They tell us when to wake up, what the weather is like, and what our friends got up to on the long weekend. Without a doubt, smartphones have become our very committed – and very present – personal assistants. But can they begin to replace our offices and our colleagues, especially when we think about World 2.0?
At this point, it depends on whom you ask.
Ulrik Nehammer, GM at Coca Cola, has stated that he conducts most of his business directly from his smartphone, noting, “The most dangerous place to make a decision is within the office.”
He’s certainly not alone – with other corporate high flyers extolling the virtues of running their affairs on the go. Larry Page, CEO and co-founder of Google Inc. makes a point of attending meetings only with his phone – and encourages his staff to spend at least one day a week (every week) using only their mobiles for work affairs.
Notably, a survey carried out by Forbes Insights for Google revealed that nine out of ten executives used smartphones for business, even while they were in the office. The report also stated that some 10 per cent said smartphones were their exclusive device used for decision-making.
Enhanced Customer Service
The reasons for this increasing reliance on smartphones are fairly obvious: every year, mobile capabilities and features become ever more slick and seamless. Thanks to the proliferation of cloud applications for business, it’s now possible to store vast quantities of customer and company data online – and to securely access such data from anywhere, anytime…
This enables executives and employees to respond almost immediately to customer and staff inquiries, to work where it is most conducive for personal productivity and creativity, and to cut down on expensive IT costs.
Managing the Risks
Of course, the shift to mobile doesn’t mean that you should cancel the lease on your office and throw your laptop away.
As with any technology trend, there are downsides to relying on your smartphone for work affairs. For starters, it cuts down on face-to-face interactions with clients and staff, which are still valuable and important for various reasons (motivation, company culture, relationship building, etc). Making an effort to see clients and staff on a regular and structured basis can easily solve this particular challenge.
The other downside is security and the possible risk to data and IP that ensues if a personal smartphone is lost or misplaced. Again, however, putting the right security measures in place and backing up key data can mitigate this risk.
Lastly, one of the main barriers to smashing up your desk and going full-on mobile is related to the software you’re using within your company. For example, if you’re using bespoke or proprietary software that’s installed on your office computers, you’ll find it near impossible to work with these systems on your smartphone. This is precisely where cloud-based software comes into its own: if you’re using web-based business apps to run your business, it gives you much more freedom – since all the data is hosted securely online and can be accessed from anywhere, at any time!
Looking ahead, many of the major cloud enterprise software providers are investing heavily in mobile capabilities. According to GetApp’s business app ranking report, GetRank, 22 of the top 25 CRMs have their own mobile apps. Also, the presence of a mobile app is a factor that’s becoming increasingly important for small business owners when choosing apps for their company.
Whether you’re a high-powered, globe-trotting executive, an employee or a small business owner, your smartphone will undoubtedly become an increasingly important part of your enterprise toolkit. As always, keep online security top of mind and stay abreast of the major security trends that affect mobile devices.