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Mobility for a global business environment

Posted by Chad O'Connor  June 27, 2013 10:05 AM

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When you think of enterprise mobility today, do you think of a traveling or remote workforce? That’s part of it, but far from complete. Even in a company with a singular location, time spent behind desks is dwindling. Workers are dashing between meetings, teaming in hallways or conference rooms and perhaps including remotely distributed teammates beyond the “normal” workday. That means workers need to be just as, if not more productive in and out of the office. Business leaders shouldn’t just be concerned with “remote” or “mobile” workers. Nearly everyone is carrying a device and there is immense opportunity to transform organizations through mobility.

Workers are accustomed to using mobile apps. With that, they expect mobility and easy-to-use technology to get things done – and quickly. Plus, devices have become a very personal choice – they are extensions of the employee and office. This blends the lines between work and personal lives during the day, night and over the weekends. Employees want to use devices of their own choice and they want to have a consumer-like experience when using them for work. If companies have a device in an employee’s hands, it’s a matter of getting employees to use their mobile device the right way.

The New Mobile Mad Men
When it comes to marketing and sales employees, individuals notorious for being mobile, a savvy business leader would be crazy to keep them chained to a desk or hindered by mobility restrictions. This group should be at maximum levels of productivity while on-the-go. They need and are hungry for apps that help them become more productive and give them access to hundreds of resources anytime, anywhere.

Here are a few ways they can benefit from a top-notch mobile environment -

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Tools: Marketing and sales teams need access to customer records, email campaigns and more. Being able to tap into this data minutes before meeting with customers can refresh their understanding of an account. They can also track new ideas for an account in real-time or jot down an idea on-the-fly.

Product Catalogs, Presentations and Demos: Tablets are much less intrusive than a laptop and projector. Placing rich, interactive content on tablets enables a sales force to have a more natural side-by-side conversation with customers. Even better, with mobile content management capabilities, sales reps have up-to-date product and customer information at their fingertips, making them look even more informed and in-tune with customer needs. There are several great mobile content management apps that make securely distributing sales presentations, marketing collateral and other sales tools a breeze.

Proposal and Contract Management: Similar to product catalogs, presentations and demos, having instant access to current pricing and contract information means sales reps can complete sales quotes on-site and in real-time, making the interaction with customers even more natural.

Product and Task Management + Event Management and Lead Tracking: Efficiency skyrockets when team members are able to assess a particular project status in real-time, allowing for questions to be asked and ideas to be shared.

That’s Easy, Right?
The challenge is getting the right apps into the hands of the workers who need them. Problem is, many businesses don’t know how to do this without involving IT.

The fix? First, talk to users to consider how mobility can augment their business processes or make possible new processes and productivity then source or build the apps.

“Curating” off-the-shelf apps: These are readily available for sales and marketing teams. Leadership can review these apps on public app stores or from mobile app solution providers and then cherry pick the best ones for their teams based on business conditions and needs.

Custom apps: Sales and marketing teams may have specific needs that will not be met entirely by off the shelf apps. There are now some great app development platforms that have libraries and templates available to help enterprises kick-start things. While some technical and development skills are needed, there are now more contractors and individual developers available for hire with these skills.

With a few great apps in hand, the next trick is to get them deployed and adopted. Here’s where the availability of highly customizable private “app stores” makes things easier – and fun for workers. These allow organizations to collect and display their curated or custom apps in “consumer-like” catalogs while ensuring consistent apps, security, control and support. They can also present custom views based on user groups, so employees only see the apps relevant to them. This is much easier and much more secure than trying to navigate the some 1,000,000+ apps in public app stores.

How?

It’s as easy as 1-2-3:

1. Upload App or Content: Unlock the value of mobile apps to improve revenue, productivity and customer experience

2. Invite Users: Deliver apps that are important to your field into the hands of those who need them

3. Drive Users to Install App: Provide sales teams access to up-to-date collateral, presentations and sales tools

This is all done with minimal IT involvement – in fact, your own sales teams can make updates themselves. With enterprise mobility made so simple, there’s no excuse to place restrictions on mobile device use in the office or limit information access to a mobile team. Organizations that fail to provide these solutions and tools will come off as stodgy, and, pretty soon, attracting and retaining the best and brightest talent will become hard.

Companies that can successfully tap into the personal-professional connection brought about by BYOD, while also respecting a user’s device choice and privacy, will find that a more conducive relationship is built with their workforce, meaning happy and productive employees – all good things.

Mark Lorion is Chief Marketing Officer at Apperian, an enterprise mobility and mobile application management company headquartered in Boston.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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