If you're starting to think 'mobility' is a recurring theme in your reading, you'd be right. For those who haven't started to build organisational capabilities to leverage it, it's fair to say you're late to the party. The good news: better late than never.
Research firm eMarketer says the worldwide smartphone audience will total 1.75 billion this year, while communications technology and services provider Ericsson suggests smartphones will triple to 5.6 billion globally by 2019. It should be no surprise, smart phone adoption is reaching the farthest corners of the globe; the subsequent impact of enterprise applications enabled by these devices is driving business performance improvement and will continue to do so.
Companies using advanced workforce analytics can add significantly to the bottom line, while impacting customer satisfaction, quality and productivity. It's a statement that makes most business leaders sit forward in their chairs. Achieving these three standards is like sipping The Golden Elixir for the business world. No-one would argue their importance.
So what are 'advanced workforce analytics?' Simply, they're unprecedented access to workforce trends and performance markers. Many are made possible by a mobile world and the enterprise applications that come with it on smart devices. Some refer to it as 'the consumerisation of IT'. As this phenomenon has matured and become more widely appreciated it has impacted the spectrum of functional units within an enterprise differently, but powerfully. Whether it's sales, HR, marketing, IT, or operations, all have benefited from a more mobile approach. It has been the catalyst for improvement in, and management of, the employee experience. The net result of which is happier customers.
The obvious benefits but the lesser realised impact
Most people understand that mobility allows for greater efficiency and productivity, collaboration and flexibility, but how that translates into business outcomes within the various functional groups is lesser known.
In actuality mobility has helped galvanise partnerships between cross-functional groups within the enterprise. Where in some quarters it was once feared mobility could fragment a workforce, its rallying cry of support is coming from what you might describe as an unlikely source - HR.
As the bedrock of an enterprise, it is conceivable HR might contemplate the possible negative impact of a mobile workforce that no-longer sits in an office, at the same desks every day. After all, who would know what they were doing or saying? How would they collaborate? It's reasonable to see why HR might have a legitimate claim to try and retain as much 'perceived control' as possible. The reality however is mobility has emancipated human capital and its management.
Mobility and enterprise applications are expediting decision making. Google calls it Zero Moment of Truth, or ZMOT. It enables smoother operation and can contribute to faster growth. From a collaborative perspective, with the growing use of enterprise social media, which in many cases is being driven by HR, workforce planning and the tangible impact of change is much easier to map. This in turn provides a platform from which individuals and teams can thrive.
With more agility and ability to anticipate, staff satisfaction and retention is higher, and real time feedback constant. The management team can save time, energy and costs with more accurate data, which is then intelligently applied across the workforce to truly engage with staff, customers and partners. From a human capital management (HCM) perspective, mobility can help you close the loop on true talent management. It can enhance what managers can offer and what employees can provide in return. It can create nested relationships and powerful partnerships.
IT and HR - partners and stewards of mobility
One effect of enterprise mobility is an evolution in the nature of the relationship between HR and IT from one of service provision to partnership. The reason for the dynamic shift is largely due to the 'bring your own device' (BYOD) movement, which is transitioning to a 'bring your own application' (BYOA) scenario. As enterprise technology has in some ways reverse-engineered its solutions to help manage this situation, the partnership between IT (the functional owner) and HR (the strategic enabler) is deeply entrenched. And it has to be.
The CIO and the HR leader are faced with compliance and regulatory issues and concerns around information security and personal privacy on a daily basis, complicated by global reach and varied domestic legislation. There are tens of thousands of new mobile apps entering the market each month and, unlike many consumer applications which get downloaded but are often never opened again after initial perusal, enterprise applications are being relied upon by functional groups, not least by HR to enhance people management. It requires a systematic approach across all applications in use within the enterprise in order to ensure they're used to best effect.
No turning back, and no desire to
With real time analytics on performance and the ability for immediate feedback, there is no turning back for managers. In my experience with Oracle, our customers' operational efficiency is at record levels. It's clear as a result of the combination of individual KPIs and organisational goals, CIOs have been able to give HR leaders the ability to build predictive models that feed into an enterprise organisations' evolving strategy. It also helps them ensure regulatory compliance much more easily. Once an arduous task, with mobile enabled automation and quality data, compliance is simpler. Their world has changed for the better.
For the CIO, mobility also assists them to optimise performance. While it doesn't come without challenges, mobile-enabled applications and the native experience users have with them means employees don't need high-level technical expertise to train users. It reduces the training and engagement required from the IT team so they can focus on other things that deliver value to the bottom line; all the while lowering the cost of assets and related maintenance work by simplifying processes.
Rewards of a mobile enterprise outweigh risks
With mobile tools allowing us to increasingly integrate our personal and professional lives, terms like "office hours" are becoming irrelevant, so work/life balance is a cultural must. Enterprises are expected to offer tools that enable workers to access information from anywhere, at any time, from any device. Employees want simplicity and convenience but it doesn't stop at private enterprise. This is a societal shift. Governments, which traditionally have been known to be slower to adopt newer technology, are also offering support for local businesses to go mobile. Several state government websites have advice on how to create mobile apps and more. And as recently as last week the Victorian Minister for Technology Gordon Rich-Phillips unveiled his State government's ICT roadmap for the next two years, which details an increased use of the public cloud, as well as mobile communications, and improved access to online data-sets.
Tech giants are investing significantly in solutions designed to simplify mobile deployment and enablement. The mobility trend is creating a wave of change in the industry and driving transformation in the enterprise. If you're not on that wave, the business risk continues to rise as your competitiveness drops.