Mobility is about enabling employees, not about squeezing more hours out of them

March 13, 2013 Pivotal Labs

Some companies justify Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) because it shifts costs to workers or turns some home time into work time. But it’s a mistake to use enterprise mobility as some kind of cost-saving or employee-exploiting wedge. In the article “Enterprise Mobility is about enabling value, not value engineering,” Benjamin Robbins argues that this is like stepping over a dollar to pick up a dime. The big value is going to come from enabling workers to do their jobs in a different and better way.

In theory, BYOD will lead to higher employee productivity – along the lines of two hours per day, or 460 hours over the course of a year. Of course, you’ve probably already observed that mobile devices can also be an excuse to conduct more personal activities at work, such as checking Facebook. Many companies view mobility as an expense and are pleased at the possibility of shifting some of the expense and responsibility for mobility back to the employee. These views all fail to grasp the bigger picture.

In essence, what the Web and just-in-time manufacturing have done for shopping, we can expect mobility to do for work. That is, enterprises enable their employees by affording them the ability to customize the right mix of apps and services on demand. It behooves enterprises to offer this capability as a competitive recruiting gesture, because, informed by their experiences with consumer devices, prospective employees will come to expect it, and their enhanced productivity will boost the bottom line.

Of course, this doesn’t mean rules go out the window. It does mean that the standards for enterprise mobility need to account for variation and the desire (and need) for employees to self-install and un-install apps. Standards must also allow some degree of customization to the working style of the employee – performing updates during sleep or family hours, or while in a meeting that should not be interrupted, for instance. This must also be accompanied by proper guidelines for a good work/life balance.

Simply put, mobility can enable the workforce as it never has been enabled before.

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