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According to research bureaus like IDC, a large number of companies rate mobility as a top priority. At the same time, it’s an umbrella term that covers a lot of different factors: from mobile devices and apps to connecting machines. Mobility changes your company in a good way. And when all you need are seven steps, it’s definitely time for a business transformation.
Choose the right communication formula
The first step is to choose communication formulas that also support mobile data communication. And this is one area that a reliable network is a priority. In recent years, mobile data communication has made an enormous splash in companies, as confirmed by Melissa Fremeijer, Senior Research Analyst in the field of Telecommunications & Networking at IDC. Furthermore, operators offer flexible data formulas with which you can meet the needs of different user profiles.
Choose an approach based on devices
Today, there are three types of devices that are appearing in companies: computers (with portable computers or laptops becoming more and more common), smartphones and tablets. "I think that we will be working with these three types of devices for a lot longer," says Pieterjan Bouten, co-founder of Showpad. "Not everything is suitable for every device." The eponymous applications that his company developed, and that makes better communication between Sales and Marketing possible, is first and foremost intended for use on tablets.
"Nowadays, for salespersons and marketers, the tablet is the preferred device. Ideal for consuming content," states Bouten. "But I don’t see the traditional computer disappearing straight away. You and your colleagues will often, and for a long time yet, be using three devices: computer, tablet and a smartphone."
Choose a management approach
Some companies choose the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) approach where employers use their own devices at work. Other companies have implemented Choose Your Own Device (CYOD) where they can choose from pre-defined types. In both cases, tablets and smartphones need to be managed. "You notice that applications for the management and security of mobile devices have silently infiltrated the business world. It’s a new reality for an IT department," explains Bouten. This refers to the mobile device management systems which companies are now evaluating and installing or using as a service in the cloud. "The advance of these applications is no surprise. From our own research with West-European companies, it appears that security is a priority in the mobile initiatives that businesses are taking today," says Melissa Fremeijer from IDC.
Choose an approach based on applications
The actual benefits of mobile devices are to be found in the applications or apps. There is a trend towards software applications that are destined solely for mobile use. They allow employees to perform tasks while on the road. For example, a maker and installer of kitchen range hoods can make the necessary measurements and registrations while in the client’s kitchen. "A lot of companies are investing in this sort of application. It often involves bringing new software applications in-house, specifically for mobile use," says Pieterjan Bouten. According to him, it is difficult to translate existing business software, such as so-called ERP packets, into a mobile format. "The software is best being developed for the mobile format of the tablet or smartphone from the very start," believes Bouten. With Showpad, Bouten strives for the mobile-first approach.
Choose an approach based on the connecting of machines
It’s not just people being connected–machines are too. From vehicles and machinery to vending machines. They supply companies with context related information; e.g. where a machine or vehicle is. Or they immediately provide up-to-the-minute remote data on the use of a drink machine for example. In the case of mobility, the big growth area relates to machines. There will soon be more machines connected than people.
"In 2020, there will be about 30 billion machines or objects connected via a network," says Melissa Fremeijer. According to her, it will be vital for companies to look at what the Internet of Things trend could mean for them. For example, a company that leases vehicles will have a full overview of their fleet and also receive information about the status of the vehicle, allowing faster and more targeted preventative maintenance.
"The rise of the connected machines is becoming highly significant," states Fremeijer. "Where all collected data was just a passive source of information, the challenge for ICT now consists of creating an innovation-driver for the company. This leads to growth and turnover. From the source of the information, ICT have now become a driving force for innovation."
Choose a mobile strategy
All previous measures are best bundled into a mobile strategy. From research by the industry magazine ‘Data News’ and Orange, it became apparent last year that one company in three was employing a mobile strategy. This appears to be gathering momentum. More recent research by Smart Business, another industry magazine, points out that today, mobility is in the top three IT priorities for Belgian companies. "A lot of companies are choosing a mobile strategy today. It wasn’t the case three to four years ago, but nowadays, every middle-to large-sized company has considered what they want to initiate with mobility. I notice this in the Request For Proposals (RFPs) that I receive as a supplier," confirms Pieterjan Bouten. "Companies have learnt from the past. Back then, tablets were being purchased without any thought about what they would actually have to do. Today, there is considerably more consideration of the business processes and their efficiency, as well as security and management."
Choose business transformation
Mobility does more than just this: it transforms your company. A number of mobile applications shook entire sectors to their roots. There are also Belgian examples of mobile apps or concepts that (could) have a major impact on a sector. Pieterjan Bouten uses the example of Posios, a mobile application that is used in restaurants or cafés as a cash-register app on an iPad. Waiters can also record their orders on iPhones or iPads at the same time. "Posios could bring about a revolution in the (Belgian) market for cash-register systems, that had previously been firmly closed," says Bouten. In every industry, more and more applications of the sort are appearing, with not just the ability to improve the working of a sector, but of companies themselves. "Mobility is a catalyst. It forces you to get to the essence of your business model," says Bouten reflectively. "Companies and consumers can only benefit from it."
A few figures
Mobility everywhere (In a nutshell: the must-read figures on mobility)
57% of the employees
in Belgium can call themselves mobile employees. Mobile means: on the job, at home and in the office, because even there they’re known to move around the workplace.
13% more income from the sale
of smartphones and tablets, which is responsible for 60% of growth in the IT industry.
30 billion connected machines
will be found around the world in 2020, including cars, medical apparatus and consumer electronics. Good for a turnover of 9 trillion dollars.