The goal is to create a scalable, secure and sustainable mobile workforce strategy.
To support partners, suppliers, and customers dispersed across the globe, the workforce has become more mobile, and work happens wherever business takes place. As businesses compete in a global economy, they rely on their mobile workforce to ensure product innovation and customer satisfaction. It is therefore critical for businesses to provide their workforce with easy and secure access to the right data, tools, and applications to do their jobs successfully - at any time and from anywhere.
Key business issues to consider:
- What are the roles within an organization where an optimized mobile strategy could have a high impact on productivity?
- Which responsibilities could be completed more efficiently via mobile devices and which responsibilities will remain highly dependent on an office-based environment?
- Which devices align well with the responsibilities of various roles? Do the various predominate mobile platforms have advantages?
- Are the organization’s processes in alignment with the responsibilities of a mobile worker?
Consider four issues:
1. Assess the data requirement needs of the workforce.
2. Determine your company's readiness to support a mobile workforce.
3. Evaluate your organization's mobile integration points.
4. Design a mobile strategy.
Workforce Data Requirements
Consider what the mobile workforce needs.
As the workforce becomes more mobile, it is important to understand that the needs of the workforce vary based on job functions and work locations. A one-solution-fits-all approach towards a mobility strategy is unwise. For example, the business needs of field technicians who spend their days fixing customer equipment are different from those of sales executives within the same company.
If you're a sales executive, would you be more effective if you could access a client's purchasing records and credit information before an onsite sales meeting?
Before you make a sales call, would it be helpful to research competitors on the Internet to be prepared to answer any competitive questions that might arise?
Where is your work typically done when you're on the road? Are you always able to access Wi-Fi hotspots or is your geography more complicated? Would Mobile Broadband that doesn't need a Wi-Fi hotspot help you get your work done more effectively?
As a support technician or consultant, would access to customer service records help you better diagnose customer problems and determine the right repair parts so you don't have to make a return trip?
Do you fly regularly and need to make travel arrangements quickly using the Internet?
Do you need to securely access sensitive company documents to determine the best approach for assisting a customer?
When working at remote sites, will workers need to access or print important documents, e-mails or notes for reference in meetings?
When you finalize a deal or amend a scope of work with a client, would the process run more smoothly if you could immediately contact company management for required approvals?
On the road, do you need access to a shared calendar, contact information, voicemail or other office functions?
Analyze Organization Readiness
Although industries and companies are increasingly moving to a mobile workforce solution, it's important to understand how the solution can benefit the bottom line. As you explore your company's readiness for a mobile workforce, ask yourself these types of questions:
Have specific jobs within the company already been identified for mobile work, or do those jobs still need to be defined?
Do executives already support the concept, or does education need to occur to explain the potential ROI involved?
Does the human resources department understand the needs of a mobile, flexible workforce? If not, what training needs to occur?
Has someone in the IT department already determined which products will best suit your company's mobile workforce? If not, who will do that and how long will the process take? Is IT ready to manage remote support?
Is there a budget in place to add the technology required to support an effective mobile workforce? If not, where will the executive sponsorship come from to obtain the proper approvals so purchases can be made?
Analyze Mobile Integration Points
When planning for a mobile workforce, you must consider your company's current application architecture. This architecture review will determine your organization's current mobile integration points, and whether or not any changes need to be made to them. For example, if your company already uses Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 (SP2) or 2007, it already has mobile integration points ready to support a wide variety of mobile products—smartphones, PDAs (personal digital assistants) and notebook PCs—and services, such as voicemail and e-mail.
Examine the data requirements you've developed, and then determine how those requirements could be efficiently and effectively delivered to your mobile workers using the mobile integration points your company already has in place.
You might discover you need to implement a mobile solution that requires additional software and hardware to support it; however, you might also determine you have the necessary infrastructure in place to move forward immediately.
Design a Mobile Strategy
Each mobile strategy is unique, because your company's needs are unique. Don't be swayed into purchasing products because a competitor is using them; take the time to thoroughly research a variety of products before making a final decision. For example, your competitor's solution might involve the use of ultra light notebooks and cell phones, although your solution might include tablet PCs, a mobile inkjet printer and smartphones.
When creating a mobile strategy, you're encouraged to engage the people who'll ultimately be using the solution. If, for example, the majority of workers are sales people, talk to a group of them to be sure you have a solid understanding of their needs. If, on the other hand, mobile workers will be scattered across the company, talk to a group that includes representatives from each group to see how needs are similar or how they might vary.
Above all, be certain that your mobile strategy enables workers to access the data requirements determined previously. Just because a product is trendy doesn't mean it provides the data your workers need on the road.