When digital workplace meets mobile
For several years we have been witnessing the changes that are taking place in the Digital Workplace area. At the same time, experts are turning their eyes to mobile and bode for another year subordinated to this trend. Is there a place for mobile solutions in the digital work environment?
If so, how it will affect the efficiency of the work we do?
I recently came across an interesting presentation published by Jane McConnell, a French-born specialist in Digital Workplace. The content of her thoughts was on the latest Digital Workplace Trends 2021 report:
After analyzing the results of the survey, I began to think about the real changes it could bring mobile in the digital workplace environment. Statistics from the market support the theory of a possible revolution – the data clearly shows that mobile tools will reign in the coming years at the expense of desktop devices. In the world of e-commerce or e-banking, mobile has ceased to be a “toy” for innovators and is slowly becoming an important part of building a business strategy.
How do European companies using the electronic work environment look against this background?
According to the report in question, although the boom in mobile solutions is ahead of us, their value is already beginning to be significant, although a significant breakthrough has yet to be seen (chart below). The survey of 300 companies showed that approx 15% of companies intend to allocate adequate resources for these activities, and among the 50 most innovative players, as many as 35% of companies consider mobile a high-priority investment area.
The data on user groups and the areas in which these technologies have been implemented is interesting.
The above summary shows that smartphones and tablets were created to primarily fulfill the needs of executives and managers (strategic information management, executive reports, managers on business trips and project management). This is the group that travels most often for business, and at the same time their accessibility and ability to make business decisions is in many cases critical to the company’s operations. The working time of these people is so valuable that raising adequate funds to supply them with new tools is not a problem.
The second group that has gained access to mobile are employees who use the so-called “mobile phones. solutions Employee Self-Service. These tools give them the ability to view their data, enter HR and payroll information or absence requests.
At the bottom of this list are line workers who perform their tasks outside the company and during non-standard working hours. These are salespeople or employees responsible for handling emergencies.
Interestingly, for innovative organizations (early adopters), the ratios have different proportions – within 50% for the last group. These companies have invested more in the range of applications for line employees, which may indicate that they are potentially generating Greater benefits than in management areas.
In summary, innovators are already using mobile solutions extensively, the rest are just considering them. I think we can expect a significant breakthrough here within 2-3 years, which usually occurs when a technology trend becomes a daily reality in more than 25% of companies.
Before you get into mobile mode
Analyzing the dilemma of the usefulness of mobile solutions, at least five areas come to mind that need to be considered for such an investment.
Expectations for the productivity of our work are constantly rising. On the one hand, we are feeling salary pressure, while on the other hand, global competition is forcing us to work more efficiently. Can we afford to drive a good but uneconomical car from the 1960s. In our daily work, while our employees drive hybrids? How does the economy and competitiveness relate to this?
That’s with the help of mobile devices, which help raise productivity even if only by giving employees the ability to handle important queries from their phones while on a business trip.
- EMPLOYER BRANDING
An important part of business strategy today is to ensure the right image among employees. Demographic low, increased demand for professionals makes the struggle in the labor market increasingly ruthless. According to the Cisco Report, more than three out of four employees (77%) have several devices, such as a laptop and a smartphone, or several phones and computers. What’s more, most of them believe that it should be allowed to use company-provided devices for personal use as well.
The question is whether in this reality we can afford the image of a “muscle car” owner?
For many young people, the lack of mobile solutions makes it very difficult for them to perform their tasks. This is often a source of unnecessary stress, frustration and downtime at work. The world and people are changing faster than organizations. As a result, there is an increased demand for employees to adapt their work environment to modern solutions.
It is not uncommon for companies to withhold investment in mobile solutions due to increased security risks and difficulties in protecting data. But is blocking mobile access as a poorly controlled source to company IT resources a good solution? Security of our systems is an important thing.
I have seen cases when entire projects or departments used public cloud solutions including email to be able to work remotely, while officially the company had an advanced collaboration system costly and useful as a battleship in the reality of World War III.
- THE WAY OF INVESTMENT
Do we have to own everything? The advent of leasing has at some point given a strong impetus to companies to develop. So in terms of mobility, do we have to acquire everything ourselves? Are we able to cope with this?
Or maybe employees should buy the equipment themselves, and employers should only contribute to the cost of the equipment? These are questions that each business must answer individually.
Mobile in practice
In many business meetings I hear conversations about new phones, sensational “apps downloaded from the track” and new gadgets. We spend a really long time selecting the right hardware and experimenting with it. However, when it comes to the hardware needed for the work, we do not take analogous trouble.
When deciding to introduce mobile solutions into an organization, we choose the previously proven ones. The most common practice is to add a mobile version to an existing work tool:
One tool at work = one mobile application
Unfortunately, this path is often less effective, as it ignores the analysis of user needs. Hence, we do not know what remote work should look like and what it looks like on a mobile device. However, it turns out that the needs we have when working on mobile have nothing to do with the application of office work tools. It doesn’t make sense to duplicate the same solution in subsequent interfaces for 3 reasons:
- the type of device means that some functions will not be useful and the whole user interface needs a deep redesign
- There are needs that only exist when working remotely or stationary, so there is no possibility and no sense to standardize them. As an example, we will not change the system configuration or add new reports in the mobile application. On the other hand, it may be important to transparently review the data, e.g. By scanning the QRCode from the customer’s document and calling up the case history from the CRM.
- The need for contextual access to data. During a meeting with an investor or client, an immediate answer is often needed. There are times when there is no opportunity or time to search for it in multiple applications. Either it is available quickly and easily or there is no point in providing it, because with the interface barrier we will not manage to use it
Mobile digital workplace can not be a perfect copy of “big brother” transferred to mobile applications. A mobile electronic work environment should combine mobile views and a business process optimization application.
The basis of a successful mobile digital workplace strategy is therefore to focus on the following aspects:
- Target: What is the goal of the employee to achieve? What are its tasks? There is no room for unnecessary content on the phone screen, we need to support only the most important objectives and focus on business orientation.
- Context: also the information and options available in the menus need to be contextual. Tailored to the site, the customer, the use case in the process.
- Multiplatform: the fact that information has to be provided not by data source but by processes means that it has to come from multiple office systems, sometimes made with different technologies
- User experience: the user experience will be largely driven by the previous 3 aspects, but we must not forget that its design is based on a user centric design approach, which is an essential part of the design.
Changing the course of history
Paradoxically, the challenges discussed above that we face in approaching the mobile scope of the digital workplace are at the same time a huge opportunity for it. Traditional desktop and web applications, old modules, entanglements in dependencies or even competition between systems that overlap scopes and compete for data and users are part of the story. With the right approach to mobile design, we have a chance to cut ourselves off from history and design our mobile app world in a way that meets our current needs and realities.