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Mobile access to your company information: who needs it?

  Mobile technology – especially heavy use of smartphones -- is often a double-edged sword.“It’s made things more complicated because you can’t get away from anything,” Rick Wamre, co-founder of  The Advocate, recently said about his company’s adoption of cloud-based business processes. Remote access to company data fundamentally – and dramatically – alters our perception of, “the office.” It’s no longer four walls and a roof that house the keystrokes and conversations that comprise the workday. Rather, it’s your accounting manager approving payroll while on a flight to Los Angeles. A customer relations staffer responding to a late-night tweet from an angry customer in her home office. Or a salesperson checking on the progress of an order for a client at a trade show. The Same, But Different For the most part, your staff continues to do the same work they were doing pre-mobility. But remote access to files and applications lets you operate as a 24/7 global operation. I’m not just talking about an Oh-boy-I-can-work-in-my-jammies corporate culture. While that may be true in some cases, mobile technology presents you and your employees with flexibility that usually results in better business outcomes. How? It’s simple. You trust your employees to use expensive company equipment responsibly and get their work done even when they’re not monitored on-site. This changes the dynamics of your relationships with them; staff feels more valued and motivated. Work becomes an integrated part of their lives, not just an obligation they fulfill in the same space at the same time every week. A New, More Positive Perception Mobile technology helps you become a more nimble organization that can react quickly to both good and bad situations. Customers no longer see you as a 9-5 shop. You’re a group of individuals that functions within an organic entity that is helping them solve their personal and professional problems. Unless you’re a retail business or professional services company that needs a physical location for customers to visit, remote access tools are sophisticated enough that you can be a virtual operation with employees scattered around the world. Given today’s technology, your customers may not even know that. Possibilities for Everyone It’s hard to think of a business function that couldn’t benefit from implementing mobile technology for at least part of its work. Consider these examples:
  • Accounting. Pay bills, service payroll, check on inventory, make collections calls, etc.
  • Sales. Access customer data during sales calls, create invoices, accept payments and build records for new customers
  • Road warriors. Keep up with expense reports and work projects
  • Customer relations. Maintain social media presence, provide fast responses (potentially averting public relation disasters)
  • Management. Access critical financial reports, monitor sales progress and product development, collaborate on tasks
  • Everyone. Stay connected wherever they are 24/7 (facilitating telecommuting, Results Only Work Environment (ROWE)
The Inevitable Downsides No technological progress comes without drawbacks. Though we haven’t seen the level of intrusion with mobile devices that we have with desktop computers and networks, security is bound to become more of an issue. Telecommuting can improve customer service and increase productivity, but it can also cause dissent and estrangement in the ranks. Yahoo! And Best Buy are currently revisiting their policies. And just as in-office hardware and software can be expensive and require frequent maintenance, remote workers can also ring up significant purchase, service and access costs. So it’s a balancing act at this point. As Wamre's experience teaches:
  • Define your needs
  • Approach mobile integration in stages
  • Keep plenty of backup
Implementation of mobile technology should be viewed as a marathon, not a sprint. Read more: 5 mobile apps to simplify the tax season 5 ways to use mobile technology to boost recruiting efforts Mobile asset management