Give small businesses the right technology, and they’ll quickly cut enterprise Goliaths down to size. Nowhere is this more evident than in the world of mobility. The right mix of mobile devices and apps can level the playing field for small and medium-sized businesses on two fronts: enhanced customer engagement and more efficient internal operations.
To get the most out of their mobility investments, SMBs must align a practical mobile strategy with business goals and incorporate device management and security throughout. Ignoring these realities can prove expensive: I’ve seen SMBs who stumble with mobility actually harm customer service and risk driving customers away.
Mobility Offers New Opportunities for SMBs
The power of mobility is on display every day in my suburban Chicago community. Our downtown is full of mom and pop shops — by design. Zoning codes keep large national chains off Main Street, but that doesn’t eliminate competition from large companies. Drive a short distance out of town, and you’ll find almost any big box store you can imagine. The challenge is clear: Local SMBs must give customers clear reasons to keep coming back.
Mobility helps do just that. For example, one local pizza shop makes phenomenal pies and seals the deal with a web presence that makes online ordering easy for consumers. The value proposition is clear: Offering great pizza plus a compelling customer experience leaves little reason for people to look elsewhere when they’re hungry.
Another local restaurant, unfortunately, hasn’t learned this lesson. Lack of integration between its online and physical worlds has left some patrons waiting hours before their carry-out orders are ready for pick up. That’s no way to attract new, digitally savvy customers who aren’t always interested in sit-down dining.
Customer engagement is only one reason to double-down on mobility. Retailers, professional associations and other SMBs also use apps designed for an on-the-go world to bring new efficiency to internal operations. This happens when IT managers deliver programs that make valuable information about clients and products available to employees whenever and wherever they’re working.
The Need for Mobile Security
Success on both fronts starts with reliable mobile device management. Look for solutions that can quickly wipe corporate data off a device if it’s lost or stolen. The best MDM options also let IT managers centrally enforce security and access policies to further ensure that unauthorized people can’t see customer lists, internal emails or other vital resources.
CDW offers SMBs a free mobile policy checklist to help companies create the right protection policies.
With a solid management foundation in place, SMBs decide on their must-have mobile apps. Start with the basics: email and office automation solutions, such as Microsoft Office 365 or Google Apps for Work. Then, to facilitate collaboration among people in different locations, consider Box. The online file sharing and collaboration service lets team members move all types of files to the cloud and securely designate who’s authorized to view, edit and comment on the files. Box even supports highly regulated industries, so doctors’ offices can manage patient records confidently with HIPAA compliance in mind.
Smaller companies will continue to butt heads with large, deep-pocketed enterprise competitors. But with the right mobile strategy, SMBs don’t have to be the underdogs anymore.
To learn more about the four key technology trends small businesses should be following this year, check out, "Small Businesses Must Heed Cloud, Security, Mobility and IT Services Trends in 2016."