Productive mobile working is now a reality

Thursday 8 November 2012

Virtualisation

As the boundaries between work in the office and on the move blur, business leaders and employees are considering how best they can target productivity gains. More and more professional people are taking advantage of mobile working opportunities, in order to gain agility and flexibility, and reduce the amount of 'dead time' they spend each day. They are conscious of the need to maximise their mobile functionality - and this means selecting appropriate devices, platforms and operating systems.

Mobile workers have multiple options to choose from when it comes to media tablets and smartphones - both in terms of handsets and operating systems (OS). Such has been the response from consumers - eager to capitalise on web-connected mobile devices both at work and at play - that a wide range of manufacturers and developers have invested heavily in the industry. As such, choosing a best-fit mobile device is not always as straightforward a task as it seems. Buyers need to consider their end goals, practical requirements and personal preferences as they aim to select a best-fit device.

Why use mobile solutions?

The principle appeal of mobile technology in a business context is - on a very basic level - in mobility itself. The opportunity to work effectively on the move, free from the physical constraints of the office, represents a major advance for most companies. Employees can enjoy greater freedom to work in a way which suits them best, allowing them to achieve optimum performance and productivity levels. Indeed, by enabling workers to customise their own working day, mobile technology can add significant value to organisations large and small.

The mobility craved by business professionals is achievable due to the major advances in connectivity witnessed over the past few years. While mobile broadband has been around for the best part of a decade, the advent of faster download speeds, more reliable data transfers and more functional browsers has kick-started the mobile revolution. Handheld devices are no longer used simply to make calls or to send texts - for many people they are, above all else, a way of accessing the internet. Professional people can manage their email accounts, access files and documents held on company networks, and utilise apps and hosted services supported by the cloud.

Mobile devices 'now replacing PCs'

A recent IDC report highlighted the extent to which the mobile internet is being embraced by the masses. By 2016, the firm believes more people will use mobile devices as their primary vehicle for accessing the internet than personal computers. The firm said the US is leading this trend, with Western Europe and Japan around two years behind. The growing capabilities of mobile connections and web browsers mean consumers are increasingly satisfied with their online experience, and they see little point in turning on their computer and waiting for it to load. Mobile broadband is available in an instant, and for an increasing number of online tasks, is perfectly up to the job.

Karsten Weide, programme vice-president for media and entertainment at IDC, said PC usage is already being displaced by mobile devices, as handheld technology becomes more functional. He commented that a 'great PC exodus' is taking place, stemming from the reality that the PC was never truly a consumer product. "Many consumers used [PCs] because there was no better alternative," Mr Weide noted." But he claimed this is no longer the case, where many online functions are concerned. In terms of user-friendliness, PCs are struggling to compete with the latest generation of smartphones and tablets.

Maximising functionality 

Traditionally, the mobile working experience has been inferior to the fixed equivalent - with poor reliability, slow download speeds and basic web browsers limiting the range of tasks that could be performed away from the office. The lack of a viable keyboard on mobile devices has made type-intensive tasks difficult to manage using handheld technology - but this is slowly changing as smartphones and tablets become more user-friendly. For many business functions, the ease-of-use provided by a full size keyboard is still desired, but where typing is less of a consideration, mobile handsets have the advantage,

With more advanced mobile OS now available, the mobile working landscape continues to evolve, drawing in new users across a range of industry sectors. The launch of Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 is sure to have a positive impact on mobile working rates, given the new options this will provide for people working on the move. Crucially, for the first time, employees can now use the same Microsoft OS on their mobile device as on their PC or laptop - providing a seamless, multi-platform user experience which allows employees to achieve their potential. In terms of eliminating confusion and supporting productive work, the ability to sync up fixed and mobile IT is a most welcome development. Many employees are used to working with Microsoft OS, and will no doubt be eager to have the same system on their smartphones, tablets and PC/laptop.

Conclusion

Businesses are closely monitoring their mobile workers, eager to assess the impacts of giving them greater freedom and flexibility at work. Those who witness positive impacts are sure to further promote this model, eager to maximise efficiencies while engaging their staff and increasing output. If they are Windows users, businesses may be able to benefit even more by increasing their mobile operations. The adoption of smartphones and tablets with a Windows 8 OS will allow employees to move seamlessly between fixed and mobile devices, helping them to eliminate confusion and maximise performance on a daily basis.

Posted by Alex Boardman