What Does Mobile Really Mean for Small Business?

By Jill Billhorn

It’s obvious—we live in mobile-centric times.  Look around and you will find someone shopping, banking or getting directions at the touch of a fingertip. Facebooking, tweeting and Instagraming are universally understood phrases.  Ask people today what they can’t function without and the answer is often their mobile device.  The mobile technology revolution is here, and we all can benefit.

This cultural shift toward mobile is not limited to personal activity—employees and employers alike recognize the benefits that mobile devices and real-time communication capabilities offer.  While mobile devices change the way small businesses operate in positive ways, managing the integration of these devices can be challenging.

Research shows that, just like large corporations, small business employees often function through their “mobile office.”  In a recent survey of mobile device users and IT professionals, 94 percent of small business mobile device users agreed that mobile technology makes them more efficient—and 67 percent said that their organizations would lose competitive ground without those devices. However, only half of the IT managers surveyed said that their company has an effective mobile device management (MDM) strategy.

Embracing Mobile Device Management

Employee mobility is critical for most small businesses.  The ability to immediately access networks, data and applications from anywhere and on any device improves employee efficiency and communication with customers.  Offering access through any device—not just those that are company-owned—is also important, as 89 percent of small business employees who use mobile devices for work said they use a personal device. An MDM system can ease the burden on small businesses by simplifying the deployment, management and integration of all mobile technologies.

A typical small business today supports numerous mobile devices on several different mobile operating platforms.  The devices themselves, however, are just a small piece of the overall mobile investment.  There are many choices involved in the mobility process, including carriers and activations, content management, expansion of bandwidth and core infrastructure, and ongoing support for users and applications.

Mobile IT Strategy

Small business owners must understand that it may not make sense to separate mobility from other IT investments. Instead, consider infrastructure and mobility issues collectively, including networking, storage, computing and security.  Think in terms of total mobility management to address five critical components of mobile adoption:

  • Plan:  Develop a mobile strategy that focuses on data and device policies, as well as security, collaboration requirements and network integration
  • Enable: Procure, provision and develop mobile devices, as well as support for Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) initiatives
  • Protect: Look for solutions with integrated security and real-time management for mobile devices and mobile apps
  • Support:  Provide helpful services for BYOD employees and MDM system administrators
  • Empower:  Determine ways you might enhance organizational efficiency and collaboration through customized mobile app selection

Total mobility management, including a solid MDM strategy, can help your small business fully optimize its mobile workforce. Mobility is at the center of business, whether you’re talking about infrastructure, cloud, collaboration or applications.A total mobility management approach can help your small business acquire, configure, manage, power and report on mobile devices as a part of the overall infrastructure.

Small businesses need to look beyond mobility as just smartphones or tablets their employees use—it’s time to adapt and start thinking in terms of total mobility.

Jill Billhorn is the vice president of small business at CDW.

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