by Christoph Schell

Meeting the demands of a mobile workforce

Jul 07, 2017
MobileSmall and Medium BusinessTechnology Industry

Not long ago, rising demands of the millennial workforce’ use of personal mobile devices to access company data fostered widespread Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies. Today, the tide is shifting.

Close focus shot of a businessman using a mobile phone
Credit: Thinkstock

Across businesses large and small, from the enterprise to the small-to-medium business (SMB), mobility is transforming the workplace. Not long ago, rising demands of the millennial workforce’ use of personal mobile devices to access company data fostered widespread Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies. Today, the tide is shifting.

A new state of mind is trending across today’s workforce and will influence those that follow. By 2020, millennials will represent the bulk of the workforce, and they don’t accept the rules of prior generations. They want to work wherever, whenever, and with connected mobile devices that are fun as well as functional, stylish, powerful and easy to use.

Employers around the globe now recognize mobility as a strategic tool to recruit top talent, automate processes and improve operational efficiency. The workspace today is collaborative, flexible, project-oriented, and unbounded by time or geography. In fact, 94 percent of millennials say collaboration is “critically important” to their work, and 40 percent of their time is spent in conference calls. Mobility allows businesses to stay connected with employees around the globe, improve response time and lower the cost of operations. 

By going mobile, employees can conference and collaborate with colleagues and customers anywhere, anytime. The emergence of mobile productivity apps is also on the rise, helping to streamline business processes, such as submitting expense reports, managing conference calls or tracking time and ultimately improving overall employee productivity and job satisfaction.

By providing immediate access to company data, including customer buying history, product information and inventory levels, field service and sales personnel can more quickly resolve customer issues and close deals. And with real-time access to data, senior management can make more timely decisions and take immediate action.

Fulfilling the need for device versatility

The mobile workforce is characterized by a range of devices they require to get through a day. Analyst firm Gartner, Inc. finds that today’s employees use an average of three different devices throughout their daily routine. The study also found that a large majority of employees move routinely between devices just to complete a single task. They may start an activity on a smartphone, then reroute it to a laptop or desktop to complete the task.

In response to this need, a broad range of premium, enterprise-class mobile devices are emerging, designed specifically to provide a seamless transition from a mobile device to a laptop or desktop form factor, enabling users to run productivity apps effortlessly across devices.

For example, a salesperson can use a preinstalled Salesforce app while on-the-go, then head into the office and seamlessly connect the mobile device to a large display and keyboard dock to continue work on the project. And if the organization’s in-house software doesn’t yet have a mobile version available, the IT department can virtualize the desktop application using an off-the-shelf vendor solution to deliver content quickly and securely.

Meeting mobile printing requirements 

Understanding the opportunity for mobile printing in the workplace first requires rejecting the notion that the enterprise has abandoned much of its need for printing and paper records. Although thousands of emails, documents and social posts are distributed and viewed across mobile devices, employees still require mobile printing solutions in and out of the office. 

Digital forms and workflows may be reducing the amount of paperwork, yet many organizations still rely on hard-copy contracts, government forms and reports to support business processes – especially in highly regulated fields such as finance and healthcare.

More and more companies are taking advantage of new compact mobile printers to enable field service personnel to print receipts, work orders and reports or capture signatures. And in the office, companies are fulling the need for mobile printing in one of two ways. A cloud-based infrastructure allows employees to submit a print request to a registered printer directly from their mobile device or an app. Wi-Fi enabled printing is another option, allowing users to print directly over the network with direct-to-printer wireless capabilities.

Addressing mobile security concerns

While mobility affords companies with many benefits, it also raises the stakes on security. Up to now, companies have been mainly focused on protecting the network and not much attention has been given to the protection of endpoint devices. But with the significant rise in data breaches, companies are now focusing on endpoint security, including printers, laptops, and mobile devices.

Endpoint devices have become an increasingly popular target of hackers based on inherent vulnerabilities that can be exploited to expose sensitive company data. Hackers can inject unprotected devices with malware that can intercept data traveling over a network to/from a device or use the malicious code to access a company network through vulnerable PCs.

In response to rising security concerns, manufacturers are building stringent security features into a vast range of devices. Added security features in the end device can prevent threats from malware in the BIOS and enable IT to conduct remote PC wipes via the cloud.

Mobility is fast becoming a strategic company imperative for building workplace productivity, communication and morale. As the new generation of workers who grew up with social and mobile technology permeates the workforce, it is crucial for companies to create workplaces that support these technological advances.