The Evolution Of Mobile Technology In The Workplace
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We all use mobile technology of some sort or another in our day to day working lives, but how is this technology evolving and what impact does it have on productivity, convenience and the way in which we work?
The Changing world of mobile technology
With an ever increasing mobile workforce and an increase in flexible working, maintaining employee productivity when out of the office environment is an area that requires serious thought and potential investment. Services such as Skype and Microsoft Messenger have been part of daily life for sometime now. However, until recent years these have been restricted to desktop use. Now we can use these services on the go often saving time and money to the business.
In recent years the number of different devices, services and, as a result, software types has increased a great deal. This leads to greater choice for the consumer when it comes to choosing the best device for their specific requirements. Coupled with this, the option to store your files in ‘the cloud’ allows access to your virtual office from pretty much anywhere.
One issue that will have to be addressed by businesses is the compatibility between all of these devices and their individual software platforms. Many iPhone business apps do enable you to output to a compatible file type, however this is sometimes as a screenshot or PDF document, due to the format of these files they become ‘uneditable’ from that point on. However, this is expected to become less of an issue as these devices and their software evolve.
Why mobile technology is so important
According to a recent study by TNS Global, commissioned by Dell and Intel, 6 out of 10 workers agree that it is important to keep up to date with the latest technology in order to be effective at work. There is a divide between those employees that are willing to embrace new technology and those that are not however. Younger workers are more willing to use personal devices for business processes. However more junior staff are often not supplied newer technology by their employee and so are forced to use personal devices as a ‘workaround’.
Below is an extract from ‘The Evolving Workforce, report #3″ from the study;
“A majority of workers around the world perceive technology and devices provided by work as a ‘perk of the job.’ 57% of workers perceive workplace technology as a perk with 66% believing it will be in the future.”
Internet based services have become part of day to day office life too. With the luxury of on line meetings, presentations and demonstrations there is less of a need for Account Manager’s and company representatives to travel for hours to visit a client or partner for a half hour meeting. Services such as Webex and GoToMeeting enable feature rich on line sessions including desktop and application specific sharing, conference calling and even video conference. One advantage of a virtual meeting is that quite often the presenter will have direct access to other resources within the business in order to answer specific questions. For example;
When attending an on site demonstration meeting, the Sales person is asked a particularly technical question for which he does not have a suitable answer for. The sales person can either stop the meeting while he tries to contact a product developer or service desk, or take the question away from the meeting and answer it at a later time. Neither of these scenarios are ideal and may, if the answer is inaccurate, damage the client/supplier relationship. If however, the meeting has been carried out on line then the developer or service desk would be immediately accessible by the sales person and able to answer the query quickly and in full. They can even take over as the presenter for a short time to visually explain the answer.
The ability to host virtual meetings also has the added advantage of being kinder to the environment which everybody should be in favour of. In fact, many company’s publicise their ‘green’ approach to business through the use of such technology (and so they should).
Another important element of the business life which has been made easier via mobile technology is networking. Apps such as LinkedIn, CardMunch and even Twitter allow individuals to learn about a prospective contact or client before even meeting them. No longer are business cards required, all of the information needed is online and accessible via a mobile device or desktop.
The majority of future contacts, from all walks of life , will have an on line profile of some kind. Whether this be on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or even sites such as Instagram or Google+. The advantage (from both sides) is that there is already an air of familiarity, even before the 1st face to face meeting, both parties are able to gain an understanding about the other. Not only in terms of professionalism, but also interests, personal projects, hobbies etc, giving an insight into that person and potentially an advantage when building a working relationship.
As technology continues to evolve, diversify and integrate into every aspect of our lives, both social and professional, businesses will also have to evolve to embrace the advantages that these technological advancements offer.
In a previous article we listed some excellent apps available on the iPhone for business use. As well as this CIPHR has a mobile app for use in conjunction with CIPHR Net.