Developing Your Mobility Strategy

by Vivek Porwal    Sep 19, 2008

The Morphing Workplace

Faced with new demands and increased competition, organizations are
driven to discover new ways they can adapt and meet those demands and
remain competitive.

Gone are the days when workers lined up to enter the office, ready to
punch the time card so they could schedule their breaks and their
exodus based on the tick of the clock. Relatively recent changes in
the tools used by workers have ushered in an era of increased
mobility, one in which workers are no longer tied to a physical desk
in a physical office.

Instead, workers travel beyond the office premises to perform their
business tasks. They roam from office to office within the
enterprise, or they hop on a plane and travel across the continent.
Laptop computers, cell phones, and network-enabled PDAs are
commonplace among an increasing number of workers.

Businesses use two primary types of networks in day-to-day
operations: voice and data. Many enterprises are increasingly
migrating their traditionally separate voice and data networks to a
single network. Because voice can now be handled digitally, it is
possible to introduce voice, as data packets, to the same local area
networks traditionally used only for computing.

Blending networks has great benefits in many areas, particularly in
the face of an increasingly mobile workforce. A blended network is
easier to implement physically, and it can reduce costs because there
is need to maintain and manage two separate networks. In many cases
existing network infrastructure can be used for this blended network.
Public networks - such as the Internet and the existing phone system
- can be used as integral parts of the blended network.

Networks and Your Workers’ Needs

The network needs of your workers depend largely on their mobility
level. It may be sufficient for deskbound workers to access just the
phone network and your local area network. However, these levels of
connectivity will not suffice for other, more mobile workers in the
enterprise.

Understanding Your Client’s Perspective

It would be a myopic view of business if the focus is strictly on
workers, tools, and networks. It is important to remember that these
three elements are in place to do one thing: serve clients.

If the clients’ expectations are not met, having the best
infrastructure won’t really help. The infrastructure should closely
match the enterprise’s need to meet its clients’ expectations.

Meeting Needs

Every day it seems that some new solution is being offered for
telecommunications, particularly mobile communications. Discerning
the gems among all the new products can be difficult, and in some
cases downright dangerous (from a business standpoint).

The leading edge of technology is often called the “bleeding edge”
for a reason. Many organizations that adopted brand new technology
later regretted the decision. New, unproven technology is prone to
circumstances that can make your purchasing decision risky:

* Proprietary technology: If the technology used in a product is
unique to a single vendor, it may be here today and gone tomorrow.
Vendors may make decisions that leave you with an “orphan product” in
your business.

* Limited service: New technology may not have a knowledgeable
service network in place to provide the support you need when (not
if) you develop problems with your systems.

* Large expense: When a new technology is rolled out, the vendor
seeks to recoup costs over the sales life of a limited number of
products. If you purchase soon after a technology’s release, you may
pay more for the technology than if you were to wait and allow it to
mature.

* Limited track record: Most new technologies have no in-field track
record to analyze. Well-established, more mature, enterprise-class
technologies often have clients and histories that you can look at to
see what problems, if any, are inherent in the technology.

The bottom line is to determine which technologies need
implementation in a mobile strategy. Doing so would avoid fads -
solutions that seem like the right answer at the time but may end up
being the wrong business decision down the road. Fads are costly not
only monetarily but in other ways as well.

Defining Your Own Strategy

After recognizing that the workforce is changing, it is imperative to
plan for that change and manage the enterprise’s response to it.

This would involve:

* Gaining Advantages with a Coherent Strategy
* Focus on Client’s Experience and identify client contact points
* Get answers for clients and reduce telephone tags
* Enhance brand and image and focus on costs
* Identify the origin of telecom charges
* Assess realistic needs and manage support costs
* Determine the total cost of ownership and Focus on Operational
Issues
* Aim for the one-number model
* Train and provide technical support to users

Mobile Technologies at Work

Sometimes the best way to understand what a coherent mobile
communications strategy can do for an enterprise is to see what it
has accomplished for others.

In the highly competitive contact-center outsourcing industry,
advanced technology can be a key competitive differentiator.
Reliability, meanwhile, is paramount. For most businesses, employing
proven cutting-edge technology can reduce operating costs and improve
worker productivity. But for some, it can mean the difference between
profitability and bankruptcy.

Top Ten Tips for a Successful Mobility Implementation

* Create a Worker Snapshot: The first tip for creating a mobile
communications strategy is to examine what employees do and where
they do it, and use that information as the basis for the plan.

* Determine the Workers’ Needs: Different employees need different
tools to accomplish their work. Many of the tools they need have a
communications aspect to them, such as phones, cell phones, PDAs, and
laptops.

* Focus on Your Client: Organizations that fall into the trap of not
meeting clients on their own terms run the risk of losing their
market share to other organizations.

* Leverage Existing Infrastructures: Every business has a
communications infrastructure already in place. It may not be fancy,
and it may not be as efficient as it could be, but good money was
spent on hardware and software to help your business communicate.

* Converge Networks: Most businesses utilize two major networks:
voice and data. When these are converged into a single network,
overall costs are reduced immediately.

* Utilize Proven Technologies: Technologies for mobile
communications, both data and voice, are mature enough to resist the
urge to try unproven technologies.

* Shoot for One-Number Connectivity: One-number connectivity for
clients provides a single, manageable point of entry for
communication. The single number is easier to advertise and easier
for your clients to remember.

* Implement Powerful Management Tools: Any mobile communications
solution should provide a rich suite of management tools. Having
proper tools in place will help make configuration changes easily,
such as assigning phone numbers to different employees or adding new
equipment or services.

* Seek Expert Help: Whilst considering solutions providers, don’t be
afraid to ask questions - seek their help. If they are truly experts
in their field, they will provide the answers needed.

* Don’t Be Afraid of Change: The biggest thing that you need to guard
against is allowing the fear of change to immobilize you. Some
organizations find themselves in this situation, with management
knowing they need to make changes but unable to come to grips with
exactly how to do so.

(The author is the BU head for unified communications of Avaya
GlobalConnect)