams for a second and consider the crush on productivity.

Employees are continually stopping and starting throughout their work day, sending data back and forth across three or four different devices. The work environment today is full of transitions – going from desk to a meeting, from a meeting to a client’s office, and then back to the office for a brainstorming session with colleagues.

“Mobile first” isn’t effective if it’s followed by “desktop second” or “USB drive third.”

For instance, if a retailer arms all of its staff with tablets or smart phones to better serve customers, but still need them to re-input that data on additional end user devices behind the checkout counter or in the back office, that’s the model of inefficiency.

Canadian businesses need to take a new approach to business mobility if they want to meet the needs of their current and future workforce and remain competitive.  The strategy needs to be geared toward giving employees –in the office, on the road and at home – seamless access to the people, apps and data they need.

This is essential because seamless is everything in a “mobile first” world and too many devices can comprise that experience and kill productivity in the process.

A few years ago, technology manufacturers sought to address this widening gap between personal and professional technology needs with Pocket PCs and personal digital assistants. However, the concept was ahead of its time, as these devices lacked the processing power, external display capabilities and app selection.

But this is changing.

Mobile chip performance and network speeds are closing-in on traditional desktops and laptops – increasing 300 per cent in the last three years alone. Data is everywhere with the cloud. And mobile security is coming along rapidly with impressive safeguards being offered at the hardware, device and operating system layers.

This is opens the door to new business-focused mobile devices that will be able to rival other computing machines in raw processing power, but with modern design aesthetics. The new 3-in-1 category – a device which can act as a phone or tablet and dock into PC when needed – might fit the bill for organizations looking to build a “mobile first” experience.

This new device category is important to Canadian business because they can cut down the amount of devices they need to buy and support, while employees can use their mobile devices in more versatile and productive ways. For example, a salesperson should be able to use their Salesforce app on the go and then head into the office, connect that handheld mobile device to a large screen and keyboard dock and work away with the rest of the team.

And if the organization’s important in-house software doesn’t yet have a mobile version available, the IT department should be able to virtualize the desktop application to deliver the app and its content quickly and securely.

Desktop apps are hard to handle in a mobile focused world, so the ability to virtualize a desktop app is particularly crucial for organizations and their IT teams to deliver key apps to the mobile devices of their employees without porting them over or building them again from scratch – both of which will require significant time and resources.

At the end of the day, the mobile business computing devices of the future need to address the fact that employees are carrying too many devices, cables and chargers in their bags – while at the same time, giving employees a secure, simple and seamless user experience that is consistent anywhere they take the device.

Canadian organizations that deliver on the needs of a “mobile first” workforce will be well poised to attract tomorrow’s industry leaders, keep their talented people happy, and ultimately keep pace with the competition.

Mary Ann Yule Mary Ann Yule is the President of HP Canada.

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