The Impact of Mobility on the SMB Workforce

Friday, November 04, 2011

Bill Gerneglia

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Small and medium businesses are increasingly more mobile as their employees are demanding increased access from both the home and the road like never before. SMBs face a wide range of challenges when it comes to providing this access for these mobile workforces.  

While laptop computers still dominate the world of mobile computing, more and more businesses are now beginning to recognize the need for a mixture of wired, wireless, and mobile broadband connections as well as advanced voice services that enable a new level of services and savings.  

By understanding these tools and technologies and how they  form the foundation of a business-ready mobile infrastructure, SMBs can improve their productivity by leveraging the very latest solutions that will help them grow their business.

According to Dell Computing, mobile computing solutions that are based on open and industry-standard technology offer you the latest and best technology that helps run your business now. You can maintain the flexibility to change or adapt to new technology enhancements that can help improve your business’ future growth.

You should understand the following considerations when making mobile technology selections:

1. Choose Smart phones, tablets, laptops and servers that are designed around industry-standard operating systems instead of a single vendor's proprietary operating system.

2. Form relationships with multiple mobile service carriers so you get the right coverage and select the plan that best fits your business requirements.

3. Consider using a service such as Dell managed mobility services help your company get the most out of your mobile workforce while keeping your corporate data secure.
An open mobility approach helps you stay on top of technology without getting locked into a single vendor's devices or software. 

In making technology selections on behalf of your organization you should ask youself the following questions:

What are the IT and business impacts of the Smartphone and portable computing devices in the small and medium business workplace?

How does the demand from workers to use their personal devices impact business management and IT?

Smart phones, tablets and other portable computing devices are rapidly becoming increasingly powerful, sophisticated and popular.  Many knowledge workers want to use their personal devices for work.

They want the efficiency and familiarity of one device to manage both their personal information and workplace data. This proliferation of portable computing devices is having a variety of diverse impacts on IT, business practices, consumer behavior and access to information.

There are benefits and challenges for both workers and IT to make this new and unprecedented global and mobile portable computing model work. This trend of knowledge workers wanting the flexibility and freedom to have their own device will continue to grow.

The challenges for IT and business management are figuring out how to allow workers to chose acceptable consumer devices while maintaining security, overall performance and the user experience.

Worldwide mobile device sales to end users totalled 1.6 billion units in 2010, a 31.8 % increase from 2009.  

Smartphone sales to end users were up 72.1 % from 2009 and accounted for 19 % of total mobile communications device sales in 2010 according to Gartner, Inc.
Gartner expects 70 million media tablets to be sold this year and 108 million in 2012, compared with just 17.6 million units in 2010.

In the expanding global and mobile marketplace knowledge workers are no longer limited to the physical confines of an office or regular business hours.  The pace and timing of business has changed with the expansion and adaptation of portable computing technology.

People as both workers and individuals want to instantly connect and collaborate.  They want to receive phone calls, emails, text messages and all of their other work and personal communications through a single device of their choosing anywhere and anytime. 

The business issues and IT challenges surrounding mobility include:

1. What are minimum security standards a company must require?

2. Will all operating systems, platforms and applications be supported

3. Operational guidelines for integrating devices into IT infrastructure if they are used for both personal and business? 

4. What control a company is allowed over the workers personal data. What are acceptable and legal guidelines?

5. Personal vs. business use of company supported devices. Who owns the data? Who pays for their purchase & usage?

6. How can companies improve knowledge sharing and collaboration among employees?
By answering these questions up front IT professionals can make an informed decision for their organization. 

Cross-posted from myITview.com  via CIOZone

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