Whether it’s a builder en route to the office reaching a superintendent in the field via smartphone or a consultant collaborating on a tablet with colleagues across the country, mobile technology drives business success today.
A new study, The Mobility Edge: CDW’s 2012 Small Business Mobility Report, finds that 94 percent of small-business users surveyed say their mobile devices make them more efficient, while 67 percent believe their companies would lose competitive ground without those tools. Based on responses from 752 mobile device users and IT professionals from U.S. small businesses in five industries, the report focuses on trends such as bring-your-own-device (BYOD) initiatives and mobile apps.
Small-business users consider productivity and business apps on mobile devices to be game-changers that make them more efficient and competitive. Sixty percent say smartphones have made the greatest change in the way their company does business.
Ask builders or contractors about their smartphones, and more often than not they’ll tell you they live on the devices. A full 85 percent of construction respondents view mobile devices as critical to their jobs. Steve Kendrick, owner of Structures Building Company in Mt. Pleasant, S.C., says his 10 project managers rely on Android phones for communication (primarily voice and e-mail). By the end of the year, he will begin piloting tablets to provide project managers with access to plans, specifications and subcontractor proposals in the field via Dropbox.
Dealing with Mobility Growing Pains
The rapid expansion of mobile devices in business does not come without its challenges. This burgeoning demand also calls for solutions to manage and secure mobile devices. According to the CDW report, 22 percent of small business IT managers say their company has deployed or plans to deploy mobile device management software.
IT managers in companies that have deployed MDM solutions cite numerous benefits, including IT security (53 percent), workforce productivity (46 percent) and backup and disaster recovery (34 percent).
As innovative mobile devices continue to hit the market, businesses will need some time to adjust. Here are some recommendations for getting the most out of a company’s mobile devices:
- Secure personal mobile devices. Recognize that 89 percent of small-business employees use their own personal devices for work. Protect your network and data accordingly.
- Add MDM. MDM software can simplify policy, security and other facets of management. Speak to providers to find out which solution best fits the company.
- Consider mobile application management. MAM solutions encourage consistent use of apps across an organization, simplify collaboration, protect the company’s data and reduce employee resistance to MDM as BYOD evolves.
- Research mobility management services. Some providers offer cost-effective management of devices and apps, including inventory control, carrier management, provisioning, help desk and lifecycle management.
- Get customers involved. Mobility benefits customers, too. Consider offering them mobile apps and optimizing your website for mobile platforms.
Additionally, there’s no better way to show the outside world that your company understands mobility than by having sites optimized for mobile devices. Businesspeople have used mobile devices for years. But with the growth of apps for smartphones and tablets — and tools to manage them — small and medium-sized businesses can stay agile and compete amidst consolidation, globalization and a jobless recovery.