With the increasing mobility small and medium businesses can no longer ignore it if they want to stay competitive
We are living in an era of mobile workspace. The coming of BYOD has made it easier for everyone to conduct business on the go. As per SMB Group report smaller businesses are spending more money on mobile solutions as a percentage of their overall technology budget and plan to continue to do so. Consumerization, says Ovum, has had driven the enterprise mobility market over the last few years.
Mobile devices and mobile business apps are playing an important part in business today and considering SMBs their spending on mobile solutions has increased as an overall part of their technology spending says SMB Group report. Its 2014 SMB Mobile Solutions Study among very small (1-19 employees) and small (20-99 employees) businesses further reveals that in the past one year the number of regularly used mobile business apps rose by 27%.
“Mobility is a game-changing technology. Mobile devices and apps are playing a growing role in businesses today; sweeping into the enterprises at a rapid rate- perhaps more than any other technology. This is especially true in the case of SMBs. A key driver behind the SMB’s full-fledged interest in business mobility is the “bring your own device,” or BYOD, concept,” informs Tarun Kaura, Director (Technology Sales), Symantec India.
Many SMBs do not have the resources to supply employees with the latest mobile technologies, yet they still want to partake of the benefits of an always-connected workforce.
A key driver behind the SMB’s full-fledged interest in business mobility is the “BYOD”, concept.”
Compared to the other sectors, the SME sector is vast, fragmented and has a huge potential to grow and are increasingly becoming aware about the benefits of adopting mobility for the flexibility it provides and for increasing one’s business productivity. One of the most common cases is for notifications and emails to ensure faster response time to customers and business contacts.
“The SME sector has already embraced mobility,” announces Mangesh Panditrao, Co-founder & CEO, Shoptimize, “We see our SME customers rely very heavily on mobile devices. Most people are now using computers only in extreme cases and want to get most of the work done through their mobile devices. We are seeing a lot of growth in apps specifically for this including communication apps, analytics apps, etc.”
As part of its 2015 TrendstoWatch: Enterprise Mobility report, Ovum predicted that SME demands for greater mobility will continue to increase this year as the industry pushes to become more mobile centric. Backing this stance, the SMB Group’s 2014 SMB Mobile Solutions Study showed that year-overyear, spending on mobile solutions as a percentage of total technology spending has risen 10% per year among very small businesses, and 7% among small businesses. The same small businesses also indicated that they planned to increase mobile spending in the coming year.
Since the concept of ‘Mobility’ itself is sometimes misunderstood, SMEs are not completely sure of the direction of its adoption.”
For those who have to be on field a lot it is no longer necessary to chug along the heavy laptop when we can make do with tablets and smartphones. Nilesh Patel, Chief Executive Officer, LeadSquared, says, “Businesses with field sales force are more open to adapt mobile solutions to track and manage distributed sales teams and are prime candidate for embracing enterprise mobility solutions.”
But what is “Mobility”? Does it entail just the use of smartphones, tablets, laptops, or desktop PC; “no,” says Vishal Parekh, MD, Kingston Technology India, “It includes better ability of sharing, management, security and analysis of data and corporate applications. It means that the businesses should be able to exert control over corporate information assets and convert this functionality into positive opportunities.”
Mobility should ideally lead to increased productivity, improved interactions with customers, faster and more efficient workflow processes he adds.
Panditrao says, “For the traveling workforce, it is no longer required to carry around a laptop everywhere as most work can be conducted using a mobile device. It has also reduced the amount of capital tied up in computers in certain cases. There is an increase in productivity as well as a better work life balance as employees need not be in the office to be productive.”
With the increasing awareness of the SMEs regarding the benefits of mobility they need to become more proactive while devising appropriate mobility strategies to enable mobility of the workforce.
Their concept of Mobility and its benefits should be well defined – like responding faster to their customers and prospects, making it easier and faster to order from suppliers, keeping track of inventory in real time, reducing cost of operations etc. Making users adapt and use mobility solution will be most critical aspect of deriving the benefit. Towards that one most make sure that applications are easy to use and intuitive.
“Primarily, since the concept of ‘Mobility’ itself is sometimes misunderstood, SMEs are not completely sure of the direction of its adoption. Also, there may be issues relating to the compatibility of the applications. There may even be an increase in the data inflow and outflow and since security also becomes a key issue while adopting this trend,” says Parekh. “It now depends on ‘How sooner do they adopt’.
“Some applications may need to work on 2G networks so that has to be thought through as well. In some cases the users will be contract employees who bring their own device, keeping data costs low will be extremely important for them while they use mobile applications,” answers Patel.
Some of the common misconceptions SMEs suffer from are that enterprise mobility is only for the big players or that it’s beyond their budget; they also have concerns regarding the time an enterprise mobility strategy takes to implement and manage, and how it can be secured.
With BYOD now well-established, another trend that is making itself heard is CYOD (choose your own device) and this industry says should be on SMEs radar because of the implications it will have on their business.
“As part of this, it is important to remember that BYOD and CYOD not only means mobile and tablets but also extends to traditional devices like laptops. Enterprise mobility solutions need to cater for these as well if they are to prove effective,” stresses Mike Foreman, Senior VP and GM, AVG Business, AVG Technologies.
• With the adoption of Mobility Data security is becoming another important consideration and this is where mobile device management solutions comes into play to gain control and transparency over mobile users access to enterprise data. According to SMB Group 43 percent of small businesses use a mobile device management solution and 33 percent use a solution to manage and secure mobile apps.
“With BYOD, employees use their personal mobile devices for work. Cybercriminals are aware of this tactical shift and therefore SMBs must protect their business information regardless of where it resides—whether on-the-go or in the office,” says Kaura.
Cost is a major hindering role in the wider adoption of mobility and data solution. “User adaption won’t be a challenge for simple applications, for complex use cases it will be important to have training for users. There are lots of mobile device management (MDM) solutions that give users access to devices and those will address data security concerns,” say Patel.
Today the market is flooded with various SaaS offerings that too at low cost which SMEs can avail to start with and can be scaled if the benefits are being realized by the businesses.
Reputable MDM tools also allow SMBs to make sure mobile devices, both personally-owned and company-owned, are wiped of company information if an employee leaves the company or a device is lost or stolen informs Kaura.
“SME management needs to move them self on to enterprise mobility to resolve any open issues they may have. The biggest misconception is that it is not productive,” says Panditrao.
“As more and more vertical specific apps gain traction and adoption, SMEs also need to look for solutions that cater to mobile application management, not just mobile device management,” says Foreman.
SMEs are warming up to the idea of mobility but they need to place policies in place regarding BYOD and also need to have an understanding of security issues before they start seeing the benefits of having MDM solutions.