Paul Clarke from 3CX tackles the ‘mobile-first’ buzzword, looking at emerging trends as businesses move forward with enterprise mobility.
“Mobile-first” has been a buzzword for long enough to make one thing clear: the trend isn’t going anywhere. With companies of all sizes taking steps to implement it, the important question is: where is it taking all of us? Ultimately, with massive implementation of mobility, what trends are emerging?
The “new normal”
According to VMware, mobility has already become the “new normal.” Today’s workplace is defined as “an integrated set of locations, technology, programs and work practices that connect people and enable employees to contribute and be productive.”
The emergence of this modern workplace has affected the entire process of doing business. It used to be only mobile sales forces or other workers in the field who were concerned with mobility, but now every aspect of doing business needs to be mobile-ready. More than three-quarters of C-Class executives expect mobility to sharply improve business processes, according to a March 2016 survey from Apperian; meaning the ‘new normal’ already has high expectations to live up to.
Workers expect a mobile experience that is easy to use and that makes them more productive in their work. This puts pressure on IT administrators to provide a user experience that promotes adoption and regular use of mobile devices, rather than treating them as an afterthought.
You have to be soft to be smart
As Apperian’s survey shows, smartphones are the devices that workers overwhelmingly prefer when decoupling from their desks and desk phones. This is not surprising, as most of us are already accustomed to making calls, sending messages and working with apps. As such, using a smartphone client as part of the mobile business shouldn’t be a challenge for users.
For IT administrators, the challenge will be guaranteeing the user experience. Workers will expect to choose their preferred form of communication: whether VoIP calls, chat, instant messaging, or web conferencing – transitions from one type of communication to another should be seamless. They will also expect this experience to carry over to any other device as and then they use it, whether that’s a laptop, a desktop or even, on those rarest of rare occasions, a desktop phone.
This means softphones will be critical tools; essentially delivering everything a desk phone ever could and more.
No escape from security
Whether your workers are in a single office, spread around the globe, or on a US aircraft carrier, recent years have proved they’re a tempting target for attacks. The number of attacks on Unified Communications systems has increased sharply in the past year, according to the Voice Over IP Security Alliance (VOIPSA). There has also been a dramatic rise in the number of attacks on both Android and iOS phones according to the Ponemon Institute. The threat to mobile workers is especially severe as most smartphones will double as personal devices – meaning users are mixing business and social apps, data and activities.
These trends make security a priority for anyone wanting to become a truly mobile business. Threats evolve continuously, so successful organisations will have to become proactive, maintaining up-to-date knowledge of threats and supporting users in defending against them.
However, technology alone can only do so much; organisations also need to create a mobility policy that will define security parameters for users and IT staff, balancing data security and employee satisfaction. A mobility policy which ensures that data is protected, but prevents employees from productively and effectively using their mobile devices, will be worthless. After all, if passing security protocol takes minutes instead of seconds, how often will workers want to do it? The ideal policy will allow employees to work on any device in any place with the same security as if they were sitting at their desk working on their computer.
Clearly, reaching such a happy balance will not be easy. It will involve careful consideration of which devices employees should be allowed to use, and how corporate data will be protected on them. It will also involve training mobile device users about device protection, password management, data encryption and backup techniques, so that they can support security measures.
Ultimately, mobility will pose a complex challenge for companies faced with transforming the workplace, changing strategy and core business processes and assuring security. IT administrators will be at the centre of all this change, and the choices they make will make a critical difference in whether the organisation adapts to the “new normal”.
The more that administrators can simplify the choices they make, the less complex adoption will be. For instance, the more comprehensive an organisation’s mobility platform is, the fewer moving parts the administrator needs to consider. Similarly, ease of management, adaptation and implementation should be major considerations. IT departments have enough challenges in managing the expectations and demands of end users, and the future of the mobile business; they more they can reduce complexity, the more they can focus on these key tasks without affecting the always-crucial end-user experience.