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Transforming The Mobile Workforce

Something unusual is happening in the workplace and the mobile workforce.

Overview

Technological innovation has traditionally been top-down, initiated by the CIO and corporate technology specialists. But we have recently started to witness “consumerization”—a growing trend for novel IT to emerge first in the consumer market and steadily infiltrate business organizations. It’s driving convergence between IT and consumer electronics, as our technology usage and habits at home infuse, inspire and inform our professional lives.

The use of the tablet computer for business appears to be one such grass-roots phenomenon: a swell of employee energy and enthusiasm is building behind the enterprise deployment of tablet computers and applications. Many users are proactively buying devices with their own money and integrating them into their day-to-day roles, connecting them to enterprise networks with or without permission. This willingness to bring non company-issued devices into the workplace is prompting many organizations to consider an enterprise tablet strategy earlier and in earnest for the mobile workforce.

Analysis

This paper reveals the findings of a joint internal tablet trial by Accenture and Vodafone Global Enterprise, which finds that it is in organizations’ best interests to capitalize on the momentum of the mobile workforce. However, this raises the need to address some key strategic and practical issues prior to full-scale deployment. As well as the compelling business benefits of tablet use, this paper explores the IT, user support, security and procurement considerations associated with incorporating tablet computers into an enterprise mobility strategy.

The joint research showed that participants primarily used their tablet computers for Internet browsing and e-mail, which increased their productivity and enabled collaboration. It emerged that tablet computers are particularly suited for reading and presenting documents, but have limitations in creating and editing documents.

Recommendations

The enterprise deployment of tablet computers plays to some of the behaviors that companies have been seeking to inculcate for some time: flexibility and collaboration.

Trial feedback strongly suggests that for enterprises, the tablet computer is a portable, cost-effective alternative to laptops that increases productivity by enabling people to work more flexibly and efficiently both in the office and elsewhere. Tech-savvy employees can gain advantage by using these devices to present to key clients and staff, projecting an image of a forward-thinking and technologically advanced company.

However, tablet computers aren’t a panacea: the trial concluded that they don’t offer a wholesale alternative to laptops and smartphones in the office environment. But the tablet computer functions admirably as a portable collaboration tool and instant presentation resource, and can serve as a laptop/smartphone replacement for field sales and service personnel or in the retail environment.