Indian Cos must think of mobile workforce

by p b    Jun 13, 2011

Anurag Agrawal

Dear Friends,
CXOToday will bring experts and experienced professionals who will write regular columns and share their perspective on technology and how it impacts their business. We introduce Anurag Agrawal, a veteran industry analyst and market research professional for the technology industry. With his second column, he shares his research insights in “Anurag’s Corner” on the intersection of business and technology. Enjoy reading and please share your feedback.

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Editor

Information Technology has been having an impact on business operations, but the essential nature of an employees’ work has largely remained unchanged. Conducting work within a business environment has always involved bringing people together in a single physical location for a specified length of time to execute tasks. Historically too, this has been the only choice.

Shifting workplaces: As new technologies take hold, CXO’s attitudes toward requiring people to be physically present are also changing. The basic connotations of “showing up for work” and “normal working hours” are changing. Today most businesses in established markets allow work from anywhere and anytime. With increased globalization, the physical place of work is shifting from office to homes and from conference rooms to airport lounges.

Telecommuting is becoming a norm regardless of the size of the company. If a company does not have a formal telecommuting policy, they should set up a task force to begin developing such a policy. Even if the business does not require it, the employees will demand it. And over the years it will be considered an important perk and differentiator in retaining and motivating employees.

CXOs, irrespective of the size of their companies, agree that allowing employees to work from home benefits their business and mobility solutions seem to not only have improved productivity, but also enhanced the quality of work and redundant communication. Surveys by Techaisle said that nearly 62 percent of businesses see improved productivity as employees can work from anywhere and anytime.

What is noteworthy is that in some emerging market countries, 40 percent of businesses mention that mobility reduces stress levels of employees by letting them spend more time with the family.

Shifting Communication Devices: While typical landlines were the formal mode of communication, today it is the ubiquitous smart phone that is taking over. Where VoIP was a nomenclature, today Skype and web-conferencing are becoming verbs. Emails will remain the predominant form of asynchronous communication; however, there is a massive shift of emails from the PC platform to a smart phone platform.

What will make it difficult for the CXOs is the insistence of employees to bring their own preferred device into the work environment from smart phones to tablets and other consumer-like applications. It took Apple more than a decade to find itself accepted in a typical business setting but it will take only a few short years for today’s devices to proliferate.

Many CXOs still have not implemented a formal procedure to allow or not allow personal devices into work environment, not because they do not want to but they do not know how to. IT Vendors and partners can help in bridging that practical knowledge and experience gap by introducing real world examples and case studies. In fact, CXOs should demand it of their vendor partners.

Device Management – an oft Ignored Priority: Going down the route of mobility is also fraught with unexpected surprises - most important being accidental loss of device with company data, employee walking off with device or malware creating havoc with the device. Surveys by Techaisle reveal that CXOs worry about these issues a lot but fail to protect themselves adequately. For example, among the businesses that have begun adopting mobility, 69 percent of IT Decision makers in the mature markets and 72 percent within emerging markets are concerned about accidental loss of devices containing sensitive data. And nearly a third of these decision makers are also concerned about inability to manage device configurations so that they comply with company policies. To top it all, there is the issue of managing employee devices that businesses did not buy.

The need for device and data security for mobile devices may be an important deterrent in mobility adoption, especially as consumer and business applications constitute the same devices. However, this also clearly demonstrates the need for remote management, authentication, and remote erasure of data on mobile devices. Data no longer resides on tethered devices such as desktops but is spread across multiple devices that “move”. If planned for, mobility will be an enjoyable and productive experience.

Anurag Agrawal
Techaisle
Anurag@cxotoday.com

Anurag Agrawal is the CEO of Techaisle, a global market research and consulting company focused on SMBs and Channels. Prior to Techaisle, Anurag headed Gartner’s Worldwide Research Operations and before that was with IDC.