Phones, mobile broadband....it all costs money. Here, Brennan IT narrows down the business case for setting up staff so they can work anywhere.
When it comes to a mobile strategy, Rob Pagura, Mid-Market Executive with IBM, says that with so many options on the table it’s important to focus on a business outcome. Looking at specific areas of the business – such as the sales team – is likely to yield faster results than taking an immediate business-wide approach.
“Identify what the business value of any solution is going to be,” he says. “Is it efficiency? Is it growth? Is it creating an application to put a process in the customer’s hands? The important question for any solution is ‘What is the business case and what is its ROI?’”
Freedom to move between devices is also an important focus. “It should be simple for staff to edit a PowerPoint document they’ve created on their desktop on their phone, and even deliver it,” says Osborne. Use the Cloud as the glue, Heyworth says, with users moving seamlessly between computers, tablets, smartphones and even smart TV. Businesses still need tools, not toys.
When selecting devices the expert consensus is that a user-led approach is best – as long as decisions are sensible. “Ultrabooks are hugely popular because users love how light and compact they are. But for the time being they’re also a little rogue, and less easily managed by IT departments than notebooks,” says Osborne. An ultrabook processor will also be around 20% slower than a standard voltage notebook processor. With a desktop being two to three times faster than that, it’s vital to carefully match devices to purpose.
Businesses should also be happy to recognise and accommodate the fact that – because staff will often keep their devices close at all hours – there must be an allowance for personal use. Manageability, support and service are also core requirements. “Businesses still need tools, not toys. Be careful that thin doesn’t mean fragile. Devices should be robust and agile, as well as delivering on performance,” Heyworth advises.
Bring your own device (BYOD) is a hot topic and one that small to medium businesses, in particular, are keen to explore. But the experts sound a note of caution on the topic. “Flexibility is good, but I’d advise companies to pursue a ‘choose your own’ rather than ‘bring your own’ approach, where staff select devices that have been approved by the IT department, knowing they can be supported when it comes to applications, licensing and warranties,” Heyworth says.
As mobility gains traction, businesses must ‘plan to lose’ their devices. “Loss of data is definitely a big risk,” says Osborne. In addition to encryption for remote-wipe capabilities, his advice is that services like Computrace – which can capture key strokes and assist with the recovery of lost devices, even if a hard drive has been removed – are must-haves.
Pagura says that close attention to detail is required. IBM, for example, advises businesses using the iPad to disable Siri because it may repeat sensitive information or passwords out loud. For those looking for tips, the Department of Defence publishes ‘hardening guides’ for iOS and other devices.
End of the desktop?
Since Apple launched the iPad, tablet devices have gained ground as business tools. But if there’s one thing on which the experts agree, it’s that mobility won’t spell the end of the desktop. Heyworth, talks of a ‘PC plus’ rather than a ‘post PC’ world, saying that the desktop is itself evolving, adding wireless features while shrinking in size. And for processor-intensive, high-resolution tasks, the desktop remains king. Osborne declares, “Certainly tablets will gather momentum as their ability to act as primary devices increases. But even with mobility taking off in earnest, the desktop will continue to have a huge following.”
When considering tablets, businesses should look for devices that run Windows apps, use the right security, sync with printers and integrate well with existing environments.
What’s certain is that mobility is more than just a trend. A myriad of benefits means that access to business systems across multiple devices and locations has become a business and a workforce expectation. Pagura concludes, “It’s ultimately about convergence.”
5 ways to remain productive on the go
1. Catch up on email
The battery life and portability of tablets and
ultrabooks makes computing in the air much
• The advantage of composing thoughts at
altitude is that you can’t be interrupted.
• Sync your email at the gate and queue
messages for sending when you land.
However, don’t make too many business critical
decisions in the sky – cabins are
pressured around 5,000 feet, meaning you
may be a little light-headed!
2. Do your research
Transfer your business reading onto
your device before you board:
• To easily access materials online, use
tools such as Read It Later, Instapaper
3. Create a ‘go bag’
Fill a ‘go bag’ with everything you need to
do business on the road:
• Include power adaptors for your devices
as well as extra cords – even additional
(and fully charged) batteries.
4. Bring your own connection
While airport and hotel Wi-Fi is
increasingly reliable, a better solution is
to take a mobile connection with you.
5. Don’t travel
One of the best ways to avoid lost
productivity is to not travel at all:
• While much business travel is worthwhile,
video conferencing and other tools
are making face-to-face meetings less
necessary than they once were. These
technologies can help you save time,
be more productive and reduce your
This article is an extract from the first issue of The Buzz, a free new publication from Brennan IT that aims to provide a well rounded view on some of the significant themes shaping today’s technology discussions. We encourage you to view the rest of the article and other articles in The Buzz by clicking here. Disclosure: Brennan IT is an advertiser on BIT.