Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google, once said: “If you don’t have a mobile strategy, you don’t have a strategy of growth”.
I agree. The gap continues to grow between organisations that have embraced mobility as a way of life and those that maintain a tactical business approach and continue to resist the inevitable. The latter find themselves increasingly struggling to play catch-up and stay relevant. Those that have taken a “mobile first” approach have disrupted the status quo, and achieved unprecedented levels of success in a very short period of time.
Consider Uber, for example; launched in March 2009, the ridesharing service quickly tapped into customers’ enthusiasm for ‘everything mobile’ and is now valued at more than US$15 billion. The company completely destabilised the traditional taxi model, which simply cannot match the agility of a fully mobile business. Change or perish. Mobile technology really has worked its way into virtually every aspect of our lives.
We all experience at least one moment each day when we use a mobile device to urgently access information or make an important transaction, often when we’re nowhere near the PC or laptop we would have needed to do this in the not-so-distant past. Indeed, recent Oracle survey reveals that over 45 percent of adults prefer to access online services using apps rather than websites, while more than 70 percent use their mobile devices to check their social networks each day. We’ve even started to choose mobile over newspapers and books, with more than half of respondents saying they prefer to read these on their mobiles or tablets only natural that this trend is now sweeping the business landscape as well.
And yet surprisingly, many organisations are still trying to hold back the tide when it comes to enterprise mobility. Only 24 percent of employers actively encourage the use of mobile devices for work, with one-fifth actually limiting the applications and data that employees can access on these devices. The situation in Europe is particularly discouraging; 22 percent of the region’s businesses have a complete ban on data residing on employees’ BYOD devices. In reality, this approach serves neither them nor their employees.
Mobility has become inextricably linked to our daily lives. Our reflex to check our push notifications every few minutes has become almost as ingrained in our psyches as our impulse to drink water when we’re thirsty – and we probably do it more often, to be honest – so why fight the natural progression of things, especially when it can work in our favour?
A mobile approach can transform the way a business operates at its core. It allows people to make the most of their connected devices so they can collaborate more effectively and work in a more flexible way. It also encourages innovation through the use of pioneering apps and services, and perhaps most importantly offers businesses a better way to engage with their customers, their employees, and their partners. I’m not just talking about companies letting people use their smartphones at the office – although this does of course help promote a more mobile business environment.
Today’s mobile enterprise doesn’t just offer employees mobile access to services because they need it to do their work. A mobile enterprise understands that our connected technologies have become instruments for real market innovation and new business models. Companies such as Uber, Spotify, and WhatsApp (among others) have achieved extraordinary levels of success in the past few years because they recognised that mobile isn’t just a nice-to-have; it can be the very essence of a company. And while these young organisations have built themselves exclusively on mobile platforms, even traditional “bricks and mortar” businesses can transform themselves for the digital age by embracing mobile as a way of life.
Enterprise mobility will continue to gain momentum – the question now is whether organisations choose to benefit from this revolution or keep trying to stop the inevitable. The decision is of course theirs to make, but I would advise businesses today to stop fighting a losing battle and instead embrace enterprise mobility on their own terms so they can make it work to their advantage.