The Unwiring Of The Enterprise

A recent survey conducted by IDC has revealed that by 2013 more than 1.19 billion workers worldwide will be using mobile technology, accounting for 34.9% of the workforce. In addition, Gartner has reported that 61% of survey respondents will improve their mobility capability over the next three years.

This is hardly surprising given that mobility and ‘the unwiring of the enterprise’ has been one of the mega-trends in technology this year. Worldwide shipments of smartphones (487.7 million) outstripped PCs (414.6 million) in 2011, and in 2012 businesses across the UK have really latched on to the concept that embracing mobility, flexible working and BYOD is undoubtedly the way forward.

Nearly every area of business has made its way into mobile format (albeit it at different stages), from administration to HR, process management to sales. Business Intelligence (BI) has played a significant role in the development of mobile strategies.

Executives require the latest information on their business, anywhere and at any time, and mobile BI delivers just this; allowing for more accurate and efficient decisions to be made. The true value of an unwired enterprise and the benefits of mobility are being recognised – but recognition alone is not enough.

Mobile implementation

Although it is encouraging to see companies allowing the use of mobile devices in the workplace, businesses can’t just stop there. Simply permitting tablets and smartphones in the office, or equipping employees with mobile hardware won’t automatically result in improved results for a business.

Recent research conducted by Forrester reveals just this: yes, mobile devices are having a huge impact on businesses, but there are currently multiple potholes when it comes to implementation.

Mobile hardware alone just won’t suffice. Businesses need to make sure that the devices are loaded with the right software and applications that will enable their employees to do their jobs with greater efficiency. After all, the love affair with mobile devices began when consumers realised that their lives could be made easier when they used them – and if businesses don’t follow the same route, they won’t reap the benefits.

Luckily, most businesses are beginning to realise the value of applications; but there still several potential pitfalls which business leaders should bear in mind when unwiring their enterprises.

What to watch out for…

  • One app doesn’t fit all: apps built for the shop floor can flop when it comes to managing the stock room
  • Apps don’t need to do everything but they must excel at the basics. Remember, usability is key
  • Is your network ready? The surge in mobile devices will challenge a network so you must be prepared
  • Avoid point to point mobile integration; instead, think about a platform to support and grow with you
  • Security plans will need to be reviewed in light of a mobile policy; data and information is your company’s greatest asset, so don’t unintentionally put it at risk

Is it all worth it?

You might be thinking – given all this hassle – is the unwiring of the enterprise really worth it? Why not ignore this trend altogether, rather than having to think about the many considerations which come with a mobile workforce?

This is certainly an understandable reaction in response to some of the ‘doom and gloom’ warnings and advice articles which have recently emerged. However, as each day passes, avoiding mobility is becoming less and less viable. Whether employers like it or not, employees are bringing their own devices to work and demanding an increasingly mobile working life. And despite certain considerations which have to be made, on the whole, mobility is a hugely positive trend for businesses.

With the right plan in place BYOD and an unwired enterprise can transform the way your business functions; increasing productivity and improving employee morale. After all, today’s employees – particularly the younger generation – expect to be able to use mobile devices in the workplace; so meeting this expectation can really boost their working experience as well as helping with employee retention levels.

In addition, according to an iPass survey of 1,100 mobile workers, employees who use mobile devices for both work and personal issues put in 240 more hours per year than those who do not.

What does the future hold?

So, once you’ve implemented a mobile strategy, does the process end there? Mobility is a trend which shows no sign of fizzling out and businesses are going to have to continue to adapt to this constantly moving technology market. Now that workers can access information whenever and wherever they like, the next thing businesses are going to have to keep asking themselves is, how can that information be best used?

Mobility, BYOD and the unwiring of the enterprise are an inevitable part of today’s business world, and with dynamic innovators across the UK and worldwide making vast steps in this space, it’s an exciting trend for every business to be a part of.

Adrian Simpson is Chief Innovation Officer at SAP. Adrian has been at SAP for over 10 years working on the rollout of new technologies within SAP, within the partner ecosystem, and ultimately to SAP customers. This has included managing teams within SAP Portals, the Global NetWeaver Initiative, Customer SOA Advisory Office as well as the Technology and Innovation solution architects. Adrian graduated with a B.Sc (Hons) in Computing Science in 1988. He has worked in the UK, USA and Australia for companies such as GE Capital (Retailer Financial Services), Lincoln National Corporation, Roadway Express. He spent 12 years working on large scale database applications with the Computer Corporation of America (CCA) before joining SAP in 2001.