With the ubiquity of mobile devices—smartphones, tablets and even phablets—in the workplace today, it’s hard to imagine getting work done without them. Our smartphones still provide our phone calls and text messages but also bring us our email, manage our calendars, keep track of our notes and even connect us to our meetings. Our tablets bring all the power of our laptops into a slimmer, more portable form factor, allowing for spontaneous collaboration and remote work. In fact, Forrester Research characterizes 29% of the global workforce as anytime, anywhere information workers, defined as using three or more devices, working from multiple locations and using many apps. The functions provided by our smartphones and tablets are vital to getting business done in today’s modern, fast-paced and cloud-based workplace, and these mobile devices are having a significant impact on our business environments.
Empowering Mobile Professionals
The biggest and most obvious impact of the proliferation of mobile devices in the workplace is the expansion of remote and flexible work options. Once reserved for a select few roles and responsibilities, the idea of teleworking has become widespread, spanning businesses and departments of all sizes and industries. Since 2005, telecommuting has grown 73% across all sectors. The sheer power and flexibility of our smartphones and tablets has brought all the functionality of our work computers in a much more convenient form factor than even the laptop. Built-in Wi-Fi, high definition forward- and rear-facing cameras, cellular data connections and Bluetooth capabilities are just a few of the hardware features that make our mobile devices such powerful work companions, empowering online file sharing, email, instant messaging and video collaboration.
Changing User Expectations
According to a recent Flurry study, we spend 80% of our time on our mobile devices using apps, as compared to 20% browsing the web. The app revolution has completely changed the nature of our smartphones, given rise to the tablet and made software more accessible, intuitive and flexible than ever before. As a result of the popularity of apps and the BYOD movement, users now expect software to be simple, straightforward and useful. Software should stay out of your way, bringing you the benefits of technology without the headaches that have traditionally been associated with installing, maintaining and using software in the past. Companies are changing their user interface and user experience design methodologies to more closely match the simplicity of mobile apps even on their desktop and laptop offerings; this not only provides a better experience for the end user but also a consistent experience across platforms.
Evolving IT’s Role
I recently wrote at length about the changing nature of IT in the face of the expanding BYOD movement. The overall role of IT is going to continue to change and evolve as work shifts from the desktop to the laptop, from the desk phone to the smartphone, and from antiquated software to powerful mobile apps. The challenges of managing this new and open infrastructure will force IT departments to reevaluate their processes, priorities and security methodologies. As a result, IT will continue to be one of the biggest obstacles to widespread adoption of mobility; not from the point of view of being resistant to change, but rather ensuring that change happens in a secure and sustainable way.
Learn more about the changing nature of the mobile professional in PGi’s free eBook, The Yin + Yang of Telecommuting.