5 Tips for Empowering Your Mobile Workforce

If you're in the customer service business (and who isn't these days?!), you know that people are your greatest asset.  In a connected economy everyone in your entire workforce is an ambassador representing your organization's image and values to your customers and constituents and to the entire world.

At the same time we are moving toward a more flexible work environment.  The global economy is stretching the traditional 8:00-5:00 workday.  Doing business in different time zones demands responsive reaction before and after "normal" business hours.  To engage our workforce in meeting these demands we are exchanging increased flexibility for expanded availability of knowledge workers.

So, how do you empower your workforce to be more responsive and productive, whether or not they are in the office?  Here are five tips for improving mobile workforce performance:

1.  Enable Secure Business Content Interchange

According to Morgan Stanley we are about to cross the tipping point beyond which more web pages will be accessed on mobile devices than on PCs.  As the PC era fades the workforce will demand mobile access to actionable business content.  The Millennials are the newest faces in our organizations, and they have grown up with mobile.  To draw the best employees in the future we will have to provide mobile business experiences as interesting and powerful as consumer mobile experiences.  Driving secure actionable content and business intelligence to mobile devices with managed sharing, collaboration, and workflow approval functionality will improve the quality of the user experience, the speed and accuracy of decision-making, the level of customer support, and also improve cashflow.  

2.  Support the Devices They Already Have

Most knowledge workers in the U.S. already have smartphones and/or tablets.  They chose their devices because they reflect their lifestyles, and they spend a substantial amount of their time, at and away from work, interacting with them.  According to Gartner, they want business access from their preferred devices without compromising the usability of the device or personal applications.  As a result organizations are developing and implementing Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) policies to leverage the pervasiveness of devices and the preferences of employees.  Security emerges as a top concern.

3.  Use Secure Mobile Capture to Initiate Smart Processes

We all now have scanners in our pockets.  The quality of smartphone and tablet cameras enables capturing documents with high levels of definition.  But, digital photos are large and require substantial bandwidth and transmission time, and they reside on the camera roll which is relatively insecure.  To overcome these drawbacks you need to employ secure mobile capture capabilities which perfect and compress the document image on the device, keep the images out of the camera roll, and securely forward them to a workflow management server.  Kofax, a capture partner of Digital Designs, offers the state of the art in this capability.  This approach moves content capture to the point of origination and customer interaction for a more intimate customer experience.  It also enables touch-less processing, and accelerates the pace of business.  As a result, entire new use cases are being developed in a broad array of industries.

4.  Enforce Business Policies at the Device Level

Don't let your sensitive business content go social.  According to Gartner, security is the top concern of CIOs as they formulate their mobile strategy.  Secure mobile capture and delivery apps allow you to centrally manage business access authorizations and which documents can be copied, printed or shared.  In addition to compressing and perfecting document images so they are ready for data extraction, the images are not saved to the camera roll and are not available for further sharing.  The rules engine server on premises or in the cloud securely manages the entire chain of custody while capturing every touchpoint in an audit log.  Establish control of your business data on the device.  While your employees want mobile access to the content they need when they need it, they don't want to compromise their personal apps and data if their employer needs to purge data on a particular device for any reason.  Therefore device control is trending from mobile device management (MDM) in which the entire device is reset to "Containerization" which allows only the partition on the device where organizational content and apps reside to be remotely managed.

5.  Create Mobile Business Experiences People Will Love

Everyone who has a smartphone or tablet is heavily invested in the personal apps they use.  They choose their apps based on speed, simplicity, utility, engagement, fun, etc.  They will expect their business apps of the future to meet those same standards.  Our partner Infor, the third largest ERP solution provider after SAP and Oracle, announced a focus on the user experience and a "mobile-first" design philosophy at their Inforum 2013 conference two weeks ago.  CEO Charles Phillips announced that Infor is focused on changing the perception among users that "enterprise software sucks".  

Choose mobile content and delivery apps that are elegantly simple and allow people to take care of business as efficiently as possible.  Look for experience-rich apps that use "gamification" techniques to allow exploration and discovery to provide a more meaningful, more informed user experience.  Make sure apps are loosely-coupled to enterprise apps to provide faster, more simplified provisioning and minimize the impact on future enterprise upgrades. 

The pace of change is accelerating, and, to a large degree, technology is driving that change.  In the future we will need to deal with far more information and do it faster, and the future will arrive faster than we can imagine.  Now is the time to move forward with a proactive plan for empowering your mobile workforce.  

Until next time,

John Queen
Digital Designs
"Moving Business Beyond Paper"

Contact me to learn more about empowering your mobile workforce.