IDC predict that by next year the world's mobile worker population will reach 1.3 billion – or 37.2% of the total workforce. Yet a recent study shows that more than half of enterprise users are dissatisfied with today’s collaboration tools.*
Large organisations have to manage multiple ‘siloed’ teams that have a need to work together; these teams are often in different locations when the need arises for them to collaborate. This makes it challenging to transfer knowledge and information easily and quickly when perhaps all you have is email and the telephone. Thus sharing information has become incredibly complex: different devices, different applications, different places to store information, different objectives, different tasks and differing skillsets!
So the work may be piling up, but with a less than effective communications infrastructure you’ll soon hit your ceiling. It’s difficult to manage current contracts and impossible to service new ones well.
We see the top 3 current challenges faced by organisations with field and desk-based teams as:
1. Collaboration challenges
"Can you access this document? No? Where’s the information about X? I can’t see it at the moment”. Field staff such as sales people, support teams, mobile healthcare workers, construction professionals and maintenance teams are unable to collaborate to best effect without the right tools. Without effective collaboration between desk-based and field staff, productivity and speed of response and quality of work is diminished. An absence of the right devices, right information and in a timely manner will prevent the user from giving that level of service that is expected. Access to office processes to discuss cases, submit data and provide information in real-time is becoming increasingly critical to maintaining customer relationships.
2. Security challenges
Are you aware of a rise in security compliance fines, but not sure if you fully comply? Document security is a top (and potentially expensive) challenge. According to the recent Experian report ‘2014 Data Breach Industry Forecast’: “over the past decade, we have seen an explosion of security incidents impacting millions of consumers worldwide. This shows no sign of slowing in the upcoming year with healthcare, energy, financial services, retail and telecom industries continuing to be top targets”. According to Symantec, data breaches cost some UK organisations up to £6.2m in 2010, and since then the threat landscape has become even more aggressive. IT and Operations teams tasked with security are faced with increasing risks associated with staff on the move and ‘anywhere’ access to sensitive documents. Securing data on devices to ensure risk is reduced and confidentiality is maintained is critical to a successful mobile strategy.
3. Document access challenges
Need to access a document right away to keep a customer happy but have to drive 100 miles first? Your field teams may have to return to the office to access and file reports, or they may have to return home and complete their updates in their own time. Information may get forgotten, not to mention increased fuel costs, travel time, customers receiving mixed messages, and deflated staff. Being able to read, edit and comment on documents on-the-fly is a real boon for productivity and effectiveness. When jobs are completed in super-quick time your teams can move onto the next task without double handling or additional driving. Ask yourself, if you could give back your field based people an hour a day, what could you do with that time? Mobilising processes can be highly beneficial for your people, your customers and your business.
The one sure-fire solution is unified cloud-based communications
With the long list of benefits provided by the cloud it’s easier than ever to manage those ‘siloed’ teams, from any location, even internationally. The cloud enables significantly higher degrees of communication, collaboration and security with little effort post-delivery.
With unified cloud-based communications your field teams can access and complete documentation ‘on the fly’. They will be able to find and join up the information they need to provide demanding customers with the correct data right away. Desk-based staff will be able to see this information in an instant and can collaborate on documents in real-time, securely. Lost or forgotten emails, scraps of paper with phone messages and multiple sources of information will be a thing of the past.
A final word
Before you jump in and invest in mobile workforce initiatives, make sure you define your short, medium and long term critical success factors, and how you will measure them. Being able to track Return On Mobility (ROM) spend doesn’t just happen by accident. To maximise ROM you need a considered, joined-up mobile workforce strategy, with project timescales and reporting capability firmly in place.