It's easy to assume that mobile business merely means working on the go, but there are many more hidden elements that you should consider. It’s easy to see the impact that mobile has had on the working world. No longer consigned to desks or offices, workers can access their emails, instant messaging and collaboration services any time they wish, allowing them to carry out work while away from the office.
The convenience is great, but users’ knowledge still lags behind what is needed to get the most out of technology. Remember that just because you’re using a smartphone daily doesn’t mean you’re a savvy user.
In fact, it can mean you only know how to do essential tasks such as writing emails. For Peter McCullagh, addressing that means speaking to people in language they understand. If they don’t understand the reasons for something, they’re not going to adapt to it.
“There’s no use in sending IT people out to train sales people with a CRM solution because they don’t speak [a layperson’s] language, or understand the concerns that they have” he says. “There’s no point in telling them the way you think it should be; it’s actually the way it is for them in their own business.
“That training dimension is really important . . . trainers are good at having those conversations and dealing with people at different levels. It’s no use sending an IT person out to train those people; they expect them to understand the concepts without mapping it into their own domain.
“Saying ‘I can’t answer that question because I don’t really know what it is you do’ isn’t a good enough answer.”
Any solution introduced needs to fit in with what is already there. There’s no point introducing an entirely new system if staff members can’t make head nor tail of it, so think about how much staff can take on at any one time.
If you’re introducing a new instant messaging service, take the time to go through the basics in a way that avoids jargon and ensure that it joins up with the existing system. If it doesn’t, it will just be dropped.
“It’s very different, so thinking realistically about who’s going to do it and their skills as well, what are they comfortable with. It’s taking all of those factors out there and saying it’s not a one-sizefits-all,” said McCullagh. “You can’t just say it looks great on paper, it has to be holistic and it has to be suitable for the people using it.”
Considering what your staff will use the new technology for is important, and a good example of that is offline use. Certain parts of the country are effectively blackspots, and many services like cloud or collaboration tools require you to have a connection. So it’s worth considering whether the services you use have an offline mode so your staff aren’t inconvenienced.
“It’s important to think holistically about who they are, where they’re going, what the requirements are going to be. If they’re going to places with no 4G or 3G, how are they going to work there? It’s important to think realistically.”
When reviewing your mobile strategy, McCullagh recommends looking at the big picture. Doing something for the sake of it – to fit in what you think businesses should be doing or because a competitor is using something similar – will only cause problems in the long run.
“Think holistically and make sure what you’re doing makes sense. The other thing [to consider is] the nature of the users, the nature of the task, the nature of the request. [Ask if] it is realistic that those people do that task in that location.
“We come across this all the time where people think something makes sense on paper . . . but then you talk to the users themselves and ask if they can see themselves doing this thing in that context and they say not really because of the nature of the engagement, the nature of the interaction.
“You could argue that in the last 20 years, IT has discovered you have to support the business rather than controlling the business. The business is making decisions and you have to support that . . . you have to respond with solutions.”
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